Secret World Live

Released 28th August, 1994

Secret World Live contains 16 tracks (15 on the CD version) from the Secret World tour of 1993. Recorded at the Palasport, Modena in northern Italy on 16 and 17 November 1993. Peter has always loved playing live in Italy and the choice of venue was deliberate; “The band runs on fuel provided by the audience, and in Italy it flows freely.”

The collection spans Peter’s solo career until that point; from debut single Solsbury Hill right up to Digging In The Dirt, Steam and Blood Of Eden from US, which was – at the time – his most recent studio album.

“The Secret World tour was focused on communication and relationships – the ‘phone was a perfect symbol. Robert Lepage had the idea of expanding on the telephone image using the iconic red telephone box, with a cable that extended from the square proscenium stage full length to the centre of the circular stage in the audience, for the song Come Talk to Me.”

Peter Gabriel, Secret World Live by Laurence Le Blanc

During this tour Peter’s band consisted of Manu Katché (drums), Tony Levin (bass, vocals), David Rhodes (guitars, vocals), Jean Claude Naimro – replacing Joy Askew who started the tour – (keyboards, vocals), Shankar (violin, vocals), Levon Minassian (doudouk) and Paula Cole (vocals). Peter on vocals and keyboards and special guests Papa Wemba and Molokai.

Peter worked with Robert Lepage to conceive and stage the show, which consisted of a traditional proscenium arch stage connected to a circular stage (in the centre of the audience) by a moving walkway. The traditional stage represented an urban, industrial and male world, whilst the circular stage was more rural, open and nourishing. The movement between the two was a key subtext to the overall show.

It was, however, a technical challenge, as Peter Walsh the front of house sound engineer (and co-producer of the live album) remembers in his interview for this website, “It was a very large and complex setup as you can imagine. Two stages meant we needed two of almost everything. Two drum kits, two mirrored sets of vocal mics and a complicated cable run from one stage to the other connecting all the other instruments.”

The show features many memorable set pieces, including Peter’s emergence within the red telephone box for ‘Come Talk to Me’ to open the show, the use of the moving walkway for ‘Across the River’, the literal ‘Steam’ effects and the tree that appears for ‘Shaking The Tree.’

As Peter told UNCUT magazine in 2020, “There was a moment, entirely Robert’s idea, where it looked as if we climbed into these suitcases on the moving  walkway – we were actually disappearing into a trapdoor – and that was the end of the show. A lovely way to finish – the suitcase fitted with this sense of a journey that we’d designed the show around.”

At the centre of it all though, is a thoroughly committed and total performance by Peter himself – further consolidating his reputation as a ringmaster of dynamism and daring – as captured by the concert film, directed by François Girard, which is also available.

Originally released as a 15 track CD on 28 August 1994, the album was recently released on digital platforms with the addition of the track San Jacinto and was released for the fist time on vinyl in November 2020.

“More than the studio originals, these versions elaborate on the dramatic potential inherent in them – the heat and magnitude of rhythm, the human/animal ambiguity of an otherworldly cry”Rolling Stone

Photo: Armando Gallo