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Hamish Hamilton
Peter Gabriel
Writing Credits:
Peter Gabriel

To mark the 25th of his So album, Peter Gabriel reunited his touring band from 1986/87 to play the multi-platinum selling album in its entirety.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 136 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/10/2024

• “The Visual Approach” Featurette
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Peter Gabriel: Back to Front [4K UHD] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 6, 2024)

2023 finally saw Peter Gabriel emerge from his cocoon and produce his first new album of pop/rock material in 21 years. Not that he stayed entirely on the sidelines over that span, though, as he occasionally toured as well and put out a mix of records in a few veins.

Actually, Gabriel did stay home for seven years after a 2016 co-headlining tour with Sting. Prior to that, Gabriel went on the road in to commemorate the 25th anniversary of 1986’s So.

That record remains by far Gabriel’s biggest selling. Gabriel reassembled the same band that toured behind So in 1987 and went on the road to play the album in its entirety.

This made the 2012-14 Back to Front Tour different from the 1986-87 So Tour, as he didn’t perform the whole record in its heyday. The nine So songs offer the centerpiece of Back to Front, but we get 12 other tunes as well.

Front launches with an acoustic set for the first four songs. Gabriel opens with the previously unreleased “Daddy Long Legs” – later to become “Playing for Time” on 2023’s i/o - before he plays “unplugged” versions of “Come Talk to Me” (from 1992’s Us), “Shock the Monkey” (1982’s Security) and “Family Snapshot” (1980’s Peter Gabriel).

After that, we get full band renditions of “Digging in the Dirt” (Us), “Secret World” (Us), “The Family and the Fishing Net” (Security), “No Self Control” (Peter Gabriel 1980), “Solsbury Hill” (1977’s Peter Gabriel) and “Show Yourself” (then new).

This leads us to the So portion of the show, as that album’s nine tracks finish the main set. For the encore, Gabriel plays “The Tower That Ate People” (2000’s OVO) and “Biko” (Peter Gabriel 1980).

The Back to Front tour opened in North American in September 2012 and continued to play worldwide through the end of 2014. The performance found on this disc comes from two nights at London’s O2 Arena in December 2013.

I saw the tour at the conclusion of its 16-date North American run in October 2012 and thought the show seemed… okay. At his best, Gabriel can provide amazing live performances, but something about the Back to Front concert just didn’t quite connect with me.

Maybe I just wasn’t wild about the fact it so strongly looked backwards. Throughout his career, Gabriel moved ahead and tried to innovate, so his decision to continually regurgitate aspects of his past disappointed me.

Indeed, by the time this concert hit Blu-ray in 2014, I thought Gabriel might never produce new material. 2023’s i/o - with accompanying tour – proved me wrong, thankfully.

But none of this seemed inevitable circa 2014, and in 2024, I can better approach Front and appreciate it on its own merits without the resentment of this trend toward nostalgia. Via Front, Gabriel doesn’t provide the dynamic live presence he did in his younger days, and even when compared to shows from 2003, he appears less active.

Getting old sucks, so I can’t blame Gabriel for that, and he displays a strong presence here despite his lower level of activity. The man knows how to hold a stage and this experience/prowess shows well.

Pete may look like a long-tenured philosophy professor at a liberal arts college, and at some point, he and Billy Joel became the same person physically. Nonetheless, he still maintains a good presence as a live performer.

And Gabriel sounds solid, too, though I can’t help but question how much of the vocals actually come from the O2 concert. When I reviewed Live in Athens from the original So tour in 1987, it seemed clear that Gabriel had re-recorded a lot of his singing, and that appears likely here as well.

Having seen him live not that long before this show’s recording, I can say that Gabriel’s voice remains good, and that 2012 concert experience allows me to hold out some hope that he didn’t go too nuts in terms of “fixing” the recordings. Nonetheless, I’d still bet that much of Gabriel’s singing got redone, and that might hold true for the rest of the musicians as well.

