"Refugees from the archive" - A look at some of the recent DVD bootlegs. Keeper of the archive: Alan Hewitt.

Being a fan of any band is an expensive and time consuming passion more than a mere hobby. Having been in this collecting "lark" for the better part of twenty five or so years now, it still has the power to surprise me sometimes.

I began in the days of audio and VHS cassettes - remember them, folks?! Ah yes, the days of scouring the local record fairs for the latest batch of illicit contraband occupied many a Saturday and much of my spare cash! Fans coming into the collecting arena now are so much more fortunate having so many trading groups where these goodies can usually be acquired for minimal outlay. When you have a collection as extensive as some of the Genesis fans I have the pleasure of knowing and my own collection isn't anything to be sneezed at either, it becomes difficult to have to change horses in mid stream, so to speak. Having made the "leap" from cassette to CD in the mid 1980's I was somewhat reluctant to have to do it all again with the advent of DVD! However, having learned my lesson with CD; I wisely opted to wait until the available technology not only settled down in terms of which gadgets would be on this months' "model" but also waited until the price of that technology came down to something more sensible than astronomical!

In the meantime, other equally crazy fans marched ahead of me; investing their time and efforts in this new technology and the end results have been documented in several of the more recent editions of TWR. FAde, The Digital Bros; Epping Forest; GMDVD and many other individuals have started the arduous task of digitising the band's enormous official and unofficial archive of TV and private film recordings, often preserving otherwise neglected material for posterity! The increasing use of digital film cameras to record gigs, has already led to an increase in availability of DVD bootlegs from some of the band's most recent solo tours. In addition to that, several interesting archival items have also begun to surface and it is this mix of old and new which forms the basis of this feature.

Mike + The Mechanics : Mainz Rheingoldhalle 10.3.89

Thanks to the sterling work of the EFDVD group, most of Mike & The Mechanics' TV performances have already been digitised. In addition to this, however, there are a handful of live films from the band's gigs and one of these from the band's highly successful Living Years tour has surfaced on DVD. An audience recording, transferred from VHS cassette, this recording does not boast the audio or visual quality of a TV or radio broadcast, but as one of those perverse individuals who actually prefers audience recordings to soundboards etc, that didn't bother me!

Recorded at the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz Germany at the start of the 1989 tour, this DVD manages to give a great glimpse at what these shows were actually like. The band were in great form, enjoying their first tour in the UK and Europe and they were hot to trot at this gig. Everyone can be seen to be enjoying themselves and audience reaction is as enthusiastic as the performance itself which is exactly as it should be!

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Track Listing: Nobody's Perfect/Seeing is Believing/Silent Running/Don't/Nobody Knows/Hanging By A Thread/Why Me?/Taken In/Beautiful Day/Black And Blue/ Par Avion/A Call To Arms/The Living Years/I Get The Feeling/Take The Reins/All I Need Is A Miracle/Poor Boy Down. Source: Audience hand held camera 1 DVD. Quality: Fair/Good.

Peter Gabriel: "Then And Now" Grugahalle Essen 15.9.78 and Marienplatz Munich 31.8.02

A good example of a "mixed bag" is the next item to feature which is titled "Then And Now" which features a great combination of archival and recent footage. Peter Gabriel's forays in to the world of concert video have been relatively few and far between until recently and it is therefore great to have an excellent quality recording of Peter's show from the famous "Rockpalast" German TV series. Recorded in the middle of Peter's second solo tour in 1978, this is one of the few visual documents of those early shows and as such makes a vital addition to any collection.

Accompanying it is an edited version of one of Peter's warm-up gigs for the 2002 Growing Up tour from Munich. The contrast in the two performances is enormous and shows how much Peter's shows have changed whilst retaining the essential drama and humour which has always been his trademark.

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Track Listing (Essen): On the Air/Moribund The Burgermeister/Perspective/Here Comes The Flood/White Shadow/Waiting For The Big One/Humdrum/I Don't Remember/Solsbury Hill/Modern Love/The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Track Listing (Munich): Darkness/Red Rain/Growing Up/Solsbury Hill/Mercy Street/The Barry Williams Show/More Than This/Digging In The Dirt.

