Billed as a warm-up gig for today's Nelson Mandela-organised AIDS benefit in South Africa, Gabriel used the concrete shed of the Brighton Centre as a place to try out a stripped back set that mixed old and new. Tracks from early albums sat alongside pieces from Ovo and UP. Simple lighting effects and an almost empty stage were surpassed by virtuoso guitar from long-time musical collaborator David Rhodes, while Tony Levin's bass led with a driving rhythm that never stopped.
Highlights included "Games Without Frontiers" sung on synchronised Segways, and a climax that included a powerful, triumphant "Solsbury Hill" that underlined Gabriel's commitment to his post-Genesis career, and that led to the entire line-up dancing through the audience. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tracks from So and Us dominated the set. An acapella "Mercy Street" brought tears to the eyes, while "Digging in the Dirt" was as honest as ever... The encores were well worth the long journey that resulted from catching the last train back to London: a passionate "Biko", sung anticipating its first live performance in South Africa, and the perennial crowd-pleaser "Sledgehammer".
One of the best gigs so far this year.
(Now, if only he'd sung "Here Comes The Flood"...)