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Back to front 2014 live

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UP The Amazon, UP the Nile… Once that was an idea of Peter’s for remixing his new album UP. In the end, he went on tour and then he toured and toured… and toured…and toured. In a way, it was up the Mississippi, up the Rhine, up the Thames, up the Seine – who would have thought that Peter would tour some two years on end? The first DVD-version of his sophisticated show was released in 2003. Growing Up Live consisted of an almost full concert. Gabriel did not stop half-way through, though, so that Growing Up Live was much more than a couple of images with a concert. In the end he enjoyed it so much that he was touring the Still Growing Up Tour the year after.
Still Growing Up delighted the Europeans. There were even some open air shows with a smaller stage on festivals. In 2002 Gabriel kicked off the Up shows with an unexpected open air performance in Munich, Germany. Some two years later, it ended not quite as scheduled with another open air show on Kaiserslautern’s Stiftsplatz. Hamish Hamilton recorded the last open air shows as well as the longest indoor gig (Brussels 2004) and Anna Gabriel kept her camera running, too. In the end things went they way they had to: Peter Gabriel now releases a second live DVD of his marathon tour. A fine package with lots of Gabriel in it. What about new stuff?


Technical data

Peter once more spoils us with 16:9 image as well as the usual choice between stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and crystal dts-Surround-Sound. Of course, the pleasure is the greatest with dts. Still one has the impression that the sound is not the smoothest; in fact, it seems strangely compartmentalized. As usual, Gabriel makes full use of the rear speakers which makes for a fantastic surround experience.


Packaging

cover The double DVD set comes in a so-called Pozzoli Slipcase Pack. Inside the sumptuous package there is a booklet to enjoy.


Content

You can watch, basically, two concerts that are almost identical – because the same film material was used for both. Don’t worry, it’s not a Farewell Tour. The first DVD contains the concert film proper. So does the second, but there the set list is slightly different and it actually is a documentary with an 80 minute interview marathon and additional images and videos Anna Gabriel shot backstage during the show. There is also interesting bonus material.



Concert film, Still Growing Up Live, DVD 1

The Still Growing Up Tour 2004 was as successful as it was praised. We remember that it still is the tour to promote Up. Somewhere between Ischgl and Kaiserslautern, though, Darkness, More Than This, Growing Up and even Signal To Noise vanished from the live set. These songs were not replaced either, so if you looked closely you would find that the last concerts were virtually Up-free. For a large-scale tour to promote an album, this is a curious situation. But then Peter never really was into minor details like these.
 
The film opens with The Feeling Begins, which was performed just once instead of Here Comes The Flood – by Levon Minassian at the Nîmes Open Air. An interesting performances and not a bad start at all, although one might consider it a bad change because Gabriel’s own gig was, of course, shortened by it.
It is followed by Red Rain and a patchwork of images that can make you quite dizzy. Still Growing Up continues a development that began on the Play DVD: The concert film is a collage from several concerts with the audio track of just one show. The fact that Peter speaks mainly French would seem to indicate that the audio track (or major parts of it) is from Nîmes. It is during Secret World that one really notices the sound, albeit in a negative way. It seems rather bumpy and by no means as powerful as on Growing Up Live. The confusion is heigthened by the patchwork of images from Brussels, Lucca, Lyon, Nice, Nîmes and Kaiserslautern. The round stage with the egg gives way to an end stage with a Floydian circle of light on the cealing, which is suddenly replaced by the arc in front of the Kaiserslauten stage, the incredibly large crowds of the Paleo Festival and a botanical garden of sorts in front of the French stage. Very confusing, the more so during White Ashes when Peter circles the stage in Brussels, a thing he could not do for the festivals. Except for The Feeling Begins, White Ashes is the first song of this concert that had not been released on  Growing Up Live. The video for Games Without Frontiers live had of course been released as an appetizer on Play, but it had not been included on the previous live DVD. Peter was given additional opportunities to play around in Kaiserslautern where he would assiduously ride across the arc in front of the stage. The images for Burn You Up Burn You Down are most peculiar. The video focuses on the Brussels gig, but you can spot the odd festival stage – which is odd because the song was not played on the festivals the material was taken from. The Tower That Ate People is a highlight of this DVD. It was played in a very powerful version on the 2004 tour and proved a big bonus for the live set. It seems, however, that the song was improved even further for the DVD. While a classic Gabrielian jumble of lyrics was not corrected (during Secret World), some distortion was added to The Tower after the recording so that it resembles the album version. The Tower and the song after it, San Jacinto, make their first appearance on DVD (from this tour, anyway). The patchwork of images works particularly well for San Jacinto, and the song gains even more intensity.