Source: TV/Audience hand held camera. 1 DVD. Quality: Excellent/Fair.

Phil Collins: Belgrade Arena Belgrade Serbia 28.10.05

Phil's most recent tour; the "First Final Farewell Tour" has also been captured for posterity not only in the shape of the marvellous official DVD release which has already been reviewed here in TWR, but also with several privately filmed shows too, of which the most recent to appear is the show from the Belgrade Arena in Belgrade Serbia on 28th October 2005. I was lucky to catch Phil's show in Manchester back in 2004 and was interested to see how the show had changed on this the second leg. Visually, the show is pretty much as it had been in 2004 but with the slight changes in the set list to incorporate a "jazzed up" version of Invisible Touch and We Wait And We Winder from the underrated Both Sides album, this makes an interesting addition. Filmed predominantly from the video screens, picture quality is excellent and matched by a well balanced sound this is a nice one to have.

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Track Listing: Drums, Drums & More Drums/Something Happened On The Way To Heaven/Against All Odds/Don't Lose my Number/You'll Be In My Heart/One More Night/Can't Stop Loving You/Hang In Long Enough/True Colours/Come With Me/A Groovy Kind Of Love/Another Day In Paradise/We Wait And We Wonder/Separate Lives/In The Air Tonght/Dance Into The Light/You Can't Hurry Love/Two Hearts/Wear My Hat/Invisible Touch/Easy Lover/Sussudio/It's Not Too Late/Drum Trio-Take Me Home. Source: Audience hand held camera 2 DVDs. Quality: Good.


A trio of Peter Gabriel recordings rounds off this feature. The 2002 - 04 tours by Peter were certainly his most visually adventurous and have been documented by the two official concert DVD releases including the latest which you can win a copy of elsewhere in this edition of TWR! However, Peter has this irritating habit of "editing" and overdubbing his visual appearances to the point of begging the question why release a "Live" DVD at all?

Fortunately, the trio of recordings here all from his 2002 US/Canadian tour, manage to convey something of the spirit of the gigs themselves which is difficult in the cavernous and somewhat characterless arenas which were the staple venues of these tours. First up is the gig from the United Center in Chicago followed a week later by the show at the Madison Square Garden in New York both of which feature the same live set. The camerawork on both of these is very well done, and having filmed gigs myself on occasions (with permission of the artists involved, folks!) I can vouch for how physically demanding it can be.

The third in this trio comes from Peter's gig at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto which featured a different set list. Once again, vision and sound on this one are very enjoyable and all three capture the excitement which Peter's shows always generate - good stuff!

Peter Gabriel: United Center Chicago 14.11.02

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Track Listing: Here Comes The Flood/Darkness/Red Rain/Secret World/Sky Blue/ Downside Up/The Barry Williams Show/More Than This/Mercy Street/Digging In The Dirt/Growing Up/Animal Nation/Solsbury Hill/Sledgehammer/Signal To Noise/In Your Eyes/Family Snapshot/Father Son. Source: Audience hand held camera 1 DVD. Quality: Very Good.

Peter Gabriel: Madison Square Garden New York 21.11.02

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Track Listing: as above. Source: As above 2 DVDs. Quality: Very Good.

Peter Gabriel: Air Canada Centre Toronto 2.12.02

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Track Listing: Here Comes The Flood/Darkness/Red Rain/Secret World/Sky Blue/ Downside Up/The Barry Williams Show/More Than This/Shock The Monkey/ Mercy Street/Digging In The Dirt/Growing Up/Animal Nation/Solsbury Hill/ Sledgehammer/Signal To Noise/In Your Eyes/Come Talk To Me/Father Son.

Source: Audience hand held camera. 2 DVDs. Quality: Very Good.

There you have it for this issue, folks. I am sure that by the time the next edition of TWR appears, there will have been even more escapees from the archives. Who knows, maybe some of them may come from the TWR archive itself, we shall see.