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Peter Gabriel - Live Blood (2CD)

Peter Gabriel releases the concert with an orchestra also on CD


There have been a number of releases that cover Peter Gabriel’s orchestra project. It all began, of course, with Scratch My Back (2010) on which Gabriel covered songs by other musicians. New Blood (2011) had studio versions of Gabriel’s own songs played by an orchestra. After that there was the New Blood – Live In London DVD/Blu-ray. The film covers the original set list of two concerts played in March (actually, even more than that, because The Drop and Washing Of The Water were only played at one show each).

Now this recording comes out as a 2CD set, too. And it is exactly the same recording. It has the sound collage used for the intro of the film and the remix of The Tower That Ate People that was used for the outro. What we have on this set is, literally, the sound track of the film.


Who needs this album?

You get the impression that this release was brought out to make money. Is that a crime?

Gabriel had done something similar in 1994 when he released the Secret World Live film and the Secret World Live double album simultaneously. Times were different then, though. The film came out on VHS, which was rather cumbersome to use, especially if you wanted to go to individual tracks. The CD album made that easier, and you did not have to carry a heavy VHS player and a TV set when you wanted to listen to the music on you morning run. Both releases also had a bonus track: the video cassette had San Jacinto while Red Rain could only be found on the CD.


And in 2012?

The difference in ease-of-use between CDs and videos has diminished with the advent of DVD and Blu-rays. You’d have to have a screen with you if you wanted to watch and listen to the film in the park, but nowadays we have solutions for that, too. A 5.1 or dts sound is certainly superior to CD stereo. Most people have already bought the film since it came out half a year ago, and the new live album does not offer any bonus material.


Once again, who needs this album

This Eagle Records release appears a bit half-assed, to be honest. Most people already have the soundtrack. The intro sound (which was included on the CD) does not make any sense without the video; neither does the rapid fade-out of The Tower (apart from that it’s a great version). Both tracks are not mentioned on the cover; they cannot be accessed individually either..

Fans felt particularly ripped off because the Deluxe Edition of the film included a bonus CD also called Live Blood which offered a short recording of the show (interestingly, with the sequence of tracks jumbled around). This CD was considered a wonderful bonus offering in the Deluxe Edition – and it became utterly obsolete and superfluous when the full concert came out.


And the music?

We have studio recordings of almost every song of the set. The live arrangements do not differ from the studio versions, so a concert album makes sense only if it has other advantages. They are not forthcoming, though. The audience is great, and Peter’s banter between songs is good, too. The evening begins rather quiet, so the first CD is rather solemn – despite occasional moments where things get louder. No problem with that (as opposed to in the film).

The set list … now that could have been better. The tracks that were chosen from Scratch My Back are not particular highlights. The London shows were the first two gigs that contained almost only Peter Gabriel’s own songs. This means that the sequence of songs had not been refined yet. It also means that the live recordings do not contain any of the songs that were added to the set at later shows (Secret World, for example, is still not available officially anywhere). Recording a later show would have ticked more boxes.

On the second CD the show becomes more lively. The attractive songs do their job. The musicians had more routine playing this part. But here as in CD 1 we see that the evening is full of the unrest a premiere always has. The orchestra does not always seem to clinch the expression; the even sound sluggish in places. The female singers sound frequently wobbly and not always clear. Gabriel himself does not mess up anything, but his singing could have been much better. The soft sound design of the venue does nothing to help establish a clear sound either.

Listening to the live album I always remembered how much more precise, brilliant and penetrating the studio recordings were.

The structure of the evening is disturbed on the CDs by placing San Jacinto at the end of the first disc instead of the beginning of the seconds (where it ought to be as the opener after the interval).

The album at least gives us some arrangements we did not have before: First of all, the uncut version of Downside Up. Solsbury Hill with the Ode To Joy cameo. Darkness without Gabriel’s distorted voice. Finally, In Your Eyes with a charming but not overwhelming performance by Severa, and The Drop as a whole.


All in all

The question who needs this album remains unanswered. It certainly is comfortable to have an audio version of the show. But the show itself is mediocre and does not really have many new things musically, so it is not unique (Growing Up Live would have been more interesting on CD). This 2CD set may be an alternative for those who could not be bothered to buy the DVD/Blu-ray. As the first live album since Secret World Live this rehash is a bit tired.


by Thomas Schrage, English by Martin Klinkhardt




Disc 1

1 Intro / Intruder
2 Wallflower
3 The Boy In The Bubble
4 Après Moi
5 The Drop
6 Washing Of The Water
7 The Book Of Love
8 Darkness
9 The Power Of The Heart
10 Biko
11 San Jacinto

Disc 2

1 Digging In The Dirt
2 Signal To Noise
3 Downside Up
4 Mercy Street
5 The Rhythm Of The Heat
6 Blood Of Eden
7 Red Rain
8 Solsbury Hill
9 In Your Eyes
10 Don't Give Up
11 The Nest That Sailed The Sky / The Tower That Ate People (Remix-cut)

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