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News, too, for Digging In The Dirt for which Peter did not wear a head-cam. The DVD for the first time records the “blinding effect” of the spot at the end of the song. Audiences may remember that this effect did not work in Kaiserslautern where the spot remained dark.
Not much new for Solsbury Hill. Peter left his bike in the shed, and near the end of the song some of the musicians run along the stage, or, as in Kaiserslautern, across the arc. Sledgehammer features the famous lamp jacket again. The last two songs of the main film bring new material again: Come Talk To Me did not make it on the Growing Up Live DVD though it was played on one of the two nights that were filmed in Milan. It is, finally, released on this DVD. The sound and images (at least most of it) come from the Brussels show and it sure is another highlight. Then the show comes to a worthy end: Biko features much material from Kaiserslautern. While the band are still playing Biko, we see Peter hurrying away in a bathrobe. In the end, Ged Lynch leaves the stage and (Still) Growing Up is history. All announcements of the show are from France, most probably from the Nîmes show. The only exception is The Tower That Ate People which is from the Paleo Festival. Hopes of (German) fans that one or two German announcements would make it onto the DVD were thus disappointed. The main film lacks Baby Man and In Your Eyes, though these songs were performed on the filmed concerts.


Documentary: Still Growing Up Unwrapped – DVD 2

faceUnlike the previous Growing Up Live, Still Growing Up Live consists of 2 DVDs. The second DVD is labelled Unwrapped. It contains another concert film that is mostly based on the material used on DVD 1. These 85 minutes, however, are more than just another concert film. It is a work by Anna Gabriel (supported by Hamish Hamilton). During the songs there a number of interviews, mostly with Peter. Occasionally we get to see impressions from the journeys and the backstage areas. Hamish Hamilton’s live images are often projected onto Peter’s face which adds an artistic touch to the documentary. For an impression of the effect, see our screen shot gallery from image #50 onwards. The way the relationship between father and daughter is presented for Come Talk To Me is wonderful. We see Peter and Melanie in different and changing shots. Peter originally wrote Come Talk To Me because he feared that he had lost communication with his daughter Melanie. That it is Melanie who sings this song with her father makes this performance the more precious.

In the interviews Peter is asked about a broad variety of things such as his career, character traits, vanity and his affinity for all things technical. Peter’s replies provide lots of information and they are very entertaining, e.g. when he talks about the time in the 70s when he was the support act for Frank Zappa’s German tour. The music fades into the background so that it takes the viewer/listener quite long to notice that The Tower That Ate People appears rather late. While Biko is performed Peter once more recalls in vivid detail how he came to write this anthem.
Many German fans were at the final concert of the tour in Kaiserslautern. They talk about how they actually went *twice* to see the concert. The gig that had been scheduled for July 18, 2004 was cancelled because Peter had some health problems. It was soon announced that the gig was to take place precisely a week later – which made Kaiserslautern the final show after two years on tour. On the day the gig was cancelled the assembled fans came together and had a big party instead of moaning about the cancellation. This is when the expression “K-Town” for Kaiserslautern was coined. In a near-by pub the Karlsruhe Encore CD was played over the P.A. and soon Hamish Hamilton and his team appeared to film the crowd. Parts of this material can be seen in the Unwrapped documentary during Sledgehammer. You can also find a still image in the screenshot gallery. The “K-Town interviews” are the only time the fans have the word. All in all, it is a fine documentary, although there is not too much new information for 80 minutes.


