Monday, November 7, 2011

DVD: Peter Gabriel - New Blood: Live in London

Last month, rock legend Peter Gabriel released his ninth studio album New Blood, a collection of re-recordings of tracks through out his musical career but done with a full orchestra instead of a rock band. The idea for the record came about when he was doing some orchestral work for the second half of 2010 tour. On the record he worked with arranger John Metcalfe.

To go along with the CD, Gabriel filmed two performances in March of 2011 at the Hammersmith Apollo in London to be released as a 3D film experience as well as on DVD and Blu-Ray. I had the opportunity to check out the DVD of the concert this week and thought I would share my thoughts with the readers here.

I'm a middle of the road Gabriel fan myself; I enjoy his hits and some of the deeper tracks from his albums as well. But I really do enjoy orchestral music; as a child my father took me to see Fantasia in the theatres, and I owned a few classical and modern orchestral albums (Star Wars, Superman: the Movie) growing up. I have more so gotten into the genre as I have a son who is musically inclined in the high school's band.

This concert though is more than just classical arrangements as you also get Gabriel‘s vocals, which comes from a mature standpoint of a man who has been performing for since he was seventeen (he is sixty one now). The forty six piece New Blood Orchestra is conducted expertly by Ben Foster.

The two hour twenty minute long concert is an amazing combination of sounds and sights. From the cool blues on “Wallflower” to the fiery oranges and yellows of “The Rhythm of the Heat”, the lighting and visual cues really contribute to the tones and textures of each number. The production value on this package is wonderful.

As for the songs, it is quite a combination of tunes. Not only are the songs taken from Gabriel’s own work, but we also get his interpretations of Paul Simon’s “The Boy In the Bubble”, Regina Spektor’s “Apr├Ęs Moi” and Lou Reed’s “The Power of the Heart”. Of course, we also get wonderful arrangements of Gabriel’s classics like “Biko”, “Red Rain”, “In Your Eyes” and “Solsbury Hill”.

Besides being able to jump to specific song performances, the DVD also includes a twenty minute making-of documentary entitled “Blood Donors“. This goes behind the scenes of the show, talking to key people on the project and showing how things were planned and staged (including some of the 3D camera techniques). This was a nice piece, allowing the viewer to get a more personal glimpse in Gabriel's thought process for the project. I got a sense that he's a bit of a tech-fan and enjoys the idea of playing with new concepts (and not just in the music side of his profession).

If you are a fan of Peter Gabriel's music as well as of orchestral performances, this might be one you'll want to check out.

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