Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


New Blood

I didn't realize until during the concert just how apt the name was. The New Blood concert tour for Peter Gabriel and the New Blood Orchestra. At one of only twelve U.S. destinations, Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. I was excited to see Peter Gabriel in concert after 25 years as a fan--since my teens--since he's always been my favorite and I have every one of his recordings and most of his DVDs. Even the soundtrack he did to the movie Birdy. I was a little worried going in that I'd be seeing an aging star well past his prime reliving his past glories, but instead found someone still vitally creative, still making new music and recreating his old by injecting them with new blood.

They were touring in support of his most recent album, a song exchange with a number of artists called Scratch My Back in which he remade the other artists' songs. He's expecting a return song from each of them for a follow-up album (presumably, I'll Scratch Yours). He didn't just do generic remakes, though, because he wanted a way to revision them and gather them under a unifying theme. So he gave up the electronics, guitars, and heavy drums that have been hallmarks of his music until now and instead backed his voice with an orchestra. The album was a bit melancholy, introspective, and dark, a big change from both his previous work and the original pieces.

For instance, here's Paul Simon's original version of his song Boy in the Bubble:

And here is the entirely different version by Peter Gabriel (note, only one of the New Blood videos is from the concert I saw and most if not all were made piratically; but I'm looking forward to buying the official tour DVD when it comes out in the fall):

The first half of the concert featured songs from the album and some similarly serious and sedate version's of Peter's songs. I enjoyed it, but wasn't blown away. I think the emotional highlight for me was the last song of the set, Biko. I've seen so many different videos of him ending concerts with this song, getting the audience started on the chant at the end, saying, "The rest is up to you," then slowly stepping away from the microphone and making his exit. This is an excellent example:

The audience wasn't quite as into it, weren't quite as much hard-core fans as a cohesive whole, but it still felt special to sustain this with the orchestra as he left for intermission:

So the first half of the concert was good, but not quite exciting. The second half blew me away. I asked my friend if it was just me or if they'd turned it up a notch after the intermission, and it wasn't just me. It was great orchestral music with some genius arrangements, all of his earlier work. We learned half of the orchestra traveled with him and half the players were local, having learned the pieces just for this one special event. Here are some of them, with the originals first to contrast.

An early version of Signal to Noise:

Become something almost entirely different, yet somehow the same:

This is a great early video of a younger Peter. About Carl Jung's experience losing himself around a tribal fire in Africa. The Rhythm of the Heat:

I had no idea how they would pull this one off since the last minute plus of the original is just wild tribal drums. They did and amazing job:

I was delightfully surprised to see him doing an old favorite, Intruder. While many of his songs are about noble causes and issues, this one imagines the singer as a creepy night intruder. The electronic rhythms and distortions convey the feeling well:

Without the electronics, but perhaps even creepier with an orchestra (particularly at the end):

And one that might be most familiar (of those I'm presenting; not of those performed) to my readers, Digging in the Dirt:

Again, different yet the same, and highly effective and enjoyable.


At 6/20/2011 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ilove peter gabriel! I wish I would have gone to the concert with you!

At 6/23/2011 2:34 PM, Blogger Degolar said...

I wish you could have too.

At 6/30/2011 6:55 AM, Blogger Degolar said...

A professional review of the concert:

" . . . For anyone who attends a lot of shows (especially those who make a living at it), this was one of those that separated itself from all others. More than a show, it became an occasion, an event, an experience whose sum consequence was greater than its many, impressive parts, all of whom contributed impressively: Gabriel; his conductor, Ben Foster; his arranger, John Metcalfe; the entire orchestra, half of whom were local musicians; Brun and Melanie Gabriel; and anyone involved with the video and sound, both of which were impeccable. The sound in Starlight is rarely below average. Saturday night, it was excellent. . . . "


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