It’s a strange feeling to pass judgment on a work and then have to completely reassess the situation. That’s what happened with Peter Gabriel’s Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped due to a manufacturing error. The contents of Disc One are located on Disc Two and vice versa.
Because of that, I watched multiple times what turned out to be the “Still Growing Up Unwrapped” film, and tried to wrap my head around why the content didn’t match what was listed on the packaging.
Admittedly, I’ve loved nearly every single thing Gabriel has done as a solo artist in the studio and on a stage, and appreciate his desire to perform his songs in a way that artfully plays with the conventions of what encompasses a concert experience. But, due to the miscue, I couldn’t get past the “concept” of disrupting the fluidity of a concert representation.
With the confusing situation eliminated this re-issue offers two distinct discs — a 13-song concert film for pure pleasure – and another disc with most of the same material mixed with interviews that offer musing by Gabriel and his band on art, touring, being a bandleader, therapy, being a commercial artist and technology as well as a physical depiction of revealing one’s self by occasionally using his face as a video screen.
Since this is the final leg of the European Growing Up tour, Gabriel and his six-pieced backing band played a variety of venues with different stage configurations. This deep into the tour also reveals the songs becoming as living breathing entities due to the musicians performing them night after night, i.e. “Red Rain” and “Solsbury Hill” have a forward-motion sense of swing to them that’s far different from their original versions.
Through a mix of shot choices and editing that enhance the proceedings, director Hamish Hamilton displays an innate understanding of the material and the musicians.
The set presents hits such as “Sledgehammer” with a pair from “US” (“Digging in the Dirt” and “Secret World”) and rarities – “White Ashes” and “The Tower That Ate People” from “OVO” and “Burn You Up, Burn You Down.”
While each of the 13 numbers offer its own choreography, what’s most moving (and astounding) are set pieces that involved father and daughter (Peter and vocalist Melanie Gabriel) on “Come Talk to Me” and the two riding Segways around the stage during “Games Without Frontiers.”
Complemented by Gabriel’s musings on the second disc, “Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped” becomes another mesmerizing concert document as well as a creative peak inside the innerworkings of the artist.