Town & Country Club, London, 19th March 1987
A Town Called Walker
"I Am daylight!"
Souvenir From A Dream
The Scientist Writes a Letter
Clear It Away
Cry Mercy Judge
Relying mostly on material from "Cover" and "Flash Light", Verlaine here offers some of his more off-the-wall (well, relatively speaking) songs. In the studio, songs like "Swim" and "Dissolve/Reveal" encouraged Verlaine to use his voice as part of the sound in its own right rather than its focus. Judging how well this works live is complicated here by the thick, murky, boomy sound of this recording but, in many ways, this is one of the more satisfying recorded Verlaine performances.
Here's Tom Verlaine, sense of irony intact (check the doomy taped howling-wind-and-bells intro), sounding confident, relaxed and, at times, almost playful.
It's as if the whole performance is not a set of individual songs so much as a series of linked thoughts, ideas. A musical stream-of-consciousness or a monologue. So "A Town Called Walker" segues into "Rotation", "Clear It Away" merges into "Kingdom Come" as if they were different parts of the same long song, different thoughts on the same subject. Even "Marquee Moon" is explored as it might have been if it had been written for "Cover", with the basic structure hardly even properly defined and, in parts, stripped back to a point where Verlaine can wander round it.
There seems to be a delight in the voice of the electric guitar. Verlaine's playing is atmospheric and beguiling all the way through, from the fluid, liquid lines in "Penetration" to the shards of angular noise thrown against the driving rhythm of "Clear It Away". In "Swim", he expands the spoken lyric from the album version over the roughly-sketched mood/atmosphere and in "Souvenir From A Dream" he's almost rapping the improvised lyric.
"Bomb" and "Dissolve/Reveal" are bases for guitar excursions which are as intriguing as they are unpredictable, the latter with some lovely guitar interplay/playoffs over busy and rolling drums. "Cry Mercy Judge" is a fantastic lurch through the song. "Scientist Writes A Letter" is really far too fragile a song to work in this context and, without the terrific guitar moan that divides it on the album, it ends up sounding lost and "unfinished" here.
This is a show well worth hearing, despite the dodgy sound quality. It comes from a period where Verlaine was flirting with other sound technology and techniques and his willingness to explore these other areas lends a new quality to his live work here.