"Encore! Encore!" - The 2004 Encore Series Peter Gabriel live recordings reviewed by Frank Musillani.

If you are like me, you donít just attend a concert. You EXPERIENCE it. You purchase your ticket and walk past it a hundred times before the gig as it lies on your bedside cabinet. You wait weeks, or even months for the day. When that day finally arrives you get to the gig early; browse around the merchandise stall to buy your T shirt or souvenir programme looking for that perfect souvenir to remind you of the evening you spent with one of your favourite performers.

Well, now you can do better than the T shirt, and for about the same price. If you are a CD trader, it is very rare to find a decent sounding copy of the show, but now you can take home a direct mix from the soundboard. Peter Gabriel's entire summer 2003 and 2004 tour is now available from themusic.com, either individually or as a set. As one of the more extreme (or perhaps slightly mad) fans, I own the entire set. It is a wonderful experience to be able to listen to the entire tour from start to finish; hearing a song performed for the first time and then being able to listen to it grow and become stronger show by show. Some of my favourite moments however, are the banter. We get to hear Peter speak German or Italian; tell his "dirty" joke before San Jacinto and embarrass his daughter Melanie in front of her friends in the audience during the band introductions. As far as song selection, the basic set lists are the same; however there are a few songs here which are unavailable elsewhere.

White Ashes is reworked and re-arranged from the Ovo album in a live setting. It now features full vocals and a more electronic beat. Games Without Frontiers receives a similar re-working,. A new song; Baby Man is also included on some gigs. This song reminds me of across between The Beatles' I Am The Walrus and something you would hear in the early days of Genesis, more specifically for the inclusion of the flute. Some songs receive the acoustic treatment including Here Comes The Flood (performed in English as well as German on some occasions) That Voice Again (finally performed for the first time on this tour) and a one-off performance of Washing Of The Water.

As far as the packaging and artwork goes; it is kept simple. The first releases last year were kept plain with the tour logo printed on the sleeve and song selections on the back of a card sleeve. Dual coloured discs with a map of the United States printed on the interior. This year's offering is a bit more colourful, but with the same look. While this is probably cost efficient, I noticed some problems with it. Some of the discs I ordered in the past were scratched due to the fact that there is no protection for them inside the sleeve. They rub up against the cardboard. I had to replace more than one show because of this. So, to correct this I went to the store and got some paper sleeves and inserted them in between the cardboard and put the discs back in there.

The overall ordering process is fairly simple; ordering them off the Internet. However, if you do have a problem I have had more than a few problems contacting Customer Service. On one occasion in the past I was sent the wrong show and it took me five days of e-mails and phone calls before I could get through the customer service and have the problem solved. Even then it took me a week and a half until I go the correct one.

So if you would like to relive that night or hear something you missed (such as half a song when the drunk guy directly behind me spilled beer all over my $30 tour book during the encores) pick up the show you attended. If you haven't attended any of the shows, and still want to pick one up; I suggest May 26th at Brussels as it was the longest of the shows but they are all equally enjoyable.

Click to enlarge