Peter Gabriel/Youssou N'Dour

Live Shots

Peter Gabriel (top, photo by Jay West); Youssou N'Dour (photo by John Anderson)
Peter Gabriel (top, photo by Jay West); Youssou N'Dour (photo by John Anderson)

Peter Gabriel

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Houston, June 16

Youssou N'Dour

ACL Live at the Moody Theater, June 18

Peter Gabriel's mainstream coronation, 1986's many-times-platinum So, guested Senegalese griot Youssou N'Dour on only one track ("Mercy Street"), but the two singers' high-wire vocal act on "In Your Eyes" during the ensuing tour remains a global kiss-the-sky crossover. Gabriel performed both vintage So-journs in Houston two nights prior to N'Dour's lithe African troupe entrancing Austin's Moody Theater on Saturday, employing Norwegian folkie Ane Brun as his foil on "In Your Eyes" along with his daughter Melanie. If Billboard's modern rock chart-topper missed N'Dour, the Genesis cofounder's full-blown classicism now sweeps it up in evolutionary progression. Gabriel's 46-piece New Blood Orchestra serves a sole instrument, the 61-year-old Englishman's delicately splayed tenor, laying bare mystic lyrics while rendering their origin arrangements ghosts in the orchestral machinations. Irrigated via a stage thermos and suckling on a plastic honey bear, Gabriel began by stripping back David Bowie's "Heroes" to a nearly unrecognizable opener, then delved ever starker on succeeding covers of Regina Spektor ("Après Moi"), Paul Simon ("The Boy in the Bubble"), and Arcade Fire ("My Body Is a Cage"), all debuted on 2010's interpretive Scratch My Back. "Biko" closed the first set almost unplugged save for the swell of a dozen violins, prepping a second half that completed a career catalog cull touching on all his nonsoundtrack studio albums except for his second eponymous disc. Security mirage "San Jacinto" and tribalist littermate "The Rhythm of the Heat" joined a deadly, creeping "Intruder," but "Red Rain," catcalled for all night, began the end-run of hits, peaking with Gabriel literally skipping across the stage during modern faith healer "Solsbury Hill." Two male dancers, one favoring Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" moves and the other leaping bandmates in a single bound, channeled Youssou N'Dour's equally stately and sometimes giddy élan, also delivered in hourlong halves divided by an intermission. African superstardom translated mostly into its motherland's local émigrés Downtown at the W Hotel, but N'Dour's 11-member group laid in a groove epidural, hypnotizing time itself between lights-out and no encore. "7 Seconds," his 1994 duet with Neneh Cherry, transcended the overall language barrier early, bridged by the first set's concentration on Dakar-Kingston, N'Dour's hopscotch from West African percussive praise singing to Jamaican undulation. Cresting to a fever pitch near the evening's conclusion on the rocking expansion of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," the riot goin' on gushed four percussionists, crucible bass lines, and skittering guitars. "AIDS, poverty, war – the Africa we know," proclaimed N'Dour, 51, offering his antidote. Africa: cradle of music.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Peter Gabriel
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
The sometime Austinite tours the U.S. for the first time since 1969

Thomas Fawcett, Feb. 17, 2017

Did Shearwater Cut the Best Protest Album of 2016?
Did Shearwater Cut the Best Protest Album of 2016?
Jonathan Meiburg calls out new America's scary monsters

Abby Johnston, Dec. 9, 2016

More Youssou N'Dour
Phases & Stages
Youssou N'dour
Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take) (Record Review)

Thomas Fawcett, Dec. 28, 2007

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Matthew Logan Vasquez
Light'n Up (Record Review)

Elise Barbin, June 14, 2019

The Infinites
The Infinites
The Infinites (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, May 10, 2019

More by Raoul Hernandez
Stream the Synth-Pocalypse on Pinkish Black’s <i>Concept Unification</i>
Stream the Synth-Pocalypse on Pinkish Black’s Concept Unification
Texan twosome shares new LP and email Q&A

June 20, 2019

Church of Misery's Doom-Boogie Bounces Back From a Mutiny
Church of Misery's Doom-Boogie Bounces Back From a Mutiny
The serial killer-obsessed fourpiece comes to Austin Terror Fest

June 7, 2019


Peter Gabriel, Youssou N'Dour

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle