The Moon And The Water (Pablo Records P.rec 26/27)
Alcatraz Club, Milan, Italy – September 18th, 2002
Disc 1 (76:51): Darkness, Red Rain, Growing Up, Downside-Up, No Way Out, Digging In The Dirt, Mercy Street, I Grieve, The Barry Williams Show, More Than This
Disc 2 (56:12): The Tower That Ate People, Solsbury Hill, Sledgehammer, In Your Eyes, Here Comes The Flood. Bonus tracks, 72nd Academy Awards, Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA – April 28th, 1999: That I’ll Do (with Randy Newman). VH1 Honors Concert to benefit WITNESS, Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA – April 28th, 1996 – Red Rain (with Michael Stipe & Natalie Merchant), Signal To Noise (with Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn), In Your Eyes (with Natalie Merchant, Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn, Joan Osbourne)
Peter Gabriel took a decade to record and release the follow up to 1992’s Us. Up received generally positive reviews in the press (with some wondering how he could get away with it). Leading up to the album’s release he made a few live appearances, notably on August 31 at the Königsplatz München in Germany and September 7th Piazza Centrale, Arzachena, Italy.
On September 16th and 18th he played two indoor shows at the fashionable Alcatraz Club in Milan, one of the hottest clubs in the city. The Moon And The Water documents the second of the two utilizing an excellent DAT recording of the entire event. The relatively small venue and enthusiastic audience ensure an exciting performance.
Gabriel and the band quietly walk onstage to polite applause before beginning the show with the opening track from the new CD “Darkness.” The song, dealing with aging and conquering fear, serves as a mission statement of for the rest of the show. It is followed by “Red Rain,” a return to his biggest commercial success So, played in a late-90’s techno sounding arrangement.
More than half of the new album, six out of the ten songs, are played in the first half of the show. “Growing Up” is the first really confident and tight performance of the night. David Rhodes spits out a magnificent guitar solo in the middle.
His daughter Melanie joins him onstage to sing vocals to “Downside-Up,” a song from the Ovo soundtrack released in 2000. The show hits a high point with the profound “I Grieve.” This performance is a week after his live performance of the song on “The Larry King Show,” the one year anniversary of 9/11.
“The Barry Williams Show” was the pre-release single and video at the time. It’s perhaps the most accessible tune on the album, and the video displays Gabriel’s wit. “More Than This” is the final new song played in the set. The second half has older songs including “The Tower That Ate People” from Ovo.
The show ends with “Solsbury Hill” and “Sledgehammer.” The audience tries to sing along to the latter, but they seem to have forgotten the lyrics. After a pause where the audience hum and shout for “Peter,” they return for “In Your Eyes,” and “Here Comes The Flood.” The latter encore is the only pre-So song to be played this night.
The bonus tracks come from two rare live telecasts from the late nineties. The first is his performance of “That’ll Do” with Randy Newman for the 1999 Oscar ceremony. The song appeared on the soundtrack of Babe: Pig in the City, composed by Newman and sung by Gabriel. The song itself was not nominated, but Newman’s song “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 was. It lost to Phil Collins’ song “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Tarzan.
The next three songs come from the “VH1 Honors”in support of Gabriel’s organization Witness, three years to the day before the telecast in this collection. The fragment has his performance of “Red Rain” with REM’s Michael Stipe, the live debut of “Signal To Noise” with Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn), and a gorgeous version of “In Your Eyes” with Natalie Merchant, Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn, and Joan Osbourne.
The bonus tracks are all taken from the telecasts. But, despite their professional source, sound much worse than the DAT audience tape of the Milan show.
The Moon And The Water was pressed on silver by the European label Pablo Records. It came out soon after the event and is a nice document to have to hear the warm up gigs from the Growing Up era before the massive stadium shows in North America and Europe. (All those shows would be recorded and sold through The Music website.)
The sound quality and intimate atmosphere (Italy have always been the strongest fans of Peter Gabriel and all-things Genesis), makes this a wonderful document to have for the Milan show, and the bonus tracks are also good to hear.