British singer, songwriter and human-rights campaigner Peter Gabriel surprised his fans in May, 2010 by revealing that he would be performing a special one-off concert in Melbourne, Australia on November 1, 2010. This astounded Gabriel fans residing Down Under. The last time Gabriel performed in Australia was in 1993 during his Secret World tour.
What surprised even long-time fans (back to when Gabriel fronted Genesis before leaving in 1975) was that Gabriel announced that he liked to bet on horse racing. He even stated in am Australian radio interview that he preferred betting online because he got better odds. The concert at Melbourne was officially to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup, that country’s most prestigious horse race.
A Horse Race???
As more details about the Melbourne Cup Eve concert was released by promotion company Andrew McManus Presents, fans in Australia became more puzzled. Gabriel was to headline a concert including Chicago, America and another Peter, Peter Frampton. Then there were to be seven more opening acts fans would have to sit through before Gabriel would ever set foot on the stage. Tickets were priced in the hundreds of Australian dollars.
But the real irksome part was the concert was to celebrate a horse race. In between acts, footage of old races and specially made videos about the race would be shown. Not all Gabriel fans Down Under are keen on horse racing. Discussions on the fan forums of Gabriel’s official site, petergabriel.com, mentioned that many fans were upset that their hero was supporting horse racing.
Does Not Compute
Horse racing is a cruel sport where Thoroughbreds have been inbred to the point where they are susceptible to many genetic ailments. They often are given performance enhancing drugs. Many are made to begin racing by age two, even though their skeletons do not mature until hey are five. After their careers are over, the horses are sent to slaughter or euthanized on the spot because their owners cannot afford to keep any animals not in training. Even 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand was sent to a slaughterhouse in Japan.
As a champion of human rights to the point of starting up two charities, Witness and The Elders, Gabriel certainly compromised his own credibility by supporting highly controversial animal entertainment. This is also odd for a man who helped create music with bonobo chimpanzees and is active in their conservation. Perhaps primates deserve rights but equines – well, screw them!
But It Was Not To Be
However, Gabriel fans opposed to horse racing were relieved on Sunday, August 22, to see reports in Australian music and entertainment blogs that Gabriel suddenly cancelled and was being replaced by Beach Boys’ brainchild Brian Wilson. Later that same day, Andrew McManus Presents confirmed the rumors.
Fans that had already bought tickets were gutted. Those that only bought tickets were assured of a full refund. Unfortunately, those that had booked flights, hotel reservations and got the weekend off from work were especially gutted. They have no way of getting all of their money back (unless they are very lucky.)
Gabriel’s reason for quitting? “Scheduling conflicts.” Gabriel is known for his professionalism and his reliability – until now. In 1994, he was asked to do a concert in 1998 for Amnesty International. Gabriel showed up. Usually the hardest part is getting Gabriel to commit. But once he commits, he’s there.
Gabriel’s own website has not mentioned that he has cancelled the Melbourne Cup gig even eight days later, which is about 8 years in Internet-time. The only way fans had of knowing about the cancellation was to check the fan forums or Australian music-centered websites.
This Excuse Should Be Good
Since 2002, Gabriel has put up once monthly vlogs on his website which come out during the full moon. These video messages vary in length and sometimes Gabriel does not make an appearance due to touring, vacationing at his hotel in Sardinia or special events such as the birth of his youngest son Luc in 2008.
Gabriel made his July and August vlogs on the same day and they were posted at the appropriate full moons. Of course, there was no mention of the Melbourne cancellation. To be completely silent is completely out of character.
World music blogs mentioned that Gabriel was helping out on a song with Salman Ahmad in order to help out Pakistani flood victims. Perhaps this was the “scheduling conflict.” If it was, it certainly was worth mentioning to the Gabriel fans around the world now scratching their heads. Gabriel is due on September 12 to start a three and a half week European tour. Those who have tickets to these shows are getting understandably nervous.
Gabriel describes himself as a “perfectionist.” He had a ten year gap between albums and a 25 year gap between children. Perhaps Gabriel is working on an apology, excuse or bald-faced lie about the Melbourne fiasco with as much care. Perhaps he’ll incorporate stop-motion animation and wear makeup for this one. Although Gabriel is rich enough and has a large enough fan base to never mention Melbourne again, it would be only human to at least apologize.
And it had better be good.