As far as I am concerned Peter Gabriel is a musical God so one would expect this to be a project, including as it does former members of Gabriel’s touring band and an ex-member of progressive luminaries King Crimson, which would appeal to me. Alas, a few tracks in to the first of these two live albums and I was thinking of writing my shortest review ever:-
“What’s the point?”
However, I do try to give artists, all of whom have more musical talent in their little fingers than I have in my whole body, a fair crack of the whip so I set out again, listening to these two sets repeatedly, thinking that I must be missing something. I packed some sandwiches and some drinks and began my journey into the world of The Security Project. One other review excerpt I read gave me hope as I embarked on this exploration:-
“The group goes far beyond conventional tribute band territory, infusing the songs with new arrangements and elements while staying true to the spirit of the material.”
Lay Your Hands on Me commences Live 1, and it has to be said the quality of playing and singing is excellent. It is very clear that these really are class musicians, and this version is almost identical to the original Peter Gabriel version, right down to the sampled concrete scraping noises. I Don’t Remember follows and Brian Cummins, also of Genesis tribute band Carpet Crawlers UK, shows just why he sings in such bands with a perfect rendition of Gabriel’s vocals, right down to the memorable yelp in this great song. Peter Gabriel’s third album, aka Melt, is further mined for another uncannily familiar rendition, this time of No Self Control. As they sing “I Don’t Know How to Stop”, I can’t help thinking: I wish you would!
The main problem I have with this sort of album is that whilst such identical performances may be skilful and nostalgic, and probably very entertaining in a live context, they are rather uninspiring and rather soul-less. It feels like looking at a forged painting – it may be nice to look at, but something is missing and it conveys nothing about the artist.
Nevertheless, I ploughed on in to an eerie The Family and The Fishing Net, one of my favourite Gabriel songs – after all I am a very keen Gabriel fan so it’s not hard to listen to this stuff. After a desert of imitation I was gratified to find an oasis of deviation in the middle section of strange guitar sounds, conveying a sense of dislocation. Such a straying from the path of imitation is refreshing… but alas we return to very familiar ways very soon. Sadly, I have to report that the next four songs are more or less exactly the same as the Peter Gabriel originals. I was nearly tempted just to switch to those Gabriel albums. Just when I was giving up hope, the next couple of songs offer some originality with an ethereal opening to Games without Frontiers spliced with a song from Gabriel’s soundtrack album Passion, Of These, Hope. This is followed by an eerie synth driven intro to Here Comes the Flood, which is sung beautifully over a simple guitar backing. Now these versions sparked my interest. Personally, I prefer covers to offer something new to a song – if I want to hear what it originally sounded like I will go back to the original – just call me old fashioned! But again we return to ‘Carbon Copy Land’ for the closing songs to Live 1 – very well done, but never far from the originals.
Time for my packed lunch and some liquid refreshment to prepare me for Live 2. I should have had stronger drinks as I was plunged back into a musical version of West World, with perfect facsimiles of familiar songs. I could bore you with further descriptions of songs which sound just like Peter Gabriel, but if you like Peter Gabriel you will know exactly how they sound. Sung and played very well indeed, as one would expect from a band of this calibre… but one would also expect such a band to have the ability and hopefully the imagination to play the songs in a recognizable way but add a few more original twists or interpretations. What is notable about these albums is that they do choose some wonderful songs which Gabriel has rarely sung, such as Moribund the Burgermeister or White Shadow, so it is interesting to hear these being performed. In my journey through Live 2 I did encounter a song which almost made the whole thing worth it – a beautifully sung and played version of Mercy Street with only an acoustic guitar. This breathed new life in to this delicate classic.
However, that was almost cruel as this interesting re-interpretation was the last time we significantly stray away from the Sacred Path of the Angel Gabriel. The crowd seemed to really enjoy it, which is understandable – these are brilliant songs played by a very talented band, including Trey Gunn of King Crimson fame and ex-Gabriel band member Jerry Marotta on drums and, surprisingly, lead vocals on Genesis song Back in N.Y.C.
If this band hoved into view in my local area I would probably consider going to see them, particularly as new material from Peter Gabriel now appears to be about as frequent as an appearance of Halley’s Comet. However, tribute bands are a thorny subject – entertaining and nostalgic undoubtedly, but one also wonders if they stifle interest in newer original artists – yet the conundrum for these musicians is that if this exact same band recorded an original album and toured it I sadly and strongly suspect that their audiences would be a fraction of The Security Project crowd numbers. Unfortunately, many fans appear to have fossilized musical tastes and fear exploring new music and artists.
By all means go to see this band but I return to my original thought – if the material is so close to the original versions I struggle to understand why one would not just go back to listen to the original artist. As I said at the beginning:-
What’s the point?
01. Lay Your Hands on Me (5:56)
02. I Don’t Remember (3:59)
03. No Self Control (4:08)
04. The Family and the Fishing Net (7:13)
05. I Have the Touch (4:36)
06. Intruder (4:23)
07. The Rhythm of the Heat (4:45)
08. San Jacinto (7:45)
09. Games without Frontiers – Of These, Hope (8:08)
10. Here Comes the Flood (7:37)
11. Back in N.Y.C. (5:47)
12. Biko (6:14)
Total time – 70:31
01. Family Snapshot (4:44)
02. Moribund the Burgermeister (4:23)
03. Humdrum (3:53)
04. Mercy Street (4:42)
05. Wallflower (6:14)
06. White Shadow (5:02)
07. Father, Son (3:57)
08. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (5:40)
09. Fly on a Windshield (4:51)
10. On the Air (5:22)
Total time – 48:44
Trey Gunn – Touch Guitar & Backing Vocals
Brian Cummins – Lead Vocals
Michael Cozzi – Guitar & Backing Vocals
David Jameson – Keyboards & Eigenharp
Jerry Marotta – Drums & Percussion, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocal (LIVE 1, track 11)
Record Label: Giant Electric Pea
Countr of Origin: U.S.A.
Year of Release: 2016 (both albums)