Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live

BY Ian GormelyPublished Dec 13, 2012

When you look at lists of the best, most influential and popular music videos of all time, sticking out amongst clips by legends like Madonna and Michael Jackson is Peter Gabrielle's "Sledgehammer." By the time Peter Gabriel embarked upon his ambitious Secret World tour in 1993, the English singer was already in the third stage of his career. Having started out as the art-minded lead singer in Genesis's most prog incarnation, Gabriel bailed in 1975 and embarked upon a solo career, releasing a quartet of self-titled albums, each with increasing pop concessions. By the early '90s, he was an established pop singer known for innovative music clips and soundtracking John Cusack's boom-box romances. This tour, and the album it supported, Us, was the height of Gabriel's ambition and popularity, which manifested themselves in the tightly choreographed stage show that would have been right up there with U2's Zoo TV tour (okay, there's fewer TV screens and he didn't call any world leaders, but you get the picture). Still, that doesn't distract from the fact that this was a pretty fantastic performance. Why it took so long to make the transition from VHS and laser disc to DVD is anybody's guess. Leaning heavily on Us and So — still his most pop-focused and, consequently, popular albums — Gabriel is clad in his best Han Solo get-up (white puffy shirt and black vest). Never the most magnetic or charismatic of stars, his crack team of musicians, including a pre-Dawson's Creek theme Paula Cole, take turns sharing the spotlight with the singer, but it's clear throughout that this is his show. What Gabriel lacks in Bowie- or Jagger-esque image or swagger he makes up for with stage props, including a giant tree and POV camera. You get the sense that these performances have been tweaked in postproduction — the show lacks the visceral thrill of a more off-the-cuff-sounding live concert — but the precision works in Gabriel's favour. Bonus features include an added performance of "Red Rain" from the original tour and a 2011 live clip of "The Rhythm of the Heat," as well as a making-of feature.
(Eagle Vision)

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