CSFTD#9: Peter Gabriel – Blood of Eden

We’ll get around to Genesis eventually but I wanted to feature this one before I forget. Peter Gabriel is probably coming towards the end of his singing career now. There is no chance of another Genesis reunion, and certainly not of the original 1970s line-up. Phil Collins has been invalided out of active service anyway, thanks to that ridiculous horizontal drumming position he used for decades.

Gabriel has worked with many female accomplices during his 40 years as a solo artist, including Kate Bush of course, also Sinéad O’Connor, and our very own CaliforniMancunian Jesca Hoop, who appeared with him as a supporting vocalist on a tour of Brazil a few years ago (and very good she was, too). But the standout singer for me has always been Paula (‘Where have all the Cowboys gone?’) Cole, who was an essential part of the Secret World tour in 1993.

And the best song performed during that tour in my opinion was Blood of Eden, from the 1992 album Us, on which O’Connor was backing vocalist. It was also released as a single and then turned up on the Secret World live album. This video is of an absolutely sublime live rendition in Modena, Italy, in November 1993 on that Secret World tour.

Gabriel is the acknowledged master of putting on a theatrical performance. I was privileged to see him with Genesis, taking off into the air like Peter Pan (and on the same wires) at the Drury Lane Theatre in London at the end of ‘Supper’s Ready’ as his evil character morphed into, well, Jesus I suppose and his black cloak was replaced by a silver suit in the blinding flash of multiple magnesium flares. I don’t think there’s been anything quite like it since.

By the 1990s though and nine albums on from quitting Genesis what you see here was more typical of the evolving theatricality. I like this version not only for the fantastic musicianship from the likes of David Rhodes (guitar) Tony Levin (bass), Jean-Claude Naimro (keyboards), Shankar (violin, backing vocals), Manu Katché (drums) and the Armenian Levon Manassian on the doudouk, that weird flute-like instrument, in addition to Gabriel and Cole,  but also because of the production and arrangement. The song is acted as much as sung, on a stunning stage set full of symbolism (such as the Tree of Life) as Adam Gabriel and Eve Cole wander around their private Garden of Eden debating their own failed relationship.

The last minute and a quarter in particular, some of which was written for live performances (it isn’t on the album) is marvellous, the way Cole looks at the forlorn Gabriel over her shoulder as he sings “we have done everything we can” before going her own way and above all the imagery of his final despairing attempt at physical contact as her back is turned.

©D J Bentley 2015