Case Number 24358: Small Claims Court

PETER GABRIEL: SECRET WORLD LIVE (BLU-RAY)

Eagle Rock Entertainment // 1994 // 132 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 18th, 2012

The Charge

Your heart will go "Boom Boom Boom."

The Case

Peter Gabriel offers up some of his most beloved compositions during Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live. Filmed in Italy over two nights during Gabriel's 1993 tour (to support his studio album Us), the eclectic Gabriel performs in the round, complete with a moving stage and (then) high tech wizardry. The set list includes...

* "Come Talk To Me"
* "Steam"
* "Across the River"
* "Slow Marimbas"
* "Shaking the Tree"
* "Blood of Eden"
* "San Jacinto"
* "Kiss That Frog"
* "Washing of the Water"
* "Solsbury Hill"
* "Digging in the Dirt"
* "Sledgehammer"
* "Secret World"
* "Don't Give Up"
* "In Your Eyes"

Peter Gabriel has been one of the most celebrated musicians of the past thirty years, bursting on the scene in the 1970s with the super group Genesis (which also included Phil Collins) and eventually blazing a solo trail that includes some of the most well-known pop music ever created. Gabriel's signature style is vastly unique, in that he doesn't truly have one; combining pop, rock, world, jazz, and new age themes. Each of Gabriel's albums sound unlike anything playing on radio at the time of their release. I don't usually throw around the word "timeless," but his music is just that. When I hear "Solsbury Hill," it sounds like it could have come from any of today's working musicians.

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live is one of my favorite live albums by any artist; a mix of hit songs and deeper cuts, many of which are stretched out and expanded allowing the music to truly breathe. For those coming into the concert hoping to hear Gabriel's most well known works, it's all here. "Sledgehammer," "Red Rain," and "In Your Eyes" (the best track on this disc) all sparkle brightly under Gabriel's guidance. What I really enjoyed were the lesser known tracks. "Washing of the Water" becomes a solemn meditation with religious undertones. "Don't Give Up" is a sprawling melancholy song about persevering against all odds (featuring future "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone" singer Paula Cole on secondary vocals). In fact, there isn't a musical dud to be found here. The live version of each song is given new life, making them even better than their original album recordings.

Twenty years after the fact, the showmanship on Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live is fascinating to watch. What was once cutting edge and hip now looks downright quaint by comparison. There are moving components happening onstage (a moving floor, rising stage, flashy lights), but when you compare it to the gargantuan nature of U2's live concerts, Gabriel's stage show looks like peanuts. Still, the concert retains a warm, ethereal quality that feels like sitting in a cozy couch. Even the early '90s fashion seems to elicit nostalgia for those of us who grew up with this music (I was a junior in high school when Us was released).

Are there any downsides to this concert? Not many. The music is spectacular and Gabriel's voice is in tip top shape. If I have any complaint -- and it's more of an observation than anything else -- it's the weird dancing that's happening on the stage. Peter Gabriel, Paula Cole, and the rest of the band dance around in this very odd, pseudo-synced style that looks like Gabriel brought in a choreographer and told her, "Look, I want us all to sort of be in step with each other, but it's okay if we also look like we're just half-assing it, too." I would have been fascinated to hear the theory behind some of the band's strangely hypnotic choreography.

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live (Blu-ray) is presented in 1.78:1/1080i high definition widescreen and I was neither blown away nor disappointed with this transfer. The original 16mm negative has been repaired and cleaned up, and for those keeping count, 16mm isn't going to offer the greatest resolution in the world. So, it's a bit softer than expected, due in part to age and a darker atmosphere. On the other hand, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is excellent and features a wonderful sonic experience. Both the front and rear speakers -- along with the bass -- get a heavy workout with this track. Plus! We get an LPCM 2.0 mix in English. Extras include a bonus song ("Red Rain"), a preview of a new concert coming soon to Blu-ray (The Rhythm of the Heat), a behind-the-scenes featurette, a photo gallery, and a time lapse video of the stagehands putting up the set.

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live is a wonderful concert to have on Blu-ray. It's a shame Gabriel's output after Us was so sporadic and uneven. At least we have this live recording to remind us how well crafted and emotionally resonant his music is.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. A worthy concert experience for fans and those looking to dig deeper into Gabriel's catalog.

Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 132 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Featurette
* Time Lapse
* Trailer
* Photo Gallery

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0111109/combined