Peter Gabriel's recent orchestral revisit to his back catalogue with the New Blood Orchestra translated into the most profound live experiences.
When I say live experiences I mean from the luxury of the living room via the Peter Gabriel New Blood Live in London Blu-ray seeing as I was unfortunate to not attend the live performances.
It is very rare that reworking orchestral classic songs doesn't sound naff but then again this is Peter Gabriel, the man that brought world music to the attention of the masses….OK Paul Simon and numerous others can claim a large chunk of the credit for that accolade but it was Peter's ongoing passion (excuse the pun) for world music that gave world music it's most avid protagonist.
The New Blood CD works very well and is also well worth purchasing but the Live in London Blu-ray demonstrates how well this reworking of Peter's music sits in a live performance and it is a most intimate experience.
The attention to detail in the arrangement is breathtaking as new counter melodies are introduced and dynamics are changed with the emphasis firmly directed towards the composite and now the individual instrument.
But how do the orchestrations work with Peter's voice and is the standard of arrangement up to par?
Well firstly some of the keys of the songs have been changed to accommodate Peter's matured voice which has dropped a full tone in range but what has been lost in the higher register is gained in the lower and it makes one wonder if the subtleties of this orchestration would have sounded so mesmerising if the key had of been higher in register and that means one thing.
Maybe this is a project that would not have worked so well for a younger Peter Gabriel.
As for the standard of the music as a classical arrangement there can be no doubt that the influences which Peter has mentioned in previous interviews are more than evident but there is no quasi-plagiarised parody going on here.
This is an English beautiful sounding arrangement that Ralph Vaughan Williams would be proud of however I must add this is not some Fantasia based on Sledgehammer this is thoughtful and invents more than it borrows.
Visually this is a beautiful piece of work and the emotionally charged atmosphere of the performance is more than evident. The highlights for me were San Jacinto and Blood of Eden….the latter was rewound about 20 times to hear the glorious note hit by Garbriel in as the end of the middle eight.
And yes Peter Gabriel's voice is outstanding throughout the performance.
I could go on about the truly inspiring and perfect performance by The New Blood Orchestra and the agreed arrangement intricacies of John Metcalfe and Peter Gabriel but that would be a little tiresome.
Instead I give this Blu-ray a rating of 5 out of 5.