Peter had not played in Italy since the last show with Genesis, on March 24th 1975, the one and only Lamb Italian performance, in Torino.
Expectations were huge and more than a fan showed up at either of the three shows wearing self-made batwings, leather jacket and Rael make-up, and even a couple of shaved heads...
The day before the first show Peter appeared on Italian Tv performing a playback version of Games Without Frontiers at the "Gondola d'Oro", an Italian Saturday Night music show only remarkable for Peter's appearance (well also Kate Bush and Cheap Trick were there that year) and nothing else...
With the whole band dressed in black overalls as on stage, he used the same special "deforming" screen he used live: but IMHO the tv shoot gave it an even more eerie atmosphere mostly lost in bigger arenas...
Unfortunately, I still have to see a copy of this on video anywhere: even an extensive search in the National Tv archives by those in the know has, until now, proved fruitless...
But, as most of this site, it will take time (and the money to get my own scanner...)
This was the original lp boot that came out a couple of months after the show. Quite poor quality and incomplete (more details here).
A later reissue, with exactly the same problems, and this time the cover was actually black & white rather than orange (more details here).
The final release of the very same tape, though a wee bit restored, and on cd, doesn't add much to a really brilliant show to which none of the bootlegged output really does any justice... (and here's details of the cd).
This was only my second PG show ever, and I'd arrived in Florence the night before (spending the night with my sleeping bag behind a hidden wall of the Santa Maria Novella station). The wait began at about 10/11 o'clock in the morning under quite a hot sun. The gig was to take place in a field called Prato delle Cornacchie within the Parco delle Cascine - which I later learned was the most famous area for prostitution in town...!
Unfortunately, with a backpack and a couple bags of with water, sandwiches (not to mention a very large Marantz portable tape recorder with two separate microphones), somebody pushed me or I stumbled on a rock or something, and by the time I had stepped up again and made my run the first dozen rows were all taken... I kept telling me that the place I got was ok for taping and I knew I had two more days to come, but still something was biting my leg all the time.
Support act were the very young Simple Minds, which at the time - they had their third album out "Empires and dance" - were in really excellent shape. Unfortunately almost nobody knew who they were, and even less people had been informed of a support act at all: the result were boohoos and whistles and bottles thrown towards the stage that still make me blush with shame remembering it. I was one of the uninitiated, but Jim Kerr's magnetism and the hypnotic rhythm and cadence of "Capital City" cast a spell and I was "in love" for at least a decade afterwards...
Though it was only my second Gabriel show, I had by then started reading UK music magazines such as Melody Maker or NME every week, and corresponding with people all over the world: thus I already knew (or thought I knew) what was going to come. Of course, though, the feeling must have been quite different from the journey of discovery during the Uk February tour that same year!
Peter tried to begin walking from the audience as in the British theaters, but since the crowd was packed too tight and swaying madly, after about ten minutes (possibly one of the longest Intruder loops ever - together with Torino - but see below for a different story) he and the musicians gave up and simply walked on stage from the sides... I won't go into a song by song detailed review here (got an other 120 or so articles to write!) but after almost twenty years I still remember clearly three exceptionally impressive moments of that show.
First of all the crowd wouldn't hold still for the first 30-40 minutes or so, and since those at the front would not sit down those at the back kept throwing bottles, cans, bags and even sandwiches or whatever in front of them: on my tape, during Milgram's 37, one can actually hear a very clear "sdeng!" of a coke can hitting my head... I didn't utter a word fearing I'd spoil the tape, but it was useless 'cos of all the commotion from those around me searching for water and bandages to medicate me (there was no need to, luckily).
More to the point, musically, an absolutely amazing moment was the extended and improvised finale to Lead A Normal Life: the crowd just started clapping rhythmically (God knows why you should clap during a very quiet and fading piano riff, but there you have it: Italian audiences!!!). Peter and the rest of the band took up this rhythm and began jamming for a minute or two, while Jerry Marotta kept Moribund's beat and they all went into that song.
Finally, a really brilliant version of I go Swimming: maybe because at the time it was an almost completely unheard of song, but that early arrangement and the shouted out loud "gabrielese" was so full of energy that it remains to this day one of my favorite executions ever (1982/3 versions were much too lame and subdued in comparison), together with the one from two days later you'll find somewhere below...
