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Peter Gabriel - Growing Up Live CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

4.51 | 183 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I do not particularly think of DVDs or videos as valid candidates for a five star rating. Live videos (and audio albums, for that matter) are simply regurgitations of the material originally invented on the album. Furthermore, even in the case of a magical, otherworldly visual show, completed by a majestic playing of classics, I still would not think a DVD worthy of a five star review. Even if a filmed concert is full of new material, I still would might feel the same way (or perhaps I wouldn't). For some reason, I simply feel that a studio release is the band's or artist's true outputs, true work, and in a way, their true purpose, and all else is simply a lovely distraction from the beef (EPs, compilations, singles, DVDs included). That being said, if ever in the history of music, if there was one DVD I would give five stars, it would unquestionably, undoubtedly, be Peter Gabriel's masterpiece Growing Up Live.

We all know the great Gabe has been the king of musical theatrics since way back in the early Genesis days when he first painted his face, cut his hair with the inverted semi-Mohawk, performed special stories for live concerts, and wowed all audiences with his silly dances, his dramatic singing, his many costumes, stage props, and mighty presence. Now, Peter has still managed to capture that magical theatrical spirit of his early days, but has dressed it in a more mature attire. Never in the history of concerts has there ever been a more elaborate production. The absolutely massive venue, packed to its limit with enthusiastic fans, plays host for a baffling array of lights, props, projectors, screens, and anything else you can name. From the rotating circular stage, to the sinking mesh football, which opens to reveal a majesty sphere, which opens to reveal a zorb ball (which Peter eventually enters and rolls around in), to the bicycle he rides, to the secondary stage that lowers from the ceiling, which he and his daughter walk around on upside down (or.downside up), et cetera, et cetera. It is truly amazing how much work went into the production of this concert. But even if the music were to be stripped of the grandiose presentation, the soul in the playing, and the earnest singing would still be powerful enough to send chills.

The masterful set list ranges from his elegant and personal Up, all the way back to his sincere debut, with many stops through his discography. The songs chosen range from the classics, to the not-so-famous. Regardless of songs' obscurity, every single one is a great selection, and I doubt the Gabe has ever given a more heartfelt, a more graceful, a more polished, a more dynamic performance of these songs: in studio or otherwise. The amazing talent of each individual band member (not the sort of Dream Theater, virtuoso talent, but a more elegant manifestation of the word) is amazing, from the feel of the magnificent Ged Lynch on the drums, to the organic and sensitive, yet precise guitar playing of both David Rhodes and Richard Evans, to the epic grooving of the legendary Tony Levin. But, let us not overlook the two women of the show: the simply stunning keyboarding of Rachel Z, and the stellar vocal work from the beautiful Melanie Gabriel. All musicians gel ingeniously, and no one seems isolated on the stage.

Now, I am under the impression that many or some (for lack of a better term) "classic prog purists" were unsure, or even disapproving of Peter Gabriel's synthetic 80s pop sound. They will be glad to know that all 80s songs played on this DVD have shed the 80s pop sound, and acquired a more mature and modern feel. However, such purists may also have been hesitating when it came to Peter's more modern sound: the electronic, though regal effects and sound clips may have seemed too artificial. Well, all effects remain on the live version, being scripted to play with the music (you can see the time-line on Peter's computer screen on his on-stage desk). If you weren't particularly fond of the electronic effects on Up (and I doubt many of you fall into this category), then there is no antidote for you here. However, there is plenty of excellent analog and acoustic playing to please anyone. In addition, we have a great appearance by the stellar Blind Boys of Alabama, and some lesser known ethnic musicians, who add a whole dimension of a World music spice to Gabriel's already impressive range of musical influences.

Special features are very nice: the recorded thoughts of Peter on the tour are very enlightening and interesting, and the sideshow of Tony's photography over the course of the tour is excellently complimented by a new acoustic mix of More Than This. Packaging is fantastic, with the dual booklets, the beautiful artwork throughout the thing, and its smooth, gorgeous jacket. Video and sound quality are both beyond perfect, if you can imagine that. I swear, as the concert goes on, you can see Peter's hairs grow, and you can watch the beads of sweat escape his pores. That's how sharp the picture is. A slew of effects fills the concert, but never overpowers the music. Colour and shading changes, momentary slow motion sequences, and especially on The Barry Williams Show, plenty of imitated television static and whatnot. It doesn't ruin the concert experience at all, but actually adds to it. In fact, nothing ruins this concert experience. It is phenomenal in every aspect: even Peter's age doesn't do so. Unlike other gray legends, the Gabe has held to his musical talents, and has not at all lost his voice, his enthusiasm or energy in delivery, or his sense of theatrics. In fact, it's so phenomenal that I would go so far as to call this the greatest concert DVD to have crossed my path, and any casual Gabriel fan will be glad to have coughed up the mere twenty or thirty dollars (whatever it costs now) for a piece of progressive music brilliance. Growing Up is an essential DVD: a masterpiece of live music, but not necessarily progressive music.

Shakespeare | 4/5 |


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