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Peter Gabriel - Secret World Live

The acclaimed world tour now on 2CD

One product of the Secret World tour is a double live CD that was recorded during two nights in Modena, Italy, last November [1993]. The selection and order of songs shows that the album is about reproducing the concert authentically.
Sometimes less is more. Both Biko and San Jacinto were left out; they are already available on P.O.V. and Plays Live. The recording is therefore not complete, but unnecessary repetition was avoided. 

CoverCome Talk To Me, the opener, shows where this live recording is headed: Overdubs are avoided if possible. The chorus duet seems a bit short of breath and is not quite as good as the studio version. Steam begins with a variation on Quiet Steam before it turns into a very strong number. The piece after that developed from an improvisation that took place during the first WOMAD festival 1982 in Shepton Mallet. Dog 1, Dog 2, Dog 3 and Across The River are from that period; the latter piece was available only as a UK B-side and on the first WOMAD sampler. In 1983 a shortened form was occasionally played as a concert opener. Now it is finally available in this length and intensity.

Shaking The Tree comes in a pulsing, relaxed version. Much of the credit for this comes from Tony Levin’s superb bass playing. It is a bit long on this album; recording the audience participation makes sense for a video but not for a live CD. Red Rain was rarely played on the Secret World tour; when they played it they stayed close to the studio version. Sophisticated percussions and a balladesque performance make up for the weak presentation the song received on the 1987 tour (the song was nearly hacked to pieces by changes in the drum parts). Blood Of Eden remains close to the studio version – and it proves that Secret World Live is an honest live album, or Paula Cole’s vocals would have been overdubbed.

Kiss That Frog is a nice bonus because it shows Gabriel playing an instrument that is unusual for him, the mouth organ. It is one of the weaker songs in Gabriel’s repertoire. Washing Of The Water is much more expressive than the album version. Hopefully it will become a staple of shows to come. Solsbury Hill is included, of course, and so is Sledgehammer. It is a bit surprising that Games Without Frontiers was not used. Digging In The Dirt is another highlight on the CD. The analytical, self-tormenting lyrics are underlined by the extended aggressive performance of the music.

Paula Cole’s vocals in the middle part of Don’t Give Up are remarkable. It is only in this live version that the beauty of the melody reaches its full bloom. The vocals Kate Bush sang for the version on So was so distorted that the reviewer considers this live version far more beautiful than the other.

Secret World Live is the audio document of one of the most interesting tours ever. Since there was an elaborate stage show presentation of the songs it may, however, be more useful to pick up a copy of the tour video (instead or in addition to the CDs).

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

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