Live in Verona – Scratch My Back and Taking The Pulse

Released 26th September, 2010

In February 2010 Peter Gabriel released the album ‘Scratch My Back’, a selection orchestral interpretations of some of his favourite songs by other writers. Originally conceived as a reciprocal arrangement – a song swap between Peter and the artists he chose to cover – it was Peter’s half that arrived first. The second part, featuring artists covering Peter’s songs, ‘And I’ll Scratch Yours‘, followed in 2013.

In spring 2010 Peter began the ‘New Blood’ tour, playing selected shows in Europe and North America in support of the album release.

The tour continued in the autumn of the same year and included a show at the First Century Roman amphitheatre in Verona, Italy: Anfiteatro Arena Di Verona.

For the performance Peter was joined by orchestrator and musical director John Metcalfe, conductor Ben Foster, leader Louisa Fuller and pianist Tom Cawley, along with vocalists Melanie Gabriel and Ana Brun and the New Blood Orchestra.

The show, on 26 September 2010, was captured by Anna Gabriel and the material she shot forms the basis of two films: ‘Scratch My Back’ and ‘Taking The Pulse – Live in Verona’.

I asked my daughter Anna to film the show that we were planning to play with an orchestra at the Arena di Verona, which is an extraordinary place in which to be able to perform. Although I was recovering from a cold and not quite hitting the notes as I wanted, Anna did a wonderful job with her collaborator Andrew Gaston, and a great team, in capturing a very special night.

‘Scratch My Back’ focusses on the songs from the album, that made up the first half of the live show, intercut with interview segments with Peter and some of the original songwriters talking about the interpretations for the record. It’s a fascinating insight into Peter’s motivations behind the song choices and the reactions to those songs by artists like David Byrne, Randy Newman, Guy Garvey, Stephin Merrit and Justin Vernon.

‘Taking The Pulse’, by contrast, captures the second half of the live show, that featured orchestral arrangements of Peter’s own songs. At the time these were wholly new to the audience, but went on to form the basis of the subsequent ‘New Blood’ album.

When I spoke to my dad about shooting one of his shows I jumped at the chance of shooting at the Roman amphitheatre in Verona, Italy. Italians have always been very enthusatic audience and give a lot back to the performer and to the camera. I made this film with my friend Andrew Gaston who was truly my collaborator throughout the process. It is always fun for me to shoot my father as I know the material and his performances so well I feel that I can capture a side to him that feels more personal. I also wanted to shoot the orchestra in an exciting way and along with Andrew’s editing I think we really captured the energy of the entire performance. I look forward to sharing this film. – Anna Gabriel.

Both of the films are available to watch now on the Real World Vimeo channel by clicking through the links above.

“The films Anna made have not been seen by a wide enough audience,” adds Peter. “Now many of us are at home and isolated, so we  wanted to make them available to anyone interested with the sole request that you consider contributing to one of these organisations raising money to fight the virus.”

Civil Protection Department

Italian Red Cross

If you prefer to donate money more locally to where you live, please do that instead.

Scratch My Back & Taking the Pulse
Director: Anna Gabriel
Editor & assistant director: Andrew Gaston
Producer: Dawn Christy – Nylon Films
Sound mixing: Ben Findlay

All photos from the night by York Tillyer.