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Stage Diving

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Album Review

Following six non-charting studio albums on two major labels, Peter Himmelman made this solo live album on which he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and piano, occasionally enlisting the support of the drummer from his opening act. Recorded at the Bottom Line in New York City on December 6, 1995, the performance was intimate and largely unplanned, though most of the songs came from Himmelman's recent Epic Records albums. They took on greater force as he finger-picked to underline his gruff voice, but if Himmelman was more appealing in this underproduced context, he was also more clearly derivative, evoking Bob Dylan, John Hiatt, Elvis Costello, and any number of other singer/songwriters in sound. Still, he displayed an off-hand, dry sense of humor that connected with the audience. "It's not even funny, but it is ironic," he said, introducing a song about breaking up with his girlfriend, and you could say that about much of the show. And his remarks often illuminated his sometimes obscure lyrics. (For example, one learned that "Woman with the Strength of 10,000 Men," one of his better songs, was about a victim of Lou Gehrig's disease.) Himmelman's basic lyric sensibility is a common one — he hopes for love to stand up against the desperation of life — but he expresses it compellingly in his music, even if he usually seems to be ploughing fields that are already well-tilled.


Born: 23 November 1959 in Minneapolis, MN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Minnesota native Peter Himmelman was the leader of a pop/rock quintet called Sussman Lawrence that made two independent albums in the early '80s and earned him comparisons to such new wave singer/songwriters as Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. The group became Himmelman's backup band for the release of his debut album, This Father's Day (1986), which earned him a contract with Island Records. He followed with Gematria (1987), Synesthesia (1989), and From Strength to Strength (1991). By the last release,...
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Stage Diving, Peter Himmelman
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