- David Bentley
Non-Nordic Sunday: Peter Gabriel – ‘Blood of Eden’ (video)
We have an occasional feature called Down Memory Lane and I suppose this is a Non-Nordic Sunday version of it.
I’ve seen this video many times before, but within the last few years this digitally remastered version has surfaced of a sublime live performance, one of the best ever in my humble opinion. It’s a video I often turn to when I’m in need of inspiration.
Peter Gabriel is probably coming towards the end of his career now and there is no chance of another full-scale 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 which played havoc with his spine. There should be a Genesis reunion show touring the country right now (it was, inevitably, postponed) but it is one featuring only Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and a Collins who only comes on stage occasionally and sits in a chair to sing. Percussion duties fall to his son, while Steve Hackett and Gabriel don’t feature at all.
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 the Californi-Mancunian 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 the seriously underrated Paula (‘Where have all the Cowboys gone?’) Cole, who was an essential part of the Secret World tour in 1993 from which this video is taken. She’s the only woman I’ve seen who could be sexy with tied-back hair, no make-up, in a plain grey dress and a pair of Doc Martens.
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 awe-inspiring 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’ (the greatest pop song ever written, it must be up there?) as his evil character morphed into Jesus and his black cloak was replaced by a shimmering 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 his ever-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 haunting doudouk, that weird flute-like instrument, in addition to Gabriel and Cole, but also because of the production, stage management 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 from 5:50, some of which was written specially for live performances (it isn’t on the album) is marvellous, with Gabriel’s falsetto wailing, 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.
If you like this, check out ‘Come talk to me’ from the same show for African rhythms par excellence from Manu Katché, extraordinary staging and the phenomenal chemistry between Gabriel and Cole. You won’t Adam and Eve it.
His website is here.