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This review is from: Live Blood (Audio CD)
Many have slated Peter Gabriels journey into orchestral music. I personally found it a very entertaining detour from his usual work. He's working on new stuff now anyway so the critics should be pleased.
Similar to the Secret World Live album, Live Blood is the soundtrack to the DVD which has been transferred (or transfused if you like) onto a cd. This doesn't always work very well but I'll come back to that later. Unlike the Secret World Live stuff, both the DVD and CD of Live Blood include the entire setlist of the show. (I know because I was there).
Now obviously, if you don't like the orchestral stuff he's doing, you wont like this album so don't bother but if you like it, this is a great live album to own. The arrangements of some classics from PGs past are absolutely stunning. The orchestra are not used as a gimmick but are instead use very professionally to great effect.
Intruder is creepier than ever and opens a very atmospheric show. It's followed up by a beautiful rendition of Wallflower. Only problem with Wallflower is that the end chants of "Though you may disappear, you're not forgotton here" lack some of the energy of the original.
The "scratchies" as Peter refers to them are the low points. Instead of choosing the better songs from Scratch My Back like Mirrorball or My Body is a Cage, he chose The Boy in the Bubble which is, frankly, a little boring and miserable, as is Apres Moi. The Book of Love and Power of the Heart are better but are still too long and repetitive to hold my interest.
The real gems are the unexpected songs like The Drop and Washing of the Water. Both very simple but beautiful arrangements with lovely vocals, including some from Melanie on WOTW. There are very powerful songs like Biko, Red Rain and Digging in the Dirt, mixed in with some chilling and beautiful songs like San Jacinto and Mercy Street.
The standout tracks, in my opinion, include; Downside Up which has the usual duet between Father and Daughter. On the studio album it ended rather flatly after "Pulls me in" but on the live album we get the full orchestra jam session. Possibly one of the best parts of the show. So much energy. Signal to Noise and Rhythm of the Heat are incredible. The strength of these songs is impressive on the original albums but here they blow you away. Each piece of drumming is replaced by strings. It's truly jaw-dropping.
Obviously, you have the classic end-of-show songs. Solsbury Hill is very jolly and In Your Eyes is moving as always and features guest vocals from Sevara who PG fans may remember from the Growing Up tour. Don't Give Up takes on a whole new life with the orchestra. The deep emotions behind each verse are laid bare with beaautifully raw vocals from Peter and Ane Brun.
The last track is the instrumental The Nest That Sailed The Sky. As I stated in my review of OVO, this track is unbelievably moving. I had tears in my eyes when I heard it live. This track is just amazing. It's worth buying the album just to hear this.
On a different note. A lot of people are whineing about Ane Bruns voice and making the ridiculous suggestion that he "bring back Kate Bush" as though that was withing PGs power. Pining for Kate Bush aside, go and listen on youtube to some of Ane Bruns singing and if you don't like it, don't buy the album. I personally like her voice very much and I think this version of Don't Give Up actually surpasses the Secret World Live version in quality. I couldn't disagree more with the idea that she "ruins the songs".
I do have two issues with this album however. The break between the two discs is between San Jacinto and Digging in the Dirt. The actual interval was after Biko and San Jacinto marked the start of the second half. This might be excused as an issue of space on each disc but the next problem is, in my mind, not excusable.
After The Nest That Sailed The Sky, the album should end. It doesn't. The stunning beauty and power of the last song is ruined by a synthesised version of The Tower That Ate People. This was not played at the show but was played over the credits of the DVD. As another reviewer stated, the audio has been lifted off the DVD with no attempt to remove this music. It ruins the effect of an orchestral album and destroys the emotion of Nest. It just comes across as really lazy. So watch out 'cos this blood is contaminated.
Those problems aside, 9 quid is not bad at all so it's still worth buying. As much as I enjoyed the orchestral offerings from Peter Gabriel, I'm glad this album marks the end of this journey and the start of his new work.