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Music of a Lifetime #7 - Peter Gabriel - "Sledgehammer" (Live)

There is nothing like live music. Not even because of the crowds or the immediacy but because of the excitement that a performer can bring to their original recorded version of a song. Plus, you get to REALLY see how good a singer/instrumentalist is without the use of studio trickery and multiple takes (unless they are one of those lip-sync artists).

I have probably been to a hundreds live performances over the years. The best, by far, was Bruce Springsteen. The most impressive was Aretha Franklin (amazing voice, even in her later years). The singer that threw themselves most into their music would have to be Fiona Apple. The ones I've seen the most times is Chicago.

Then there's the case where you love an artist but, because of schedules (both theirs and yours), you never get the chance to see them live. I could have seen Peter Gabriel's Secret World Tour. They actually rehearsed here in Rochester and did a "practice" show (for which they charged full prices) to work out the kinks at our War Memorial Arena. The problem was young kids and a tiny budget at that time and I just couldn't go.

Fortunately, they recorded that tour and put out the Secret World DVD, probably my all time favorite concert film. It was probably better that I missed that early date on the tour, too, as Gabriel had Sinead O'Connor on the early dates in his band. When Sinead left, he replaced her with the then relatively unknown Paula Cole who just lit up the stage with some amazing, fiery vocals. It was one of the few times that I've seen where a backup artist almost outshone the main act.

The thing about Gabriel's show is that the staging so enhanced the music. The phone booth with the exceedingly long cord on "Come Talk to Me". The circular moving stage that the musicians used to so many different effects. The band choreography, no, not in a Janet Jackson way but on almost an impulse. All of it boosted the show to one of the best I've ever seen....if you can count a live performance where you weren't actually there.