Peter Gabriel followed up the New Blood album with a series of live shows with his New Blood Orchestra. We’ve already reviewed the album here, however what does the Blu Ray offer and does it venture further from the audio boundary of the album?
The Blu-Ray is a selection of reworked tracks from Peter’s back catalogue released on the album ‘New Blood’ as well as orchestrally arranged covers from the album ‘Scratch My Back’.
Peter Gabriel and the Director have utilised the BLU RAY format to the limit. Everything is down to the detail, even the stunning menu with a slideshow of long exposed photos from the gig. The picture quality is stunning and makes any other DVD pale significantly in comparison. Hammersmith Apollo has never looked this good on my TV after watching countless episodes of BBC’s Live At the Apollo. It comes as a shock to see the venue so clear and defined by clarity. As the conductor Ben Foster says in the behind the scenes featurette it is ‘Hyper real.’
Peter had obviously thought intently about the production of the visuals and they emphasise the songs. They match perfectly with the wealth of songs and instrumental pieces performed here. The editing is coherent and tasteful. It avoids generic splicing and utilises as many camera angles as possible, without forcing them down your throat. The direction and editing combined work sublimely, something modern live DVD’s/Blu Ray’s are incapable of doing.
We did not review the 3D version because we do not have the equipment at this time but we are aware of what that format can offer at this time and we can only imagine how it would have been the cherry on top of an already very well iced cake.
The sound is crystal clear at all times whilst the dynamics of each section of the Orchestra are accurately reproduced. When you consider the fact that the Orchestra are by no means tiny, there is in fact forty-six musicians on stage to by Mic’d up and Mixed, not just for the Front of House sound but also now in glorious Surround Sound for presentation in DTS Master Audio and Dolby Digital 5.1 for those who bought the DVD or Blu Ray.
Peter is quite amusing and appears happy talking between the songs and being rather honest about his Scratch My Back project especially whilst introducing Paul Simon’s “Boy In The Bubble” in which Peter basically admits he ruined it by removing most of the African feel of it and making it sound like a depressing White mans song. Peter admits that the Scratch My Back project is not entirely going to plan!
Even though the picture, sound, visual elements are all extremely thorough and impressive, what does the actual show add? Four cover songs from Scratch My Back and the rest of the track listing from the New Blood album make up the track-listing. Some songs exceed expectations and the original versions, as in case of ‘Darkness’, a delicate haunting piece.
Intruder is even more menacing and quite dark in feel and context what with the removal of the compressed drums due to the New Blood ethos then the song becomes something different and less distracted whilst coming across as the soundtrack to a potential story of an Obsessive person, it is now more scary than ever the spine chilling announcement of the character “I am the Intruder” is enough to make you shudder.
Solsbury Hill actually gains immensely from the New Blood treatment bringing this classic Peter Gabriel song to a rather climatic and enjoyable part of the show (think Last Night Of The Prom’s) everyone of the audience joins in with the celebration of the song and quite a number of them get up on their feet, the stage is bathed in white light which gives a warm feeling whilst Peter constantly plays with a camera suspended from the light gantry! towards the end I would listen out for the cheeky inclusion with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” or is it “All things bright and beautiful”?.
Dont Give Up actually sounds more emotional than the original version with Ane Brun adding her own spin and a slight Gaelic feel to the lyrics which add to this Orchestral version and take nothing away from it.
Darkness is once again a brilliant dynamic track, full of claustrophobic lows and thundering stabs. The DVD expands on the already brilliant album version by allowing some of the sounds to be seen and heard, which helps you focus and isolate elements and piece all together.
Although the lack of a drum kit in the typical Rock form and an electric bass and lead guitar does take a few moment per track to adjust to the Orchestra cover the gaps that these instruments would normally fill especially in the dynamic sense sound wise.
I wish I had actually attended the live shows at The Hammersmith Apollo as the Blu Ray clearly shows what was missed by not attending, I have now opened my mind to the New Blood interpretations of Peter’s work when at the time I was quite certain that Peter would have been better off focusing his time with the follow up to the 2002 UP album.
- The Boy in the Bubble (Scratch My Back)
- Après Moi (Scratch My Back)
- The Drop
- Washing of the Water
- The Book of Love (Scratch My Back)
- The Power of the Heart (Scratch My Back)
- San Jacinto
- Digging in the Dirt
- Signal to Noise
- Downside Up
- Mercy Street
- The Rhythm of the Heat
- Blood of Eden
- Red Rain
- Solsbury Hill
- In Your Eyes
- Don’t Give Up
- The Nest that Sailed the Sky
- Blood Donors – the story behind the project including an interview with Peter Gabriel
For more information about Peter please visit Petergabriel.com