Peter Gabriel never came to Las Vegas to showcase his multiplatinum 1986 album, So. In fact, he’s never performed here, often keeping his tours relatively short and limiting them to large cities. And who could blame him: Despite the accessibility and sweep of some of his radio singles, Gabriel has been first and foremost an art rocker who revels in subtleties and often leaves spaces in his music that serve as entrances for exotic instruments. What might fill seats at the Hollywood Bowl could clear them at the Colosseum at Caesars.
However, in the absence of new songs, Gabriel has taken to rerecording, remastering and touring older material. And on the occasion of So’s 25th anniversary and grand repackaging, the former Genesis frontman is performing his most popular album with most of the musicians from the 1986 trek. If there was ever a tour Gabriel could bring to Vegas, it’s this one, and he will on Oct. 5.
The setlist will include a good handful of catalog highlights — including first-ever solo single “Solsbury Hill,” the 1977 hallelujah that essentially threw the Genesis car keys to drummer Phil Collins, and underrated alt-funk chestnut “Digging in the Dirt,” one of the best-ever songs about psychotherapy — before Gabriel and company will play So, from “Red Rain” to “In Your Eyes.” The big moment ought to be his hair-raising protest song in honor of anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko. It’s a typical Gabriel closer, and it’s not to be missed. Nor is his Las Vegas debut.
ALSO: If you’ve ever tried to envision a modern update of Gabriel’s fusion of world music, ambient rock and folky alt-pop, it might sound something like Alt-J’s recently imported An Awesome Wave, one of a handful of records recently nominated for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize. It’s no So, but the two genre-ricocheting works have some overlap. It’s refreshingly defiant of trends and will resonate as it’s delivered by the gentle breezes of the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool.
Peter Gabriel Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m.; Planet Hollywood Theatre, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 785-5555, $63-$138. Alt-J, Grouplove Thursday, Oct. 4, 9 p.m.; Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 698-7000, $20. MIKE PREVATT
Beauty Bar: Aging gracefully
Ever walk into Beauty Bar and notice something different? During Neon Reverb, there were so many changes that it begged the question: Has owner Paul Devitt finally made the type of investment loyal patrons and former employees of the pioneering Fremont East bar have long (if privately) clamored for?
From the list of improvements and additions given to us by booking manager Ruben Rodriguez, that’s a yes. There’s the new stage, purchased after the theft (!) of the last one and upgraded with a handy ramp. Bands performing on that stage can now be properly illuminated, thanks to new lighting trusses. A new sound system was recently installed indoors, where the walls have been repainted with different color schemes and glitter. A mirror ball, a fresh outdoor mural and renovated bathrooms are all in the venue’s near future. (This, to say nothing of the vastly improved patio PA system, a longtime Achilles’ heel for the venue.)
You can experience this revitalized Beauty Bar at its seventh anniversary party on Oct. 6, which will feature Brooklyn electro act Class Actress and local rock act Close to Modern, along with DJs Rex Dart, John Doe, Aurajin and Xander Xero. Per anniversary tradition, admission is free, with grub and beer on the house 9-11 p.m. MIKE PREVATT