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Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

4.33 | 184 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars When it comes to music DVDs I find the majority of concert videos rather boring after one viewing, to be perfectly frank. Multiple shots of sweaty, posing rockers from every angle imaginable only goes so far with me. That's what makes this great live show even more special because it never fails to entertain and surprise. I've already posted my rave review of the CD of "Secret World Live" so I'll just concentrate on the visuals this time.

Sadly, I've never seen Peter Gabriel in person (although he's still on my list) so this may be the closest I ever come to experiencing the thrill and, in that sense alone, I feel that I now know exactly what it would be like due to this footage. Obviously the man is a charismatic performance artist that knows how to engage his audience and give them something they will remember forever.

Acute anticipation is registered clearly on the faces of the crowd as they hold lighters high in the darkened arena, waiting for the extravaganza to begin. A single red phone booth suddenly rises from the stage with Peter inside, lit from below as the opening strains of "Come Talk to Me" fill the room. Soon he is joined by his fantastic band members as they, too, rise from beneath. The door finally opens and Gabriel bursts out clutching the phone to his ear, the wire stretching and stretching like some existential umbilical cord as he fights and struggles to move away from the confines of the booth to reach the svelte Paula Cole who stands beckoning and singing to him from the second stage. It's a stunning, arresting way to start a show. (I also must mention that the close-up of drummer extraordinaire Manu Katche allows you a brief and rare glimpse of the man's passionate and powerful skills.) On the lively "Steam" Tony Levin on bass and David Rhodes on guitar accentuate Peter's theatrics by falling right into step with him before he takes the song right to the crowd out on the circular stage #2 in the middle of the hall. The dramatic aura the group creates on the instrumentals "Across the River" and "Slow Marimbas" as Gabriel picks up a long oar and steers the group gracefully out to stage #2 is awesome. This is no ordinary "Hello, Cleveland!" rock & roll gig, that's for sure.

As they start up the spirited "Shaking the Tree," lo and behold a modest-sized tree grows out of the middle of the stage as Peter & Co. dance joyfully around it throughout the tune. The honest energy and enthusiasm displayed by the band is impossible to fake and you can see they're having the time of their lives right on their faces. Their professionalism and total commitment to Gabriel's performance is exhilarating. With the tree still in place they next deliver the poignant "Blood of Eden" as the stage becomes fully bathed in dense red light. The subtle mood they establish shifts the emphasis to the emotional singing of Peter and Paula. "San Jacinto" may be the highlight of the concert for me but perhaps that's just because I love the song so much. Gabriel's expressive hand and body gesturing as he glides along the peninsula between the two stages is mesmerizing. A strikingly large picture of a full moon towers in front of him as he makes his slow journey and at the end his undulating shadow is projected up on the huge screen like the phantom ghost of some Native American medicine man. It's a perfect scene to compliment the haunting, eerie atmosphere the band creates.

Book-ending their soulful rendition of "Washing of the Water," the incredibly hot and funky "Kiss that Frog" and the universally recognized "Solsbury Hill" both demonstrate how choreographed moves don't have to come off as being hopelessly corny or awkward. It's a fact that no one here will ever be mistaken for Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, but Peter and his bandmates are simply having a ball and they aren't bashful about showing it. It's hard to believe these highly-esteemed, cream-of-the-crop musicians are having so much fun at the workplace. "Digging in the Dirt" is one bizarre detour off the interstate highway, though. Gabriel's stationary head-cam provides a freaky, slightly disorienting yet undeniably imaginative point of view that's unlike anything you've ever seen at a rock show. On the driving "Sledgehammer" Peter, Paula, Tony and David traverse the two stages freely, completely involving the gyrating audience that surrounds them.

Gabriel begins the magnificently sublime "Secret World" at his keyboard, then moves out to front the group as they trek through the ever-changing moods of the song. Pulsating strobe lights help to emphasize the torrid jam at the end before a row of travel cases comes streaming down a conveyor belt toward the band like lost refugees from an airport's baggage claim. Peter picks up the largest trunk and carries it out to the middle of the room where one by one each of the musicians walk away from their instruments, step inside of it and disappear from sight. Tony Levin, naturally a favorite with the audience by now, bids a reluctant adieu to his adoring fans before being the last to leave. Gabriel then closes up the bag and walks to stage #2 where a massive canopy drops over him. It's all very cool, folks, very cool. When it lifts for the encores the whole group and their equipment has reappeared as they play a somber version of "Don't Give Up" on a stark set. It works beautifully for this heart- wrenching tune. The concert ends with their phenomenally euphoric version of "In Your Eyes" that draws every person in the place (as well as the viewer at home) under its spell as the magic of tribal, celebratory dancing casts its irresistible charm over all in attendance. The arena nearly levitates. Wow.

If you've never quite figured out why Peter Gabriel is still considered one of the greatest performers to ever grace a rock & roll stage then you owe it to yourself to see this. The music is outrageously stunning and the visuals are breathtaking. You get the whole package. This is Mr. Gabriel at his peak of popularity and middle-age vitality and I have no problem in proclaiming it the best live DVD ever. It's that good. 5 very bright stars.

Chicapah | 5/5 |


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