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Peter Gabriel - Live In Athens 1987

The 1987 cult show on Blu-ray and DVD with PLAY bonus DVD

Prologue: Whatever way you look at it, Peter Gabriel has made a fine mess of the way this concert film was released. The DVD had been announced for 2006 – we all remember the teaser on the 2DVD set Still Growing Up – Live And Unwrapped. Many years later it turns out that Gabriel is working on a HD version of the concert film, that he had thrown out the concept of P.O.V. in favour of a continuous concert film complete with the four songs that had not been included before. In the end the DVD version of the concert film became part of the So25 boxset (and we have reviewed it here). This annoyed both the HD fans who bought the box and the fans who found the box too expensive. In the end Peter even announced that a separate release of the film had been all but ruled out. The rest is history because a Blu-ray and a DVD version of the concert film have come out in September [2013]. Both versions contain PLAY – The Videos as a bonus DVD. The point of this is probably beyond everybody but Peter Gabriel, but at least it does not do any harm: The Blu-ray is not any more expensive despite this add-on, which means that those fans who do not have the DVD yet get to enjoy the excellently mixed music videos (see our PLAY review).

How to obtain it:

Live In Athens 1987

Out September 13, 2013
Blu-ray + DVD: amazon-uk |
2DVD: amazon-uk |

Please note: This review covers the Blu-ray version of the film. We have reviewed the DVD version of Live In Athens as part of the So25 boxset; go here for the DVD review.

The concert film

There is not much that needs to be said. Fans consider the This Way Up tour a cult event. The show was the basis for everything that would came after it. Many people would say that Peter Gabriel reached the peak of his concert performance in 1987. Indeed, this carefully planned show is a treat for the eyes, and it remains unrivalled in many aspects. Though the show is more than 25 years old many of the show elements still work – or work very intensely for those who see it for the first time. Many fans are too young to have seen the show. The rhythmic opening song already shows that Peter Gabriel leaves no movement to chance. The „surprise attack“ at the beginning of Shock The Monkey on the other hand is nothing Peter could have pulled off again at later shows. He was in top shape in his mid-30s and it really shows on this Blu-ray. Peter leaps and runs across the stage, falls down, lies and sings and dances. His physical performance in these shows is a remarkably intense feat. There will also be the odd smile – about the fashion of the 80s that did not stop short of the stage, and also about the young faces whose older versions seem so much more familiar to us. And it is wonderful to see that the magic of Family Snapshot or Mercy Street had something new and pristine back then. Today we expect grandiose performances of this song – what must it have been like in 1987?

Live In Athens 1987The undisputed climax of the show is Lay Your Hands On Me. From today's point of view you wonder how crazy Peter Gabriel must have been to dare something like that. The fall into the audience would be an absolute nightmare for his security people. Apart from this highpoint the Blu-ray offers other world-class performances like Intruder, The Family And The Fishing Net or Here Comes The Flood. For years nobody believed this concert film would ever come out as a concert film instead of a kind of tour documentary like the P.O.V. video, but here it is, and as a single release to boot. So we get to enjoy a remarkably young and remarkably good band that is augmented by an almost youthful Youssou N'Dour. Biko, today an inevitability, used to be a huge political message then and justly ends the show. It is a peculiar thought that this very same band should revive this spirit more than 25 years later – but Peter Gabriel is still successful: The German shows of the Back To Front tour 2013 are sold out.

The bonus material contains Youssou N'Dour's performance – for the first time all of it – as well as a HD version of the Sledgehammer music video and a ten-minute interview with Peter Gabriel from that era: Great witnesses of an exciting period. Fans of world music will particularly enjoy Youssou N'Dour's set.

Audio and video

The special challenge those old recordings pose are how to use and treat them with today's technical possibilities while „today“ keeps changing and „back then“ keeps moving further away. Peter Gabriel has gone all out here. The whole concert film has been carefully produced afresh with some new cuts. The original tapes have much more to offer than could be seen in P.O.V. And there are, of course, the four tracks that were not in the video then. The video quality is amazing and offers a detailed view at the show. The colours are quite natural, though there are many „dark“ patches in the light show that sort of take away from the visual impression. One thing is certain, though – Live In Athens looks better than the sumptuous restauration of Secret World Live.
The sound quality has been improved, too, not least for the 5.1 mix. Though it is quite subtle, or at least more subtle than on Growing Up Live, it offers lots of details and still sounds pleasant and impressive at higher volumes. They have made a good job of it.

All in all

There are good reasons for criticizing the release politics. But there are hardly any reasons for criticizing the concert film itselt. For the first time we get Live In Athens in HD quality and brilliant sound in full length with exciting extras. There can be no doubt about the quality of this Blu-ray release. Whether there is a point in the PLAY: The Videos bonus is up to anyone. As far as the concert film is concerned this release belongs on every fan's shelf. It is a must have.


Both Blu-ray and DVD contain the concert film with these tracks:

01 This Is The Picture
02 San Jacinto
03 Shock The Monkey
04 Family Snapshot
05 Intruder
06 Games Without Frontiers
07 No Self Control
08 Mercy Street
09 The Family And The Fishing Net
10 Don't Give Up
11 Solsbury Hill
12 Lay Your Hands On Me
13 Sledgehammer
14 Here Comes The Flood
15 In Your Eyes
16 Biko
17 Quiet & Alone


Bonus naterial:

01 Sledgehammer music video (HD)
02 Youssou N'Dour & Le Super Etoile de Dakar (live)
03 Interview with Peter Gabriel and Paul Gambaccini (1986)

Audio & Video

Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio, LPCM Stereo (Blu-ray) / DTS, DD 5.1, DD Stereo (DVD)
Image format: 16:9

PLAY - The Videos

01 Father, Son
02 Sledgehammer
03 Blood of Eden
04 Games Without Frontiers
05 I Don't Remember
06 Big Time
07 Lovetown
08 Red Rain
09 In Your Eyes
10 Don't Give Up
11 The Barry Williams Show
12 Washing Of The Water (Jools Holland Version)
13 Biko
14 Kiss That Frog (Mindblender Mix)
15 Mercy Street
16 Growing Up
17 Shaking The Tree
18 Shock The Monkey
19 Steam
20 The Drop
21 Zaar
22 Solsbury Hill
23 Digging In The Dirt


Bonus features:

01 The Nest That Sailed The Sky
02 Modern Love
03 A Family Portrait (Trailer)
04 Growing Up Live (Trailer)
05 Secret World Live (Trailer)

by Christian Gerhardts, English by Martin Klinkhardt

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