Peter Gabriel's Surprise Gig

Gabriel and Youssou N' Dour lend a hand to Joseph Arthur. Photo of the artists performing Tuesday night taken by Cheri Cheng.

Peter Gabriel, who has kept an unusually low-profile as of late, snuck out

Tuesday night (March 18) for a rare live appearance to lend a hand to an artist

on his Real World label, 25 year-old Akron, Ohio singer-songwriter Joseph

Arthur.

The unannounced gig at the new Caroline Records (Caroline

distributes Real World) loft in New York's Fashion district was an exclusive

peek at some of the songs on Arthur's just-released debut album, Big City

Secrets, the first rock album on Gabriel's more world music-oriented

imprint and luckily, ATN had a spy in the crowd of 100 or so attendees.

Our

mole tells us that Arthur took the corner-of-the-room stage alone following a

set by another Real World artist, Tibetan song bird Yungchen Lhamo, and

proceeded to play the non-album song, "May God's Love Be With You" accompanied

only on acoustic guitar and an intriguing set of foot pedals on which he looped

his guitar parts over and over until they came out sounding like percussion

tracks.

Then, surprising most of those in attendance, the former Genesis

leader hopped on stage for the second tune, "Your History is Your Gravity," and

stayed until the end of the set. As he does on the album track "Mercedes,"

which also features vocals from Brian Eno, Gabriel sang backing vocals on the

four remaining tunes in Arthur's 40 minute set. The pair were also joined by

Senegalese singer and Gabriel collaborator Youssou N' Dour on the title track,

one of only two songs Arthur played that appear on his debut, the other being

"Put My Daddy On Prozac."

A source at Caroline told ATN that Gabriel

stumbled upon the singer when a friend sent him a tape of Arthur's angular

songs, which resulted in Gabriel's flying him to England for a meeting and,

eventually, a recording deal and a few spots on one of Gabriel's WOMAD tours.

According to the source, Gabriel has gotten very involved with Arthur's career

and taken the singer under his wing because, "he feels very strongly that he's

a person that should be heard."