Peter Gabriel's third solo effort remains his most exciting album; yet, like most of Gabriel's studio output, that exciting, brilliant sound rarely comes across in his live concert recordings. His 1980 performance at the Chromedome in Cardiff, Wales is one of several live recordings (throughout his career) that fails to do justice to his studio sound.
On the Cardiff, Wales 1980 bootleg release, Gabriel churns out lackluster renditions from Gabriel 3 (aka Melt) and one from his solo debut. Two of his well-known and much-loved compositions, "Games Without Frontiers" and "Solsbury Hill," fall short due to the absence of personnel so integral to the sound of those particular songs -- Kate Bush (vocals) on "Games Without Frontiers" and Robert Fripp (guitar) on "Solsbury Hill." Elsewhere, "Family Snapshot" gets off to a slow start as on-stage technical problems and recurring fireworks disrupt the proceedings several times.
Gabriel explains early on in the show that the entire band is suffering from the flu, so maybe that can be blamed for the dull performances. Still, the show ends on a high note with the concert fave "I Go Swimming," which is easily the standout song on Cardiff. While not included on any of Gabriel's studio releases, a different rendition is available on Plays Live, a two-disc recording from his 1982 tour.
Essentially, all of the cuts on Cardiff, Wales are similar but inferior to their studio counterparts, and the sound quality is a bit flat. A far superior Gabriel bootleg is the Live USA recording from April 9, 1977.