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Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens(1987)
7-8-9 October 1987 at Lycabettus Theatre, Athens, Greece
For more about Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens and the Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray release, see Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 18, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Peter Gabriel
» See full cast & crew
Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 18, 2013
Peter Gabriel - Classic Albums: So gave Gabriel fans a little Blu-ray peek or two at this now legendary 1987 concert, one that existed for years only in extremely lo-fi (and incomplete) form in the P.O.V. release of yesteryear, a concert which capped Gabriel's career defining So tour. But now the entire concert has been released on Blu-ray, a big surprise (perhaps even a shock, considering relatively recent statements that no Blu-ray would be forthcoming) to fans who may have been considering buying the pretty pricey So 25th Anniversary Box Set which came out last year and included the concert on DVD. This is a near perfect evening with Gabriel and his opening act, Youssou N'Dour. While the staging is minimal— even more minimal than that caught in Eagle Rock's other recent Gabriel concert Blu-ray, Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live—that only puts the focus squarely where it should be, on the music. While some ardent fans may be screaming at the thought of having to double dip (or even triple or quadruple dip, depending on how many previous releases they've snatched up through the years) to now own this on Blu-ray, the good news is that this offers by far the best video and audio presentation of the concert, and it finally presents the entire concert, including Youssou N'Dour's complete opening set, as an uninterrupted whole.
The N'Dour set is probably the closest to a straight, stagecraft free, performance on this concert video, with N'Dour and Le Super Etoile de Dakar moving through a relatively brief but highly enjoyable fusion of African and more ecumenical World Music beats. But the real allure here will most likely be Gabriel's portion of the concert. As the set list below shows, he delves into a rather wide array of material, obviously geared toward supporting the then fairly new So album, but not focusing solely on that effort.
While there's a minimum amount of stagecraft here, including a couple of set pieces and some kind of unusual choices by Gabriel which may strike some (especially younger fans) as patently weird (like his fetal position rendition of Mercy Street), the concert finds Gabriel and band in incredibly fine form. There is various reportage that some of this concert was pre-recorded, but if that's so, Gabriel spent a lot of time and energy crafting some variations on both the instrumental accompaniments as well as the vocals. Some of the songs feature dramatically retooled arrangements, including Intruder and Here Comes the Flood.
Accompanying Gabriel are Manu Katché on drums, Tony Levin on bass and vocals, David Rhodes on guitar and vocals, and David Sancious on keys. As mentioned above, this concert first appeared in somewhat bastardized form as P.O.V., where the concert footage was interrupted by Gabriel's own 8mm footage of his various pursuits, including working in the recording studio and surviving the rigors of a tour. None other than Executive Producer Martin Scorsese was involved in that effort, and perhaps due to Scorsese's legendary curating skills, the original 35mm film of the concert was evidently properly archived and an existing negative was used to source this release.
Peter Gabriel's set list:
1. This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
2. San Jacinto
3. Shock the Monkey
4. Family Snapshot
6. Games Without Frontiers
7. No Self Control
8. Mercy Street
9. The Family and the Fishing Net
10. Don't Give Up
11. Solsbury Hill
12. Lay Your Hands on Me
14. Here Comes the Flood
Youssou N'Dour's and Le Super Etoile de Dakar's set:
2. Kocc Barma
3. Nelson Mandela
5. Sama Dome/My Daughter
Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray, Video Quality
Peter Gabriel Live in Athens 1987 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Eagle Vision (an imprint of Eagle Rock Entertainment) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. There are probably going to be somewhat bifurcated responses to this Blu-ray depending on an individual's experience with prior releases of this material (in whatever form). Those who have not previously seen this concert in its former home video iterations may be at least slightly underwhelmed, due to the lack of "pop" that is simply the result of a fairly minimalist stage production that often finds Peter performing in near darkness (one of the reasons this review has so few screenshots is that there simply isn't that much to see a lot of the time). However, if you have seen this concert previously on either VHS (stop laughing) or last year's DVD, you will probably be spectacularly pleased with the uptick in detail and definition here, though again it must be emphasized that a lot of the time (at least during the longer Gabriel section of the evening), there isn't a ton of bells, whistles, and lighting displays to keep the eye occupied. Black levels are absolutely superb here, and contrast is very strong as well, offering a really stark differentiation between the nighttime shadows and darkened stage and Gabriel's alabaster suit. Though this was sourced from 35mm, things may strike some videophiles as relatively soft, and while I wouldn't argue with that assessment, I'd in turn point to the naturally film like appearance here as well as the largely impeccable detail on the musicians' clothing and the like. One issue that may bother some is the relative lack of grain. It's noticeable—if you put your nose right up to the screen. But some are probably going to think that it should be more noticeable, especially since so much of this concert is so dark to begin with. It should also be noted that this has been reformatted from the P.O.V. 1.33:1 framing, though my hunch is since Scorsese had his Raging Bull cinematograher Michael Chapman film this, this (or at least 1.85:1) may in fact have been the intended OAR all along.
Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Peter Gabriel Live in Athens 1987 features both a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix as well as an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo fold down. As the incisive liner notes in the insert booklet and some other available documentation detail, not only was this release painstakingly remastered from the film negative, it was also remixed from original stems, including multitrack originals that reportedly had every separate instrument and vocal available as discrete channels. The result is an absolutely incredible aural experience, certainly the best—by a long shot—this concert has ever sounded. The layering of sounds is almost crystalline here, with the 5.1 track neatly offering an incredibly transparent window into hearing how Gabriel builds huge edifices out of apparently simply motives and ideas. The low end on the 5.1 track is amazingly full bodied, offering a brilliant accounting not just of the bass but also the battery of percussion that accompanies most of the tracks. There are a couple of revisionist moments here that evidently came courtesy of Gabriel himself, including the excision of his feral cries in Mercy Street, and while those may bother rabid completists, they're ultimately of such minor concern that the sheer immediacy of the audio on this release should easily outweigh any momentary qualms.
Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Peter Gabriel Live in Athens 1987 is going to be a near religious experience for Gabriel fans, especially those who are still holding onto ancient copies of P.O.V. or last year's DVD. This is certainly one of the most impressive releases we've yet seen from Eagle Rock, a "little" label that continues to blow music fans (like I am) away with its often incredible offerings. This Blu-ray offers great video and stupendous audio and comes Highly recommended.
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Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray - July 12, 2013
Eagle Rock Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray/DVD Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the United States on September 17th.
Peter Gabriel: Live In Athens Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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