Growing Up Live

Released 3rd November, 2003

Growing Up Live captures the live tour, Peter’s first in 10 years, that accompanied the release of his seventh studio album UP. The tour saw Peter collaborate again with Robert Lepage (Secret World Live) on the production and was notable for its ‘in-the-round’ set design. The show played in thirty-two cities across the USA, Canada and Europe during 2002 and 2003 and this concert film was recorded over two nights at Filaforum, Milan in May 2003.

Just before the tour started, in October 2002, Peter gave the following interview, which starts off by exploring why the tour was called Growing Up?

“I’m aged 52 now and so this is a good opportunity to start growing up. I was thinking of the beginning and end of life so a lot of songs ended up being about birth and death especially. It seemed to make sense. There’s a theory that if you’re sitting in a car looking out of the windshield what you see directly in front of you is what you think about, what your daily life is. But actually, there’s a whole other world going on above and below you that you tend to ignore. So that was the Up reference, this other dimension. The growing is about finding a place in the sequence of life.

I’m working with Robert Lepage because I think he has a brilliant visionary mind. He makes fantastic theatre and film. It’s quite witty, powerful and poignant sometimes and he has what I call ‘high moisture’ content. That’s what I really want from my shows as well. So when we start going through ideas and trying to imagine all sorts of crazy things, it’s a lot of fun. We’ve worked together for such a long time now we have a sort of shorthand, so it’s fairly quick to do.

Last time we had two stages; the traditional square, proscenium stage and a round stage. The round stage was a very different feeling; you were more open, more exposed. This time we’ve moved the axis vertically for the representation of birth and death, sky and earth, above and below and the relationship of things coming in between. I think this tour is going to be more direct with less decoration.

Peter Gabriel in Mexico City. Nov 4, 2002
© Armando Gallo

I was looking at this extreme sports site and I saw the Zorb ball, which is used for rolling down hills. I’d always thought that it would be a nice thing to have and that it would be fun to try doing on stage. Initially, I wanted to do it over the audience. Sadly, I was told that the combined weight of me, and one of these things, would flatten various members of the audience, so I’ve been advised against it. But it’s a fun thing to get inside of.

I’m quite likely to fall off. Yet strangely enough, I’m much more confident in the ball than I am on the bicycle. But I’m sure at some point I’m going to come off. So that will add a little interest I think.

It’s exactly like having a whole lot of toys, but at the same time, some of the songs have a serious theme and deal with real issues. So you want to try and mix some of that playful element with trying to touch people and something that is meaningful.

Peter Gabriel in Mexico City. Nov 4, 2002 © Armando Gallo

It’s only possible to do some of these visual things at this scale. You can do different visual things on a smaller scale, but to afford this you need a fair amount of income coming in. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, as some people will just want to listen to musicians in a smaller environment. But I love both. I would feel frustrated if I were only doing the music and didn’t get a chance to explore what sort of visual world some of the songs could open up.

I want to play a lot of new music because not only has there been the ‘UP’ album, but also the ‘OVO’ record. We also asked on our website and I think that there were something like 250,000 votes in for different songs. So we’re picking out some of the older ones from there. It’s a sort of combination.

Peter Gabriel in Mexico City. Nov 4, 2002
© Armando Gallo

‘Biko’ has been such a central part of the last two tours that I felt it was time to give that a rest for the moment.

The band is a mixture of old and new. In the tried and tested friend department there’s David Rhodes on guitar who I’ve played with for many years, since his band Random Hold supported me on a tour way back. He began life as a sculptor, never wanted to be a professional musician, but sort of fell into it. Tony Levin, who’s on bass, was actually on the first record that I did after I left Genesis. He’s the longest serving member, but obviously he does so many other things on his own, with King Crimson and many other people over the years. I think he is one of the most respected bass players in the world, so I feel very lucky that he is always out with me. There’s Rachel Z who is a very able keyboard player. She is better known in the jazz world but has been developing her own sort of rock stuff and has just put out an album of Joni Mitchell covers too. She’s very good. She’s also the daughter of an opera singer and has a very useful set of pipes on her as well. I’ve worked in the studio with Richard Evans many times, but this is the first time live. He plays numerous instrument; mandolin, flutes, whistles, guitar. So that’s fun. The drummer Ged Lynch. When we were making the album, Manu (Katché) was away on tour for some of the time so Ged came in. Manu’s a brilliant player but he is quite a decorator in some ways so it’s always beautifully and very musically done. Ged, on the other hand, sits in this tight box and there’s this sort of powerhouse driving things forward. It felt good for me to try and make the band focus more direct this time out. Ged is also a great percussionist and did a lot of percussion on the record as well. Then, my daughter Melanie is out with me singing, and that’s a real pleasure for Dad. My other daughter, Anna, is doing a documentary about it so it’s the ‘nepotism works’ tour.”

Re-released on DVD on 14 October 2016 and also as part of a Blu-ray+DVD release alongside Still Growing Up Live & Unwrapped.