Growing Up was the name of Peter Gabriel's November 2002 tour of North America. I was fortunate enough to attend the Boston FleetCenter stop of this tour thanks to low album sales, a Monday night show, and my girlfriend giving us tickets for Christmas.
Gabriel is well-known for creating complicated, technical concerts. In his days with Genesis, he would dress up as a flower, or an old man. This continued through his solo career, featuring rope-swinging antics during performances of Shock the Monkey and crowd-surfing during Lay Your Hands on Me. His tour during 1993 and 1994 was an extremely expensive engagement, which fortunately resulted in a fantastic album and Grammy-winning video.
Myself, being a horrific Peter Gabriel lackey, read through show reports, reviews, and diaries, hyping up for what was sure to be a grand festival. PG's two-staged affair with flown, spinning video screens and all kinds of things popping up and down from hidden elevators from a decade ago would be difficult to top.
The first bit of information I found about the new tour, after the dates and times of course, was the band. Quite a few changes there, with neither Manu Katché on drums nor Shankar on vocals and violin. There were some interesting newcomers however, the most noteworthy of which was Peter's daughter Melanie singing.
According to Tony Levin's tour journal, the loadout for the Boston show was late, which explains the extra 15 minutes it took to let us into our seats. For around a half hour, we sat, listening to the sounds of the Passion album played over the PA system. Then, a few figures walked slowly towards the stage. They were the Blind Boys of Alabama, and they were quickly followed by a man in black. The sudden standing ovation surrounding him gave away his identity, and then his voice gave it away to anyone else as he introduced the Blind Boys and their band. They played some excellent gospel music ("we didn't come all the way from Alabama to find Jesus. We brought him along with us!") for a half hour before giving up the stage to Tanzanian singer and multi-instrumentalist Dr. Hukwe Zawose and his nephew Charles Zawose, who sang and played various exotic percussion, woodwind, and string instruments for an additional half hour.
After about 10 minutes of downtime, the house lights came back down and a single spotlight followed Mr. Peter Gabriel walking up to his expensive-looking keyboard desk. He greeted everyone once again, and then said "I believe we left off here abut 10 years ago," before launching into Here Comes the Flood. I almost lost my shit right there.
- Here Comes the Flood, from Robert Fripp's Exposure
- Darkness, from Up - some very nice lighting with the strobed hung the massive lighting and sound structure above the round stage in the center of the arena. Otherwise, nothing too surprising, visually or musically, except for the fact that PG can obviously reach all the high notes, which he didn't quite do on the album version. The drummer in a tent rising from center stage was pretty neat too.
- Red Rain, from So - nearly identical to the version on Secret World Live. Still amazing to hear in person. This is the first time we got to see graphics projected onto the two hanging projector screens.
- Secret World, from Us - this one again was nearly identical to the other live version I've heard, and once again it's great to actually hear it live.
- Sky Blue, from Up - the Blind Boys of Alabama came back on stage to sing on this one, rising from an elevator in the center. A lot of the weird studio effects were lost in the loud PA unfortunately.
- Downside-up, from Ovo - Melanie Gabriel admirably fills in the shoes of Elizabeth Fraser. She still sounded a bit nervous, until a large ring descended to the stage and she and her father strapped themselves in, only to walk around upside-down for the second half of the song! Peter used this opportunity to introduce the band.
- The Barry Williams Show, from Up - Eh. Peter had a camera and pointed it at people. The song still sucked.
- More Than This, from Up - Much better! The weird warped organ/guitar action stuck around
- Mercy Street, from So - Peter began with an introduction of Anne Sexton, whose writing inspired this song, then gathered his band around to sing the chorus once through a cappella. They then all took seats on the edge of the stage, along with a steel rowboat. The outside edge of the stage then began rotating as everyone sat, looking depressed and playing a depressing, albeit beautiful, song.
- Digging in the Dirt, from Us - featuring the only noticable technical gaffe of the evening. Some projectors had no signal and were displaying their test image all over the place.
- Growing Up, from Up - This is the visual highlight of the entire concert. A gigantic plastic hamser ball descended and Peter got inside! For the entire song, he rolled around the stage, while singing, and then bounce up and down while not singing. His vocal performance suffered a bit as a result.
- Animal Nation - apparently, this tune was written with the help of some musically inclined bonobo apes. Dr. Zawose and his nephew came back on stage with amplified kalimbas to jam along.
- Solsbury Hill, from Peter Gabriel I - this song, too, sounded pretty much like the version on Secret World Live, i.e. not much at all like the original album version. Lots more percussion, and Peter on a bicycle.
- Sledgehammer, from So - Not bad, Peter had a jacket covered in flashlights that required a stage tech assigned specifically to manage his extension cord.
- Signal to Noise, from Up - somehow, this had every bit as much energy as the album version.
- (encore 1) In Your Eyes, from So - as usual, it's the long version, featuring Tony Levin on bass vocals and Dr. Zawose and his nephew again. The absent Shankar really added some necessary melodies to this song on Secret World Live, and the Zawoses were not enough to fill that empty space, unfortunately.
- (encore 2) Family Snapshot, from Peter Gabriel III - Absolutely incredible. I lost my shit for this one.
Each date from the US dates on the second leg of this tour, performed mostly in arenas without the round stage, is available on CD as part of the Encore series. These are unedited recordings from the soundboard, mixed and mastered and pressed and plopped in a nice package for $25.
A DVD of this tour is to be released soon. The tracklisting is the same as above, except for Family Snapshot, which was replaced by Father, Son.
Growing Up is also the second song from Peter Gabriel's 2002 album Up. It's quite danceable, despite its dark nature. The lyrics seem to point to Ovo in such a way that makes me believe that Up is perhaps the story of the life of Ovo after he has ascended into the heavens.
Growing Up was released as a single on DVD and CD, with remixes by Tricky, Trent Reznor, Tom Lord Alge, and Stabilizer, along with 5.1 channel remixes by Tchad Blake.
: Ged Lynch, Manu Katche
: Ged Lynch
Guitars: David Rhodes
Backing Vocals: AD Chivers
, David Rhodes
Tape Scratching: Tchad Blake
(yes, those scratches you hear are from tape, not vinyl)
Programming: Richard Chappell
Additional Programming: Pete Davis
, Alex Swift
Organ, Sample Keys, Bass Keys, JamMan
and MPC Groove
: Peter Gabriel
Additional Production by Steve Osborne
Growing Up was also released as a concert DVD in 2003 with The Blind Boys of Alabama, Savara, Taïr, Dr. Hukwe Zawose, Charles Zawose, and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
- Here Comes the Flood
- Red Rain
- Secret World
- Sky Blue
- The Barry Williams Show
- More Than This
- Mercy Street
- Digging in the Dirt
- Growing Up
- Animal Nation
- Solsbury Hill
- Signal to Noise
- In Your Eyes
- Father, Son
The disc also contains the 'Elbow' remix of Growing Up, and some photos and hooziwhatzit extras.