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Gabriel, Peter - New Blood: Live in London
Release Date(s)2011 (October 24, 2011)
Studio(s)Image/Eagle Vision (Real World)
A number of pop/rock artists in recent years have sought to re-imagine their best work with orchestral arrangements, but few have been as successful as ex-Genesis front man Peter Gabriel. In 2010, Gabriel embarked on a world tour with a hand-selected group of musicians - the 46-member New Blood Orchestra. This new Blu-ray from Eagle Vision captures a live performance from that tour recorded in March of last year at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Like many of Gabriel's live concert films (of which Secret World Live remains my all-time favorite), this one is something of a multimedia mix, incorporating traditional concert footage shot on HD video with animated elements and pre-recorded video backgrounds. All of this is blended with a variety of digital video effects, including various transitions, graphic overlays, B&W desaturation and the like.
As a sheer concert performance, New Blood: Live in London is a marvel. Classic, new and even a few borrowed tracks are performed by Gabriel on stage with accompaniment by the orchestra and background vocalists Melanie Gabriel (his daughter), Ane Brun and Sevara Nazarkhan. The music is fantastic, showcasing Gabriel in fine vocal form. It's worth noting that Gabriel's large and accomplished body of solo work is so richly layered and textured that it's almost uniquely suited for performance on this scale. The orchestra here consistently enriches the emotional mood and tenor of each song, at times sweetening the tenderness of tracks (as in The Book of Love or Mercy Street) and at other times adding to them a sense of dark, almost Bernard Herrmann-esque foreboding (Intruder and Darkness). The result is a wonderful and evocative musical experience.
As a 3D experience, however, it's not quite as successful. Part of the problem is that these HD cameras seem to struggle a bit with low lighting conditions. Therefore, when the stage is colorful and brightly-lit, the 3D effect is very good indeed (In Your Eyes comes to mind). On the other hand, when it's dark - and it's often dark - the 3D effect isn't as effective. Also a bit of a mixed bag is the 3D integration of some of the multimedia overlays - animated elements and the like. They work very nicely in The Book of Love, in which musical notes float through the frame between Gabriel and his daughter, but less so in Red Rain, in which digitally-painted "rain" washes through the image at various distances from the viewer. In the former case, the effect is clever... later it seems a bit cheesy. Still, the 3D is at its best when it's simply showing you the space - Gabriel signing in front of the orchestra, whose instruments and music stands add surprising depth to the image. On the whole, I would say that the 3D doesn't really distract from the performance, but it doesn't always add much either. Whether you choose 2D or 3D, you're going to enjoy a nice musical experience.
That's because the audio side of this Blu-ray experience is superb, with mixes available in LPCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS-HD 5.1. Clarity is excellent, with natural and enveloping staging that features the singer and orchestra arranged across the front of the sound space, while ambience and audience sound fills in from the rear. Bass is rich and full. Flat out, the music just sounds great.
In terms of bonus content, the Blu-ray and DVD include the 19-minute Blood Donors featurette that takes you behind-the-scenes on the concert production. And of course, this package includes a booklet and Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD discs, giving you all possible viewing options.
It's worth noting that, during during the tour, Gabriel took his orchestra into the recording studio and has recently released the result as an album, New Blood, which is available on CD, vinyl and in lossless 24bit/48kHz digital format. If you like the music performed here, the album version is a delight. In the meantime, fans of Peter Gabriel (and music on Blu-ray in general) should find much to appreciate here, whether you view in 2D or 3D.
Video Ratings (2D/3D): C+/C+
- Bill Hunt