a short site about The Divine Comedy

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Dublin Green Energy '97

Dublin Castle '97

Among the number of Divine Comedy live recordings I have gathered over the years, this little Dublin show has always had a special place in my heart... This is a live recording I’d recommend to anyone who wants to start listening to Divine Comedy live shows.
The show was part of the Heineken Green International Music Festival which happened on May 2nd 1997 at the Dublin Castle, the proper one, not the London venue! And the band got awarded for the performance, winning the next year a Hot Press Award for Best Live Show! Despite it is a festival set, the setlist do not features only the ‘hits’ (as it seems to be often the case nowadays), and it is the use of samples which make this show close to the spirit of the early Divine Comedy records while it actually has only 3 songs from the 2 first albums. The show begins with a sampled intro of ‘Bath’ on which the band joins to play live. It ends with the ‘Breathless’ sample at the end, even though ‘When The Lights...’ wasn’t played...

The recording is far to be excellent, to be honest it is rather poor, as it was an O’Connell Bridge bootleg tape thing... There was a circle of bootlegers in Dublin who taped quite a lot of shows, and sold tapes on the bridge... Those days are long gone by now, and a few tapes remained in some collectors’ hands...

The reason this recording has been quite special to me, is because it was one of the first live recordings from the 90’s that I found back in 2001, and due to the origin of the recording, I found the quality terrible. But over the years I gathered a few versions of the bootleg tapes, which lead me regularly to upgrade the quality of the recording, almost a new version every 5 years...

 

The first version I gathered was thanks to a couple of Irish fans who transferred one of those tape into mp3... One of them sent me the recording, of which the sound is almost unlistenable...

A few years later, through a mailing list a fan sent me some cassettes that one of the Irish fan from above bought for him at O’Connell Bridge.... I did myself a lossless transfer of the tape back then, in 2006, but I wasn’t well equipped at that time... The sound was more stable on that new version, but the tape being poor it lacked some trebles...

In 2010, I decided to properly digitize my whole tape collection using high-end equipment. Having just bought a 24 bits digital recorder, I bought a Nakamichi DR-1 tape deck, and used audio editing software with oscilloscope and spectrogram to monitor the recording... Unfortunately with that tape, I didn’t had as much improvement as usual, since the tape itself was poor. You can still note a minor switch of quality at 1:18 on the sample.

I also noted issues on the tape itself: the phase kept changing on ‘Bath’, which generates some weird noises...

Luckily, a few months after, I managed to find on eBay another original copy of that show on tape... On this cassette the sound was far far better, which led me to edit a new version of the recording again... On all versions, the tape cuts at the beginning of ‘Something For The Weekend’, and the rest of the song is to be found on the other side... Unfortunately all the tapes were not duplicated with a lot of attention, and some copies cut before others... And of course, the better the recording is, the longer is the cut! So I had to trick and paste a few seconds from the previous version:

Then, in 2014 I got my hands on another copy gathered by a trader back in the 90’s... The copy was not as good as the latest version I had so I didn’t bother about it after making a digital copy... Finally, in 2018 using more recent software, tools and algorithms, I decided to re-process the hiss reduction on my previous edit, and noticed the other version could make some minor improvement on the SFTW edit, as well as fix a few gaps...

This is the version you can hear and download bellow:

In conclusion, while tape processing seems to be an endless process, it is not necessarily... When we get the chance to find a copy of a master recording, except if it is damaged, there would probably be no reason to reprocess it again if we do it well... While I’m quite satisfied of my latest edit of that show, I’d of course be happy to work again on a new version if I happen to find a better or a master copy of the recording... But of course, I’d find more exiting if I could gather new material from that era.... For example, audience tapes of the Flux Festival ’97 with Michael Nyman do exist, and have never been properly digitized yet... So don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any old tapes in your collection.