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The Australian 2-24-94   

"You know your culture from your trash". sings Peter Gabriel in his latest. hit single -Steam .

    And so too does this 43-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist. In fact he knows his world culture perhaps better than any other contemporary songwriter. For dozens of years. Gabriel has scoured the earth, fossicking out indigenous music and musicians. Sometimes he has recorded what he's discovered on his own label or featured the performers at world music festivals. But the greatest , if subtle, exposure he's given to these sounds Ñ from Sengalese voices to Sabar drums - is by including them in his own songs. . The result has been almost two decades of rich dance songs , the sum of 100 cultures , yet seamless enough to slip past the guard of radio programmers. HeÕs certainly taught us that the ethnic section in music shops isn't really a scary place .

    Now for the first time in Australia, the Gabriel lesson has been transferred from the studio to the stage with The Secret World Tour. Contrary to expectations , there were no Doudouk players or an army of percussionists , just a standard four-piece band backing Gabriel and his female vocalist Paula Cole . Yet from the standard rock group structure emerged some remarkable sounds as well known songs were stripped back. The disturbing ethereal air of Games Without Frontiers was replaced by a chunkier, funk base. Red Rain thundered through the 6500 strong audience on a locomotive of drums and guitars and Sledgehammer did just that with its slab of brassy keyboards .Those moments of energy uncoiled by the spare rock arrangements were tempered in Gabriel's darker ballads, particularly in the Blood Of Eden and the haunting introduction to Across the River as bassist Tony Levin used a bow to make his instrument weep like a cello.

    The carefully sculpted music was only half the equation in this concert's success. The other was the sheer effort put in by Gabriel . Dancing like a puppet cut loose , even exhorting the crowd to sing a scale of notes. Gabriel tore down the traditional audience barrier. The shows dynamics were also helped by the images projected on the back screen . The whimsical connection of the past and present carried by the black and white home movie during Solsbury Hill , was shunted aside by the grotesque vision from a camera mounted on Gabriel's head throughout Digging In The Dirt. (The shot inside the mouth that produces the cracked tenor revealed no tonsils )

    While Gabriel had to struggle for some high notes, there was no such tussle for Paula Cole. Her molding of the female voice in DonÕt Give Up from the Kate Bush original version prompted huge applause. "I reach out through the border fence", Gabriel cries on Come Talk To Me. HeÕs made his recorded output intriguing in working by that lyric and heÕs imbued the Secret World performance with an all too rare vigour .

Scott Bevan


Talk To Me

Games Without Frontiers

Red Rain


Blood Of Eden

Across the River

Solsbury Hill

Digging In The Dirt.

DonÕt Give Up




Womad 2-19/20-93
Perth 2-21-94
Adelaide 2-23-94

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