Why just listen to the pop-pop-pop of fireworks when you can watch the explosions in all their eye-catching glory? That's the question raised by this double CD, recorded late last year at a Gabriel concert in Modena, Italy. The project is being simultaneously released on home video. On tour, Gabriel is content to reproduce faithful, consumate, somewhat extended versions of his studio work; this CD set is mostly comprised of recent material, such as 'Secret World' and 'Come Talk To Me'. But the fact is that Gabriel has, since his earliest days with Genesis, always been a quirky visual artist, combining the showmanship of his rock brethren with the aesthetics of avant-garde performers like Laurie Anderson. Aural Gabriel is only half a meal. The tape also helps explain those moments on the CD when the audience erupts into mystery ovations. They are reacting to stage flourishes, as when geysers erupt on 'Steam' or when the entire band prances through some tricky choreography on 'Shaking The Tree'. In the case of "Secret World Live", the video is not the companion piece to the recording. It is the true, indispensable text.
--- David Hiltbrand