Earlier this year I missed seeing The Cure, I missed a band I always wanted to see. But there’ll always be a few you don’t get to. I’ve seen more than most. Also, I was on holiday in America. So I couldn’t really complain – and didn’t. Also that same night I scored one of the last late-in-the-game tickets to see Peter Gabriel and Sting live in Seattle. The final stop of their American tour.
It was stunning. An all-time Top 5 gig.
I don’t at all hate Sting. He delivers live – no matter what you think of him. I’ve seen him solo. And The Police reunion was particularly amazing. He’s possibly the best live singer I’ve ever seen. And I say that as someone who is not exactly a huge Sting fan. But you have to give the guy his due – he sounds great live. Carries with him a phenomenal band and a decent back-catalogue when cherry-picking.
But for me it was all about seeing Peter Gabriel. He never visits New Zealand. I’ve always hoped to see him. His music is deep – it’s been with me all my life. I was transfixed by much of it when a young kid. I still feel that way now. I had tears in my eyes hearing Solsbury Hill. Partly I guess because I just felt lucky to be seeing it. Mostly though because that song always puts a big thump in the chest whenever I hear it. I can’t ever grow sick of it.
Gabriel was the star on the night. But Sting was a pretty decent backing singer to have. He traded verses with Gabriel on many of Peter’s best early songs. He even sang a verse and chorus of an early Genesis song himself – later Gabriel reworked If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, making it almost unrecognisable. It was terrific.
Here were two friends sharing their songs, revelling in it too.
Also – bonus points, Eddie Vedder jumped up, a hometown hero of course, and sang Driven To Tears with Sting and then Red Rain with Gabriel. I’m no huge Pearl Jam fan but man he can sing. It was great hearing him sing these songs.
So in a year when I thought that seeing Prince was going to be the highlight – I’ve also managed to see Peter Gabriel. That same week I saw Prince I was already elated to be in Auckland to catch Sleater-Kinney. They too were stunning.
The best shows this year have been the ones I’ve travelled to see.
I can’t afford to do it often. But it’s clearly worth it. There’s something in the feeling of seeing someone in a new city.
It’s been a great year for gigs. But the highlights have all come from travelling. And one of the weirdest, funniest shows I’ve ever seen was Paul Williams in Las Vegas. On some level I guess I can add that to the list then.
We saw the Robby Krieger Band for free too – and it was amazing. A total fluke to be in the town when that was one.
What a score.
What gigs have you travelled for this year so far? What heroes have you seen? And do you agree that there’s something special in seeing someone in another city? Or is it simply that you’re seeking a return for your (extra) investment?