Bonus Material

There are two more videos declared as bonus material on DVD 1.

peter2In Your Eyes

Many people may have missed the song in the concert film proper, but here it is: In Your Eyes in full length and glory and without any patchwork – all the images are from the Paleo Festival. As guest musicians there are Stéphane Edouard on percussion and crowd favourite Daby Touré. In Your Eyes is also available both in 5.1 and dts sound.

 

No Self Control

As experts immediately notice, this song has not been played since the 80s. No Self Control is, in fact, a preview for Peter’s next DVD: The P.O.V. video is a possible DVD release for 2006. No Self Control, too, is available in the usual surround sound options. This is a very tasty appetizer for another release from the Gabriel archives. As a video, P.O.V. has gone out of print for quite some time anyhow.


Credits

A White Ashes remix can be heard during the menus as well as the credits. This, however, is a longer version.
The second DVD offers a couple of rarities in the bonus material:


Live In The Studio

The band plays Darkness, No Way Out and Growing Up in the RealWorld Studios. These songs were recorded during the 2002 rehearsals for the world tour (available in all three sound options).

 

Live at Jools Holland

Fans covet the recording from Jools Holland in 2002, when Peter was accompanied by original vocalists Elizabeth Frasier and Paul Buchanan and assorted strings. Together, they performed Downside Up and Father, Son for the very first time live. Unfortunately, both songs are available in stereo sound.

 

All in all

206 minutes worth of live music and lots of impressive images – watching the DVD in one go is a marathon undertaking. You can be sure to find something you like on the DVD. The patchwork film, i.e. images from up to six shows with the sound from just one concert is bound to spark most debate. While on the previous DVD the artistic approach took away its authenticity in parts, this time it has gone just a little bit too far. It’s not a bad idea in itself, and it would have been interesting for two or three songs. Changing the venue between songs might have made more sense, though. You may find yourself finding Come Talk To Me or In Your Eyes relaxing because they were filmed in a single venue (like The Tower That Ate People, which is from the Paleo Festival). Why Jetzt Kommt Die Flut was not included, remains a mystery – and a regrettable circumstance. Another absent friend is Baby Man, which we had hoped to see as it was played in Brussels. The technical gimmicks almost overwhelm the film so that is hardly is a concert film anymore. It is a patchy documentary about six concerts that provides an overview over what happened. Viewers may like it, but they need not do so. Producing an artistic concert film is fine with us – Growing Up Live already provided us with a live document from just one venue.
       
Anna’s documentary is fun watching in places, but it also has its lengths. This is mainly because one has watched the concert film before, and the images are mostly identical. Variation is provided by new material and the interviews that are often good for a chuckle. There is some K-Town as well, so they are paying attention to the fans as well.
The sound, as has been indicated above, is somewhat bumpy. The producers must have aimed for it because, ironically, it fits the hectic change of images in the film. The sound is not at all bad, mind you, but it is not as good as on Growing Up Live. Secret World is a little bit worse than the others, but for San Jacinto and Come Talk To Me the sound could not be better. We recommend listening to the dts sound – why settle for second best, really?
The bonus material was well-chosen. In Your Eyes could have been fit into the main film, but so be it. No Self Control is the odd one out, and one is rather shocked to see the Peter of 18 years before. No Self Control does raise expectations for the next DVD. The three songs from the tour rehearsal at RealWorld Studios are a fine add-on – or a welcome supplement, whichever way you would prefer to put it. Two other songs, viz. More Than This and I Grieve, have previously surfaced as tour rehearsals (website, Larry King Show), but were not included here. Peter’s appearance at Jools Holland’s show in 2000, around the time OVO was released, is a special treat for the fans. A pity it isn’t available in surround sound, though.
Peter is an artist at wrapping up his music in interesting material. Whether you are live in the audience or holding a DVD in your hands, there is always a whole lot to discover. Peter is not Still Growing Up, he is Still Wrapping Up. Unwrap it!

by Christian Gerhardts
translated by Martin Klinkhardt




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