Performing on The Round during the 2002-03 world tour might have been some logistical nightmares for his crew and technicians, but Peter Gabriel has defied all complications and put on some of the biggest shows of his expansive career. The muscle behind High, his grandiose 2002 release, may have demanded it. Overall, many of Gabriel’s songs possess a cinematic quality that calls for visual enhancement. grow up livecaptured in Milan, Italy is the best way to see this spectacle up close and personal.
Dressed like some sort of space-age monk, Gabriel and his entourage in similar attire laid down each glorious note with subtle precision and calculated maneuverability. Gabriel begins slowly, first with a solo reading of “Here Comes The Flood” followed by the absorbing, unsettling “Darkness”. As soon as drummer Ged Lynch’s tent is lifted and the well-known chorus of “Red Rain” begins to build, things really get going. The former Genesis frontman was known in the early ’70s for taking the stage in costume, as a fox in a dress, as an old man, as a cauliflower (?) and as some kind of pot-bellied, down-at-heel creature that defies description. Without going to such absurd extremes, Gabriel decides to incorporate some physically challenging routines into the plot.
In an attempt to literally illustrate the meaning of “Downside Up,” he and his daughter Melanie, who sings backup, are tense and hung upside down (downside up?). They sing and stride across the underside of the large metal rig hanging directly over center stage, adding a whole new dimension to the song. Gabriel roams the same metal setup with a TV camera, singing “The Barry Williams Show” and turning the production into a music video.
From hopping a ball on “Growing Up” to riding a bike on “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel remains true to his craft as singer, songwriter, and acoustic coordinator. Intuitively knowing which brushes to use, he takes generous strokes with touches like the Blind Boys Of Alabama’s voices on “Sky Blue” or the further accompaniment of Nusrat Fateh Aki Khan (whom you don’t actually see), delivering a raw and muddled Scream weaves to entangle the heart on “Signal To Noise”.
Both Blu-ray and DVD are blessed with a crisp and rich 16:9 picture, along with stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options. Also included The story of growing up, a short documentary about the tour and a slideshow of photographs of bassist Tony Levin set to a low-key version of “More Than This”. In fact, you might want more of it – although there’s certainly enough here to make the trip worthwhile.
~ Shawn Perry