November 2003 saw the release of Peter Gabriel's Growing Up Live DVD , chronicling his world tour, which was celebrated for its spectacular theatrics. Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped brings Peter Gabriel together again with the award-winning director Hamish Hamilton, capturing his performances in all sorts of smaller and more intimate venues around Europe for the Live version of the DVD. For the "Unwrapped" version (Disc 2), which explores the world behind the songs, Anna Gabriel took over the director's chair with the collaboration of Hamish Hamilton. A simpler approach suggested a different set list, and Peter, Hamish, and Anna were determined that this should be filmed in a very different style. It shows Peter Gabriel as many of his fans love to see him, just playing his music.
Recorded in Europe in the summer of 2004, Peter Gabriel's Still Growing Up - Live and Unwrapped is a follow-up to 2003's Growing Up Live. The idea this time was to capture Gabriel and his band performing a variety of songs not heard on the earlier tour, with the gigs taking place in what he describes as "all sorts of smaller venues," where "we get up onstage with minimal lights and simply play the music." Of course, "smaller" is a matter of perspective; the town squares, outdoor amphitheatres, and other sites in Belgium, England, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and France where the band appeared are still plenty big enough to hold several thousand people, and the production values are hardly what you'd call spartan. But whatever their dimensions, the shows yielded some extraordinarily powerful performances. After a haunting "The Feeling Begins" (a track from Gabriel's Passion, the score for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ), played solo on the Armenian doudouk, Gabriel and company take the stage and almost immediately forge a palpable bond with their audience. Indeed, what we are witnessing is as much a tribal rite as a concert, with the febrile, hypnotic intensity of the music matched by the crowd's chanted responses on such tunes as "Solsbury Hill," "Sledgehammer," and "Biko" (along with the latter, songs not heard on the previous DVD include "San Jacinto," "White Ashes," "The Tower that Ate People," and "Games Without Frontiers"; there's also a wonderful performance of "In Your Eyes" among the bonus tracks). Overall, this is a moving experience that viewers with sophisticated home systems will delight in sharing. The centerpiece of the set's second disc is Unwrapped, an approximately 70-minute "band on the road" documentary that would have been a standard variation of the form were it not for Gabriel's strong visual sense; check out the cool lighting and film projection effects used during the interviews with the artist. --Sam Graham