Review: Peter Gabriel – Back To Front

The marvelous thing about this live recording of Peter Gabriel’s So album — and other tracks is that it lives up to the billing.  It is a meticulously crafted re-working of arguably his most significant solo work, and perhaps his best work overall. When “Sledgehammer” hit the airwaves in 1986 it was an extraordinary breath of fresh air, Wikipedia citing that the single was the most played video in the history of MTV. It and Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” were both on an amazing path that the industry should have followed.   Dance rock that wasn’t disco, pure pop that had a drive, passion, and insight. What’s missing in music thirty years later?

Listen to James Vincent Mc Morrow cover “Higher Love,” or Whitney Houston’s Japanese b-side rendition, they add to the Winwood legend.  Gabriel, on the other hand, owns his hit, and this DVD puts an exclamation point on that. There’s a superb acoustic rendition of “Sledgehammer” by the undiscovered Morgan James that expresses the sentiments well, very well, but it is Gabriel who sheds the skin prior to the “new stuff.”

Live the song moves from the dance hall to the singer/songwriter arena, though the music is exact. On this tour, Gabriel is having a love-fest reading it (in full singing voice,) to those who appreciate.

When separating the film from the performance what we now are into is the realm of art, and this video is an artistic masterpiece.  Amazing audio and inspiring camera work, so essential in documenting important material for the ages.

Ten songs open the DVD before we get into the tracks of “So,) which concludes, of course, with Mrs Lou Reed Laurie Anderson’s co-write with Gabriel, “This is the Picture (Excellent Birds.)    The album is played in order except that “In Your Eyes” is switched around to conclude the 1986 disc’s 9 songs (whereas it opened up side 2 sandwiched between “That Voice Again” which ends side 1 and track 2 on side 2, “Mercy Street.”

A few years back Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane had contracts signed for a tour where he would play the album Surrealistic Pillow in its entirety.  Fans were excited, but Marty pulled the plug, as he has done so many times before.  It’s too bad, because those who appreciate immortal music were deprived of something that would have given an artist that was overshadowed by both of his major groups, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, a platform to show how vitally important he was to the success of those two legendary “enterprises” (as in Starship Enterprise…)

Gabriel, an artist who puts his audience first, delivers the goods.   Not standing in the shadows of Genesis, but showing great respect for his catalog, and those who have enjoyed his career over the decades.  Bravo…and, encore!

Four minutes of Peter Gabriel from the disc here:

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.