Secret World Live
Even before the DVD was released fans were divided about it. While some see it as a simple clone of the video that was released many years ago, others have been praying for this release. This review is not only meant to give you an overview but also to help you with your decision.
Right after work I hurried to the record stores to acquire a copy. It was already sold out at one shop and I bought the last copy in another store for EUR 21.99 (ca US$ 22). I rushed home, unwrapped it and sat down to watch. Hardware wizards and others may be interested in the equipment I used to review this DVD (see below).
When you start the DVD you are taken to the main menu shown below. Unfortunately you cannot go there straight, but you have to sit through the legal notice and the Realworld logo.
Audio Setup (choose between dts 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0)
Play All (begins the concert)
Track Select (select individual tracks; animated bits of the pieces are shown in the menu)
Extra Features (Timelapse, Behind The Scenes, Quiet Steam Photo Gallery,Growing Up Live 2002/03)
First of all I set up DD 5.1 sound. When I hear the first chords of Come Talk To Me, I am dumbfounded. This sound is more than clear. Did anybody ever notice the dialing tone before the first note of this song? I did not. My utter fascination and enthusiasm about the sound dimishes when I look closer. The images seem to be a bit grainy and out of focus. It seems as if the video data had been cloned from the original without any improvements. If you switch to 16:9 the quality worsens. This, admittedly, is the worst thing about the whole DVD.
When he has managed to disentangle himself from the telephone cable and to leave the British phone booth after the opener Come Talk To Me, he greets the audience in their language. Before that there is a brief video animation which gives a kind of introduction to the following songs. At this point it is an elderly man with a flag and lots of steam behind him. So, of course, the next song is Steam which begins with a calm intro before it really gets going. I turn up the volume a bit and the sound is so overwhelmingly great. There’s something for the eye here too. Fountains of steam shoot up during the chorus, and one can hear their hissing sound (particularly well in 5.1).
The video screen shows waves accompanied by calm notes… Across The River. The first of three pieces segueing into each other. Everything is tinted in blue light. One can admire Shankar playing his instrument before Peter joins in. Much like the Drum Duet in Genesis, they “fight a duel” in a musical game of questions and answers leading up to the dynamic climax. Now my speakers reach full volume and I’m on cloud no.7. A direct link to Slow Marimbas which shows Peter rowing with his rainmaker (see the DVD cover) from the square stage to the round stage on the conveyor belt.
When he arrives there, Shaking The Tree begins. Peter introduces some of the musicians. One admires Peter’s way of communication with the audience and the sheer magic of this man.
A relaxation bit, time to dream. Blood of Eden begins and underlines Paula Cole’s qualities. She and Peter are finely tuned to each other.
Then there is a big moment for goosebumps when Peter plays an older song. He travels through the venue on a raft while he sings San Jacinto. I am speechless. Shivers down my spine. “I hold the light…” TERRIFIC! And the finale…Shadows on the screen. Gigantic.
I feel almost insulted when this classic is followed by the pop song Kiss That Frog. The number after this water game once again sends shivers down my spine. OnWashing Of The Water Peter once more shows how versatile his voice is. This is, by the way, one of the few songs on which he uses a hand microphone.
Solsbury Hill and there’s no way of stopping him. He jumps and leaps and dances and sings and presents a whole new appearance of his first solo hit. The crowd is ecstatic and I’m dreaming myself into this incredible concert.
Things become revolting now. Digging In The Dirt is a fantastic live version that does full justice to the studio version as far as dynamics and drama are concerned. Peter does not only wear his microphone headset, he is also wears a head camera for the whole song and greatly enjoys filming himself and others. One could not possibly get any closer to Gabriel. An interactive visit to the doctor including a free examination of eyes, mouth and tonsils.
A video of a man hammering on an anvil announces the following song, Sledgehammer. The intro does not. Peter snorts like a horse and walks like Phil for I Can’t Dance. But then he goes “One, two, three, four…” and everyone’s beside themselves. Peter is not tired by a long stretch, he gives it all
The concert is getting to a close and this is one of the weirdest songs from the department for “fast driving rock tracks”. It is a terrific version of Secret World. Great strobe light effects and a overwhelming performance by the whole band. The idea of how to say goodbye to the band is brilliant: A series of suitcases is brought up in the conveyor belt in the middle between the stages. Peter puts on his coat. He picks up the largest cuitcase, opens it and, one by one, the musicians step into it and disappear. Though he has to force some of them in, they all are finally in the suitcase. Peter looks up until the big bell top for the round stage comes down, swallowing him and stopping the music.
It opens again for Don’t Give Up. Nobody will have missed Kate Bush, Paula Cole does such a good job. A very touching, very emotional version of a fine song. At the end there is In Your Eyes. The end of a big party. Everybody dance and sing and they never want to let this song and this concert end.
But, of course, end it does, and I’m overwhelmed. Shankar’s musical talents accompany the final credits.
Let’s start with Timelapse and the big mistake the producers of this DVD have made here. A whole day in the tour has been condensed into three minutes. It’s a timelapse (including audio, funnily enough!) of the day Peter Gabriel was playing in Frankfurt am Main. The cover claims that is is Berlin, but it isn’t. The reviewer lives in Frankfurt and immediately recognized the “Gut Stubb” [local dialect for “living room”; translator’s note]. The film begins with the construction of the stage, it shows the sound and light checks, the audience coming in, the concert proper and the dismantling of the stage. It is not only very amusing, but also provides insight into the amount of work that goes into this show.
No good DVD may lack a Behind The Scenes feature. The original tour documentary takes fifteen minutes to tell us many things about the show that we knew before. It still is a welcome addition to the concert with much background information.
The Quiet Steam Photo Gallery offers a soothing slideshow of many photos taken on tour. We get to see well-known images as well as photos taken backstage or on the tour bus. The six-and-a-half-minute slideshow is accompanied by Quiet Steam (the Digging In The Dirt B-side). A fine feature to reminisce about the events after the concert.
Growing Up Live 2002/03 is, as it were, an 8 minute trailer for the upcoming tour. If you want to be surprised by the show you should not watch it. Peter talks about ideas for the new tour, about the setlist. He also mentions how they are going to be played and which props will be used for it. Peter talks about what he thinks and feels when he’s on stage, and he explains why he chose this band. The background music consists of bits from Growing Up, More Than This, No Way Out, Sky Blue and Darkness.
Come Talk To Me
Across The River
Shaking The Tree
Blood Of Eden
Kiss That Frog
Washing Of The Water
Digging In The Dirt
Don't Give Up
In Your Eyes
To sum it all up:
It’s an almost perfect DVD. There are two reasons why it isn’t totally perfect. First of all there is the video quality which is visibly dated. Secondly, the opportunity was lost to give the viewer a complete concert. One can only hope that the rumours are true and there will be a full show of the Growing Up tour on DVD.
The reviewer has not mentioned every detail, of course, because everybody should decide for themselves and take a lot of time experimenting. This DVD is a must for real Gabriel fans, not least because of the bonus material. Everyone else and particularly those who already have the video may want to save the money.