Release Date(s)1994 (July 24, 2012)
Studio(s)Real World (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
If I were to choose my own personal soundtrack, selecting music that provided the best accompaniment to the events of my life so far, the voice singing on that soundtrack would almost certainly belong to Peter Gabriel.
Gabriel’s music has always elicited a strong emotional response for me. You don’t so much listen to it as experience it. Throughout his long career, from his early days as the original lead singer for Genesis and continuing through to his latest album, New Blood, Gabriel has always used music as a way to explore a variety of different cultural sounds... as well as his own personal demons. He’s never sought to create Top 40 commercial success, although he’s occasionally found it anyway, most notably with 1986’s highly-successful So. Instead, Gabriel seems to constantly challenge himself creatively, finding interesting and exciting new sounds to make his own. Gabriel’s work is ergonomic and earthy, with pulsing rhythms, captivating melodies and chiseled, haunting lyrics that bewitch and enthrall. Such is definitely the case with the 15 songs performed on Secret World Live.
Filmed in November 1993, over two shows in Modena, Italy, Secret World Live presents slices of Gabriel’s work up to his 1992 Us album. The highly-symbolic staging of the tour was conceived by Gabriel and Robert Lepage, and was directed by François Girard (better known for his 1998 film, The Red Violin). Gabriel and his band, which includes Manu Katché (drums), Shankar (violin), Paula Cole (vocals) and longtime collaborators Tony Levin (bass) and David Rhodes (guitar), move back and forth between two stages (one of which is “in the round”), all the while interacting with various set pieces and supported by multimedia on a giant revolving video screen above. The resulting performance is both theatrical and intimate at the same time. It’s also a highly emotional journey from start to finish. The male/female dynamic is very much being explored throughout this concert, both musically and visually. Gabriel’s haunting voice blends perfectly with Cole’s on such songs as Blood of Eden and Don’t Give Up. In addition, there are simmering versions of favorites like San Jacinto and Secret World. Pleasingly, the show ends with a joyous rendition of In Your Eyes, featuring a host of special guest performers gathered from the realm of world music. If you’ve never seen a Peter Gabriel concert before, you’re definitely in for a treat here. It’s an experience in the true sense of the word. Of course, if you have seen Gabriel life, I’m preaching to the choir.
The new Blu-ray version from Eagle Rock presents the film completely remastered for high-definition from the original 16mm film elements. The negatives were restored and cleaned, then scanned at 2K resolution. The resulting image master was further restored digitally and then graded by colorist Ray King. The result is a surprisingly pleasing image, occasionally soft and often rife with moderate film grain, but such things only serve to enhance Gabriel’s vision. The audio is spectacular, including both 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 LPCM stereo (48K). Both tracks are excellent, providing very nice fidelity and exceptional clarity. Of course, the 5.1 mix is the far superior of the two, featuring an active, dynamic and highly immersive sound field, with a smooth lovely bass and smooth, rich imaging. This is a very nice upgrade of the 2003 DVD release.
As far as extras, Secret World Live offers a few interesting items, mostly ported over from the DVD. You get a 15-minute documentary look behind-the-scenes at the creation of the stage tour, anchored by an interview with Gabriel himself. A brief time-lapse video of the stage setup is included as well. Welcome indeed is a 6-minute video of tour photographs set to a Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation of Gabriel’s Steam (Quiet Version) - newly-upgraded to HD. All new for the Blu-ray is a bonus track – Red Rain – that was deleted from the DVD version of the concert. You also get an additional promotional track: The Rhythm of the Heat from the New Blood: Live in London Blu-ray. Both are available in full HD, with audio in LPCM 2.0.
Secret World Live is one of the most joyous and artistic concert presentations you’ll ever have the pleasure to experience and that experience has only gotten better on Blu-ray. If you’re a fan of Gabriel, or live music performances in general, this show (and disc) is absolutely not to be missed.