Peter Gabriel – New Blood Live In London 3D

People reading this blog will think I have two obsessions – BBQ and 3D. Believe me, I have a lot more than that!

One of them, of course, is music; and I’ve been fond of Peter Gabriel for quite some time. So I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get hold of this Blu-Ray disc of his 2011 Hammersmith Odean concerts, shot over two night in 3D HD.

It seems to me that live music concerts is something that 3D should do very well, but apart from things like the Glee 3D and the Jonas Brothers, there is little about. Of course, Katy Perry’s 3D movie has just hit the cinema, and will no doubt be out on Blu-Ray eventually, but – like Glee – I gather it is a mixture of documentary and concert. So far as I can tell, Gabriel is the first to release a full music concert in 3D. (Note that U2 have had a 3D concert cinema release, but nothing released for purchase.)

Gabriel, ever at the forefront of technology, has embraced 3D, and has been interviewed about his ideas. For those who say that 3D is a fad, he makes the point that when stereo first emerged, everyone was releasing recordings of trains coming out of one speaker and into the other; and similar silliness. Some of the early stereo music releases often had a very false stereo separation, akin to the current fad for “pop-out” 3D. It took a while for the technology to be accepted and finally settle down to simply represent what we hear with our two ears. In the same way, Gabriel says, we have two eyes, so why not use them?

Like the stereo locomotive, the problem with much 3D content at the moment is that novelty is being substituted for content. This is not the case with New Blood Live In London, as I would have happily sat through the concert in a conventional recording. The music is terrific, with a full orchestra backing him, and supporting vocals from Melanie Gabriel (his daughter), Ane Brun and Sevara Nazarkhan. One thing I worried about is how he could do “Don’t Give Up” without Kate Bush; but Brun presents a very different, but equally enjoyable, interpretation.

However, it is clear that the photography has been planned to enhance the 3D. Lots of shots across the orchestra, and of the conductor framed over the piano; Gabriel making his entrance from behind the backing vocalists, it is a delight to watch. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it puts you in the audience (in some cases, it puts you about 20 feet above them), I would say it is akin to watching it all through a very wide and moving window.

Having decried “special effects”, Gabriel has used some post production effects, in particular during the introduction to Red Rain, where a cartoon red rainstorm seems to come out of the screen. I think I would have preferred that they hadn’t done this, but I understand the temptation. Fortunately, they don’t overdo it, and it doesn’t get in the way of what is an excellent concert.

I think that this is the kind of material that is going to make 3D more than a novelty. That, and this too, but I’ve never been that interested in sport.

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