Peter Gabriel- i/o The Tour, AO Arena Manchester- A Poignant Reminder Of The Power Of Authentic And Timeless Music 23/6/23.






In an era of transient trends and synthetic pop, Peter Gabriel is a poignant reminder of the power of authentic and timeless music.

When it comes to delivering a memorable and inventive live experience, few artists can match the sheer skill and artistry of Peter Gabriel. On a hot and humid evening in Manchester, the legendary musician is about to transport the AO Arena audience on a hypnotising voyage through time, emotion, and stunning visuals. All played out to the soundtrack of both classic and contemporary Gabriel songs. 

The atmosphere in the arena is emotional in the dim lights as the legendary musician and former frontman of Genesis emerges from the shadows to thunderous applause. A hush falls as he begins his introduction to tonight’s performance. “You might be surprised to learn that you’re looking at an avatar” he begins, “but unlike ABBA my avatar is 20 pounds heavier, 20 years older and completely bald” he continues, taking his cap off to reinforce the point to huge applause. 

A makeshift campfire is setup in the blue lights and after dramatically lighting it via a dropped down lamp, Peter sits around it to begin “Washing of the Water”. His distinctive voice resonates emotionally and powerfully captivating every silent soul in the crowd. “Growing Up” follows and the band are introduced as they too sit before the stage is transformed by an army of orange boiler-suited crew into a traditional stage setup and stunning projections for the rest of the set.

With a career spanning over four decades, whether it’s sitting behind a keyboard, storytelling between songs or marauding the stage, Gabriel is a master as a performer, proving why he remains an iconic and intriguing figure in today’s music industry. His stage presence is both commanding and vulnerable. With very little movement he seems to command the attention of the audience, his magnetism seemingly casting a spell on everyone present.



Whether it’s the passionate “Don’t Give Up”, the hauntingly beautiful “Solsbury Hill” or the explosive energy of “Sledgehammer” Gabriel’s emotional connection with the lyrics is profound as his distinctive voice echoes throughout this great Manchester venue. It’s a carefully crafted set, a blend of greatest hits and lesser-known gems with “Panopticom”, “Four Kinds of Horses” and “Solsbury Hill” particularly stunning for me. The latter beginning with a beat clapping audience and supported by a plethora of virtuoso musicians who bring an exactness and dynamic energy to the songs. The combination of stunning animated sequences, abstract art, elaborate lighting and a backdrop that seamlessly integrates live footage is nothing short of spectacular. It’s an immersive experience that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears complementing the music flawlessly.

The night builds to its climax and best song of the evening for me with an epic performance of the second encore “Biko”, the poignant tribute to Steve Biko. It’s introduced as “a bit of an anthem. It’s for all those people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, whatever the costs to themselves.”  The hairs on the back of my neck stand up as the chant of Biko follows the tribal drum opening. It’s emotional and performed sparsely under a hot orange sun and image of the anti-apartheid activist as the band and audience punch the air and sing. This is the power of music, right here. A collective anthem of hope and solidarity, the songs powerful message resonating deeply, leaving an indelible impression long after its final notes fade away. A song as relevant today as it was when it was written. It’s a sombre, but a hopeful and poignant end to the night’s extraordinary music and breath-taking visuals.

In an era of transient trends and synthetic pop, Peter Gabriel is a poignant reminder of the power of authentic and timeless music. It’s been a night of celebrating the past and the present of a legendary artist and a night I won’t forget in a hurry.




1/ Washing of the Water

2/ Growing Up

3/ Panopticom

4/ Four Kinds of Horses

5/ i/o

6/ Digging in the Dirt

7/ Playing for Time

8/ Olive Tree

9/ This Is Home

10/ Sledgehammer

11/ Darkness

12/ Love Can Heal

13/ Road to Joy

14/ Don’t Give Up

15/ The Court

16/ Red Rain

17/ And Still

18/ Big Time

19/ Live and Let Live

20/ Solsbury Hill

Encore 1:

21/ In Your Eyes

Encore 2:

22/ Biko