Critic's Choice

Both Shania Twain and Peter Gabriel, who headlines the Pepsi Center on Thursday, December 5, have new albums called Up -- but only the eager-to-please Twain, who appends an exclamation point to her title, appears to be using the word literally. Gabriel's first collection of new material in about a decade has been described as unremittingly dour, and while it's not quite as monochromatic as that phrase implies, the disc generally eschews easy melodies and pop hooks in favor of heavy textures and a pace so deliberate that only the most dedicated fans will be able to make it through the CD in a single sitting. But Gabriel remains one of the most imaginative performers on the current scene, and reports from the road suggest that his theatrical props -- including what Newsday calls "a 12-foot transparent hamster ball" that encases him during his rendition of "Growing Up" -- enliven the new material considerably. Even for a performer as wizened as Gabriel, hitting the road still has its Up side.


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