Whatever the case, the songs sound good and get nice performances here. Gabriel fans won’t find a lot of invigorating reinterpretations, though, as even the “unplugged” tracks don’t reinvent wheels.

Nonetheless, the tracks represent the material in a satisfying manner. It’s especially good to hear some of the So tracks live for the first time.

For the most part, Front goes with a simple and fairly effective visual presentation. Director Hamish Hamilton depicts events concisely and without too much quick cutting or gimmicks.

Some exceptions occur, as songs like “The Family and the Fishing Net” go for unusual tactics such as artificial TV interference. I could live without that, but since most of the show comes across in a straightforward manner, I won’t complain too much.

I could also live without the number of audience shots, though. Front eschews these for most of its first portion but they become more prominent as the concert progresses, especially during crowd pleasers like “Solsbury Hill” and “Sledgehammer”. They add nothing to the presentation and become an annoyance.

Despite that, I view Back to Front as an enjoyable trot through notable aspects of Peter Gabriel’s career. It doesn’t find the performer at the top of his game but it showed that he could still put on a fine concert in his 60s.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus D+

Peter Gabriel: Back to Front appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Shot 4K, the visuals held up well.

Sharpness seemed solid. Inevitably, the program opted for some intentionally less-than-tight elements, but the program depicted strong detail when “allowed” to do so.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws looked absent.

Most of the color variation came from lighting, as Gabriel and band tended toward dark garb. Heck, even the colored lights remained fairly restricted.

This wasn’t a monochromatic affair, but it lacked prominent colors outside of a few exceptions like “Red Rain”. Within those confines, though, the hues looked well developed and accurate.

Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots came across as clear and appropriately visible. Front delivered fine visuals.

As one expects from a concert presentation, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield focused on the front, where the elements showed strong stereo imaging. Pete’s vocals appeared set in the middle, while the instruments were accurately located and they demonstrated nice breadth and delineation.

I could distinguish the various instruments with ease, as they were placed in a natural and clear manner. They also blended together smoothly to create a forward soundstage that consistently created a real and involving setting.

As for the surrounds, they broadened to a reasonable degree. While they didn’t include much unique audio, they embellished the forward channels in an enveloping way.

For instance, during “Family Snapshot”, the back speakers offered an eerie reverb for part of Gabriel’s vocals. We also got the usual crowd noise from the surrounds. They weren’t dynamic partners, but they suited the style of the program.

Audio quality sounded solid across the board. Pete’s vocals demonstrated a vivid presence that put them strongly out front. He always appeared appropriately natural and accurate, and the clarity of his singing was impressive.

The rest of the track also showed fine warmth and a dynamic tone. Instruments remained crisp and vivid during the concert. Bass response seemed generally deep and rich, and highs were clean and bright. The various components appeared crisp and the entire presentation provided a vibrant and lively piece of work.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the original Blu-ray in 2014? Both came with identical audio.

A natural 4K production, this disc boasted superior definition compared to the Blu-ray. The absence of HDR grading disappointed, but blacks and colors nonetheless looked a bit more stable and accurate on the 4K.

I can’t claim the 4K blew away the already appealing BD. Nonetheless, it provided clear visual improvements and represented the source more accurately.

In terms of extras, we find a featurette called The Visual Process. In this six-minute, 12-second piece, we hear from Peter Gabriel and concert/lighting designer Rob Sinclair.

They give us an overview about the show’s creation and presentation. Though short, the program includes some useful insights.

Finally, we get a 16-page booklet. This provides an essay from Mark Beaumont as well as photos and credits. It completes the set in a satisfying manner.

Many decades into his career, Peter Gabriel remains a strong concert performer, and we see his skill set via Back to Front Live in London. The show comes with some flaws and doesn’t match Gabriel’s best work, but it still delivers an enjoyable piece. The 4K UHD comes with strong picture and audio but lacks notable bonus materials. I don’t regard that as a big drawback, for Front boasts a well-produced two-hour-plus concert that will please fans.

To rate this film visit the original review of BACK TO FRONT

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