Peter Gabriel – Back to Front
Oct. 13, 8 p.m. $95 & $75., Mohegan Sun, Uncasville. mohegansun.com, ticketmaster.com
The pop world has changed immeasurably since Peter Gabriel's landmark So was released on May 19, 1986. Gabriel's multi-platinum album shared the spotlight with the likes of Madonna's True Blue, the Top Gun soundtrack and Raising Hell by young upstarts Run-D.M.C. So even duked it out on the charts with Invisible Touch by Gabriel's old Genesis bandmates.
Twenty-six years later, songs from So are still played often across the media spectrum — while most of those other bestsellers have faded into the memories of aging boomers. Tunes like "In Your Eyes," "Red Rain" and "Don't Give Up" continue to resonate with contemporary audiences. Even the dance beats of "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" have maintained a visceral vitality.
Gabriel, now 62, has never been one to coast on past achievement, having subsequently created the Real World record label to champion indigenous musics from around the globe. Add to that a series of fascinating instrumental movie soundtracks, an ongoing commitment to human-rights work and the occasional foray back into the pop realm, and you've got one very creative human being.
Now, for the first time in his career, the restless creator is embarking on a retrospective tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of So's release. Never mind that it's actually been 26 years. A special anniversary edition of So is being issued on October 23, as well as two different box sets, which will include extra tracks and live material of the first So tour.
The Back to Front tour arrives in Connecticut this Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Bassist Tony Levin, a Boston native now living in upstate New York, has been a part of Gabriel's inner musical circle since he left Genesis. Levin is one of the most highly regarded session players around, having worked with everyone from John Lennon to Pink Floyd over the course of four decades. The Advocate caught up with Levin on a rare day off during the current tour.
"It was just luck that I was asked to play on Peter's first solo album in 1976," said Levin. "The producer, Bob Ezrin, had used me on albums with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, and thought I'd be right for Peter. I didn't even know Genesis' music at that time. It worked out great, of course. In fact, on that same recording session, I met Robert Fripp, who later had me play on his solo album, and then join King Crimson.
"It's great to revisit all the music of So. We'd done various pieces from that album on various tours but had never played the whole album in order."
On this tour Levin is playing a number of basses, including the NS Electric Upright, synth bass, and Chapman Stick on one song.
After getting home from this tour, Levin goes to Europe for a six-week tour with Stick Men, the trio that he works with a lot. "I play the Chapman Stick, and with Markus Reuter playing a touch guitar that's similar to the Stick, we cover a lot of ground musically. The drummer, Pat Mastelotto, is also in King Crimson with me, so the band has a Crimson element to it, for sure." They'll be promoting their new CD, Deep, which comes out Oct 25th.
"As for King Crimson, we have no plans to tour or record at the moment — that lies with Robert Fripp, our leader, and he's currently involved with other things. I do hope that the future has some Crimson recording and touring. Which reminds me, my new eBook, titled Crimson Chronicles came out just a few weeks ago. It's an e version of the book I released years ago, with my photos of the band in the '80s. The eBook has a lot of interactive features, and is quite a bit augmented from the original paper book."