This is, at the moment, the same gallery linked above...
I know there is also a sort of "homemade" cd in 200 copies (but who says such a number is real?) with color photocopies as a cover. That's not my definition of a bootleg anyway, as nowadays practically everything home-burned could be considered the ultimate 1 copy limited edition rarity...
About Genova I still have mixed feelings. The show itself was brilliant, and I did manage the front row right in the center of the stage (just on the left of the few steps that were used by Peter and the band to get on stage during Intruder). The problem was the guy on my left, far more than just the average "pushy" neighbor at a gig: if you don't want personal details and bad language please skip the next paragraph...
During the encores the aforementioned worm decided to leave the show to mine and everybody else's in the area benefit and pleasure. Or so we thought. In fact, on his way out, he decided to collect all the front row guys' belongings: in other words he stole my jacket (including watch, money and wallet, the tape of the encores from the night before still in my jacket pockets, etc..). Even worse, they got my (borrowed!) tape recorder (with that night's show cassette - I was left holding the two microphones and only realized what had happened at end of the show!)... Well, that would not happen again today (even though two years later I got another tape recorder stolen, in a different way, at a Genesis gig...!), but that bastard, ass, re-bastard, son of a turd - he knows whom he is - will have my eternal hate. I wish him to be damned and burn not in hell's fire but in a very real and nasty car accident...
I told you, I told you, I told you - you should have skipped that.
Ok: back to the gig.
As I said, apart from the personal episode, the show was my favorite of the three: anguish and fun, experimenting and rocking, classics and new songs formed a mixture almost unbeatable to this day in the choice of the Setlist. This, of course, would be true for most of the 1980 tour, but what was special in Genoa was the feeling that was built between the stage and the audience: it's hard to explain, especially writing 20 years later and for somebody whose chances of having attended such an event are about 1 in a million...
There were no "remarkable" song performances of their own, yet the fluidity of the whole and the real moving of one's heart from one song to the next were unbelievable.
If I had to pick one song only then it would have to be Mother Of Violence. It certainly helped to make it shine out that I was actually standing right in front of Peter while he was singing - I'm talking 40 to 50 centimeters here! even though I refrained from clutching his knees all of the time like the girl on the other side of "the bastard"... Actually being able to see any performer's eyes at a rock concert is an experience not to be missed.
Once again, I have such fond memories of the show and such a hang up on what happened after that even though I managed to track a tape a few months later, it still rests unused in its box to this day.
This is, at the moment, the same gallery linked above...
Last day of three, and besides the mess of the night before (for me, that is, it was spent with no sleep at all between the station and the police offices), the general mood was higher than ever: a funny episode happened while waiting for the show to begin which raised the spirits even more when some of the roadies pulled a trick on the audience by deciding to play a tape (no cds yet at the time...) of I Know What I Like... The Palasport almost exploded - like they were ready to witness or expect a miracle to happen any moment - but then reason prevailed and the roar soon changed into a giant chorus...
As in the two nights before, Peter introduced every song in Italian, reading from some "phonetically" prepared sheets. It marked the start of a long series of "corrections" that the audience usually shouted out loud and Peter dutifully acknowledged.
The gig itself was not the best of the three, as fatigue was by then quite evident on Peter's face, as this was one of the final dates of the world tour that had taken up much of the year for him. Nonetheless he didn't spare a drop of sweat, and the raw energy of the performance was once again staggering.
The best of it all came near the end: first, during Biko, a bunch of hotheads got sort of carried away and when Peter turned the microphone to the audience with the usual formula - «the rest is up to you» - they actually got hold of the microphone to start singing into it! The sound engineer quickly turned the mike off, but not before a couple of "oh-oh-oooohs" could be heard by everybody else...
And lastly, after DIY and On The Air the lights came up, and the usual outgoing music started to play. The band had already skipped And Through The Wire from the set, and evidently they thought they would just end it there.
But we did not want to hear about it: everybody went on clapping and shouting for more nonetheless, so that Peter was in a sense "forced" to come back on stage. When he did, with all the lights still on, he gave us an amazing version of Here Comes The Flood, and the image of him with wet eyes at his piano is still one of the strongest I bear in my memory.