Hold The Line (Godfather Records GR 676/677)
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA – July 21st, 1987
Disc 1 (59:58): San Jacinto, Red Rain, Shock The Monkey, Not One Of Us, Intruder, Games Without Frontiers, No Self Control, Mercy Street, This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds)
Disc 2 (77:37): Big Time, Don’t Give Up, Solsbury Hill, Lay Your Hands On Me, Sledgehammer, Here Comes The Flood, In Your Eyes, Biko. Bonus tracks, Velodromo Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile – September 29th, 1993: Wallflower, Biko
Several weeks after the release of So, Peter Gabriel’s fifth solo album, he began live performance with three weeks in the US in June, a three month long tour of the US starting in September. He toured Japan and Europe for much of the next year, but came to North America in July for four shows in Canada, and ten shows in the States including to night at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The New Jersey and Philly shows were professionally video taped and recorded for possible use in the future. Hold The Line on Godfather contains an excellent soundboard recording of the second night in Philadelphia. The recording is very clear and well mixed and balanced. It begins and ends with fades, but is otherwise complete.
The show stars off with “San Jacinto” and “Red Rain” from the latest album. David Rhodes’ searing guitar gives “Red Rain” a much rockier sound than the studio recording. It’s also obvious from the start that Gabriel’s voice is strained.
“Shock The Monkey,” which Gabriel describes as “a song about jealousy,”sounds much lighter and spookier than earlier versions. It has that mid-eighties keyboard florescent sheen in the arrangement. It was a common aesthetic judgement at the time to make rock sound more “pop” than necessary. The strange little interlude is interesting, as are the prominent xylophone sounds.
Afterwards Gabriel says that “we’ve tried to change the set for those people who were here last night as well.” The setlist for the previous night isn’t known, but the show in the Meadowlands in New Jersey on July 17th had “Family Snapshot” and “The Family And The Fishing Net” instead of “Not One Of Us” and “Intruder.” It is probably the same with these two concerts.
Gabriel gives the band introduction while the band play an instrumental before “This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds).” This track is his collaboration with artist Laurie Anderson, one of the pioneers in abstract electronic music. She scored an unlikely MTV hit with “O Superman” in 1981, and this tune is equally as abstract and impressive.
“Big Time” is a fun follow up with an unlikely organ solo played in the middle, and “Don’t Give Up” is about “someone who had the rug pulled out from under them.” The set closer is “Sledgehammer,” Gabriel’s biggest hit to date with an extended synthesized shakuhachi introduction.
The encores are the stark “Here Comes The Flood,” “In Your Eyes” and “Biko” which is unfortunately not complete.
Godfather include two tracks for a bonus. Taken from an FM broadcast, they are excellent quality taken from the September 29th, 1993 show at Velodromo Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile.
These are interesting because “Wallflower” is played during the encore for the only performance on the tour. He was joined by guest-band Inti-Illimani, who also guest on “Biko.” “Wallflower” was obviously played since it is about the treatment of political prisoners in Latin America during the 1980’s.
There are so few Gabriel silvers being produced. Hold The Line is a potent reminder of Gabriel’s live show from the late eighties, the height of his commercial accessibility and success. Given the sound quality and selection of the show, it’s a great title worth having.
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