For the most part, I’ve never really been a fan of live shows presented “in-the-round”. Certain aspects of the show usually get hidden depending on where your seat is placed. I was very pleased to see how elegantly the band was positioned around the stage. Now granted, I’m watching this through several different cameras that offer a variety of different angles. But I’ve seen other home video concerts in-the-round and they never seemed to reach the diverse array of visual perspectives that Growing Up Live has with this release. The precise placement of each musician plays a large part in the quality of this show. But the fact that they’re also allowed to move freely about the stage, gives the performance a sense of grandeur that would otherwise be lost.
I recently had the good fortune to see Peter live and in person. And though it was in a traditional stage setting, it still left real impression. This was a split concert with Sting where they alternated between songs. I’ve never really been a huge fan of either artist but after that show, Mr.Gabriel can definitely consider me one of his new disciples! Which, in a way, is sort of a strange thing for me to say. His music isn’t exactly the kind of thing that you would normally catch me jamming to in my car. I generally prefer a more conventional approach to songwriting. If you were to classify his music, it would probably fall under the heading of “World Music”. You know, lots of rhythms and melodies inspired by a variety of international folk styles, combined with Rock’N’Roll riffs. But what draws me to his work isn’t so much his particular style, but the earnest transparency of his lyrics and melodies.
Still Growing Up Live is presented in the standard stage format. Somewhat resembling the live show I saw, minus Sting of course. The show opens with a solo middle eastern flute performance that is as haunting as it is beautiful. This concert is also presented in an open air stadium rather than a closed ceiling venue as I saw him. I must say that the sound mix is far superior on Growing Up Live. The tones on the Blu-ray are just so much richer and balanced compared to this DVD. It almost feels like the instruments are vying for sonic position around Peter’s vocals.
For example, the opening song, “Red Rain” is almost completely overpowered by the Bass Guitar. To the point where it’s difficult to make out Peter’s words as he sings. Visually speaking, the band seems much more segregated from each other. And I think this isn’t due to their particular arrangement on the stage, but rather the rapid fire editing between cameras. It just doesn’t allow for the viewer to settle into a moment before it cuts to someone else. Overall Growing Up Live is much more enjoyable and representative of the Peter Gabriel experience.
The thing that struck me right off that bat when I first heard him play, was just how dark and moody his music can be. The main reason I tend to bypass most artists within the “World” genre is because of how blindingly upbeat they tend to be. Now I’m not saying that all music has to have a darker side. Put on some Village People and just TRY and keep me off of the dance floor! But there should be some kind of a balance to the music or else it just sounds like a bad rendition of Hakuna Matata from the Lion King! I feel like so many artists of this genre come off as pretentious “Music Gods” who think they have the answer to all the worlds problems. Thankfully Gabriel doesn’t even attempt to place himself in such a role. Instead, he simply offers his own deeply personal perspective on what it is to be a human being.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- Growing Up On Tour: A Family Portrait – This film by Peter’s daughter Anna Gabriel, gives us a backstage look at the development of the tour. What strikes me most about this particular behind the scenes film is that unlike many famous artists, Peter allows his band to speak freely about their experiences during rehearsals and the like. I really love when you musicians open up and expose all the nuts and bolts of what goes on behind the scenes.
- The Story of Growing Up – This film is a little bit more superficial as it covers basically the same topics as Growing Up On Tour: A Family Portrait . I didn’t like this one quite as much as the other as this one was much more “artsy fartsy”. Rather than allowing us to get to know the band and giving us a behind the scenes experience, it’s much more akin to a behind the scenes music video.
- Tony Levin’s Tour Photographs – Peters long time bassist Tony Levin assembles a collection of his favorite photographs from the tour.
- Still Growing Up Unwrapped – Much like the “family portrait” documentary still growing up unwrapped provides exclusive interview footage documenting Peter and the band on their 2004 tour. Again this one is much less intimate than the film by Anna Gabriel. But still offers a deeper look into the inner workings of how Peter and his crew create his show.
- Studio footage (2002) – “Darkness“, “No Way Out“, “Growing Up”
- BBC Later…With Jools Holland – “Downside Up“, “Father,Son”
- Bonus Tracks
“In Your Eyes” – From the 2004 Still Growing Up Live tour.
Growing Up Live + Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped
is now available!