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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2003/06/28
by Mike Gruenberg

Peter Gabriel

Happiness in sitting in the seventh row watching a Peter Gabriel concert! Actually, a person could be very happy sitting in any seat at a Peter Gabriel concert, but sitting up front really makes it special. On June 24th, I had the opportunity to see Peter Gabriel and his band in concert at the Jones Beach Theater on Long Island. This venue is an open-air theater with cool ocean breezes combining with the best musicians on earth. It doesn’t get much than that.
To me, a person can be judged not so much by their accomplishments, but more in the way they conduct themselves. Most parents tell their children to pursue each impending task with hard work, diligence and a positive attitude. By applying oneself in this manner, success albeit not assured is certainly a greater possibility than failure.
In watching Gabriel, his band and daughter perform on Tuesday night, I was struck by the fact that this guy really enjoys what he is doing. He truly communicated with his audience both on musical and spiritual levels. Similarly, his audience was able to communicate with him. There was a feeling that we are all here together to see an old friend and have an evening of old and new songs combined with some really cool theatrics. His band was flawless and his song selections for the evening were impeccable. At times, he wandered into the audience and at times he interacted with elaborate props on stage. He proudly introduced his daughter as a singer in the band. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to perform with your daughter.
Peter Gabriel, in fact is an old friend. As one of the founding members of Genesis in 1966, the group gave us many hits, memorable albums and great concerts. When the band was first formed in England, Gabriel was the lead singer and front man with a flair for theatrics. As the band evolved into a more mainstream pop group, Gabriel left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. By the mid 1980’s, with Phil Collins as the lead singer, Genesis had became one of the most popular bands throughout the world.
Gabriel released his first solo album in 1977 simply entitled "Peter Gabriel." His next two albums released in 1978 and 1980 were also titled "Peter Gabriel." He often explained that the titles of albums were really overshadowed by the music and the issues that were described in the lyrics. He felt that each album was like a new issue of a magazine. Gabriel has always been a political activist using his music to call attention to social issues such as the unity of the races. Most memorable of his social issue tunes are "Biko" which pays homage to the South African activist who was assassinated and "Games Without Frontiers" which talks about intercultural respect among the races. Both tunes were performed at the concert.
In 1989, Peter Gabriel founded a new record label, Real World Records which was designed to find music from all over the world. Along with Real World Records, Gabriel established Real World Studios where he records his music and also records diverse music from artists throughout the world. In that same year, he donated all royalties from his song, "Red Rain" to the Greenpeace album, "Rainbow Warriors" so as to back up his intellectual commitment to ecology with a financial commitment as well.
For me, a child of the 60’s I feel that even today, Peter Gabriel represents all that we stood for. His music, his politics and his devotion to family are the very ideals that should be important to us all. The great industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once said, "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." Watching what Peter Gabriel did on Tuesday night was a sheer joy for me and the assembled multitude of his fans that enjoyed the performance and probably would have remained there well into the night if Peter had the strength to perform for another two and a half hours.

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