The conceit of an artist performing a classic album in its entirety is one that has been employed a lot in the last few years.
Some shows have been perfunctory nostalgia fests and others splendid reminders of why the album format can be so enjoyable. (Even when suffering through that one song you always skip.)
Peter Gabriel and his band’s performance of his best-selling 1986 album “So,” before an audience of roughly 8,000 Monday at the TD Garden definitely fell into the latter category.
And in the case of that particular record it was short enough at just over 45 minutes, for Gabriel to play plenty of other material from his 35-year solo career in a two hour and 15 minute set that was busy — sometimes too busy — with dizzying video, light, and staging elements that have been a mainstay of his live shows.
Never one to follow the pack, Gabriel unceremoniously emerged while the house lights were still on and explained the night would unfold in “three bits.”
The first bit found the former Genesis front man and his undeniable band — the original touring crew behind the “So” album and two young backing vocalists — playing stripped-back versions of older tunes, including a propulsive “Shock the Monkey.”
Vocally, he may have lost some of his stamina and cannot hit every single high note, but Gabriel remains a moving vocal force and, as always, a theatrical and playful stage presence sharing a few synchronized steps with his bandmates and striking dramatic poses.
The second act began with a grinding, full-throttle take of “Digging in the Dirt” and peaked with a claustrophobic take on “No Self Control” featuring a set of overhead lights twisting and turning around the singer seemingly condemning and interrogating him.
Part three was “So” in its entirety from the grandiose opener “Red Rain”— of which drummer Manu Katche made the percussive most— to the slyly funky “Sledgehammer” to a mesmerizing “Mercy Street,” which Gabriel sang lying on his back center stage.
Jennie Abrahamson — who opened the show with her own material in partnership with her fellow back-up singer — ably stepped into Kate Bush’s shoes for a night for the duet of “Don’t Give Up.”
A jubilant “in Your Eyes” closed the main set, and Gabriel ended the show, as is his custom, with the human rights anthem “Biko.”
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