Peter Gabriel - An examination of live material 1977 - 1987. By Mike Jackson.

With the recent close of Peter’s year long “So” tour it seems an opportune moment to review the set changes that have occurred over the last ten years of his solo touring career. This may be of particular interest to any readers who happen to only have recently discovered Peter’s musical repertoire following the success of his most recent album.


Peter’s first album appeared in February 1977 and a US tour followed in March. This was followed in turn by a handful of UK dates in April with amore extensive UK and European tour in September.

As might be expected all three tours drew heavily from the first album with all the tracks from it being played live. In the main the set was as follows: Moribund The Burgermeister/Solsbury Hill/Modern Love/Excuse Me/Humdrum/Slowburn/Waiting For The Big One/Down The Dolce Vita/Here Comes The Flood. Two tracks from the next album; On The Air and Indigo were previewed during these tours, the latter reappearing in various forms and under various titles including: Song Without Words and Mickey Mouse. In addition, White Shadow and Animal Magic appeared in some of the later sets during the subsequent European tour.

The US tour also featured versions of All Day And All Of The Night by The Kinks and Ain’t That Peculiar by Marvin Gaye. Most of the UK/European dates included Heard It Thru The Grapevine in place of the latter track however.

Throughout the tours the set was subject to constant changes in the running order but it generally opened with Here Comes The Flood (pt1) closing with Modern Love and Down The Dolce Vita. The final encore; Back In NYC was the only reference to Peter’s previous recording days with Genesis.

Collectors will find that these tours are more than covered by bootleg recordings, some of which are described in Geoff Parkyn’s Genesis Discography.


June 1978 saw the release of Peter’s second album, again confusingly titled Peter Gabriel. A short UK and European tour in August and September culminated in an appearance at the Battersea Park punk festival and at the Knebworth Park Festival. Following this an extensive tour of the US and Canada covered most of the remainder of the years with a few European shows in December. The final concerts took place at the Hammersmith Odeon and featured a number of guest stars.

For the new tour, all eleven tracks from the new album were aired and the set was to include some older material as well and a new track which was later to appear on the third album also got previewed during these gigs and this was I Don’t Remember, together with versions of what would become Family Snapshot. All Day And All Of The Night was retained for the first tour dates but subsequently replaced by an amazing version of Procul Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Once again the sets were not performed to any particular running order but all opened with Me & My Teddy Bear (in English, French or German as required) and closed with The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Generally On The Air and Moribund The Burgermeister opened the main set but the bulk of the performances were played in many different formats. Collectors are again well covered by recordings from these tours. Interesting items include a guest appearance by Chester Thompson at Long Beach California for The Lamb… Peter had appeared with Genesis for an encore during the same tour. Bully For You, the song co-written with Tom Robinson was also played at one of the Hammersmith Odeon shows as a change to the standard set.


Although no tour took place, Peter did appear at the Reading Festival providing an early foretaste of tracks from his next album. The set was as follows: Biko/On The Air/DIY/ Humdrum/No Self Control/White Shadow/Mother Of Violence/Animal Magic/I Don’t Remember/Modern Love/Moribund The Burgermeister/Perspective/Solsbury Hill/Here Comes The Flood/The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Phil Collins guested on drums for this occasion and of course, was largely involved in the subsequent recording of Peter’s third album. Phil had appeared once before with Peter, in September 1977 when he played during Back In NYC at the Fete De L’Humanite in Paris. Peter also played a set at the Glastonbury Festival during 1979 but otherwise the year was given over to recording and studio work.


The third album and to date, the most successful, was released in May 1980 but had already been played live since February when a short UK tour covered most of the principal venues. Again, an extensive US/Canadian tour followed and European dates concluding the outing in October.

Rather surprisingly after previous concerts, a more or less standard set was played throughout the year, including all bit one of the tracks from the new album: Intruder/ Start/I Don’t Remember/Solsbury Hill/Family Snapshot/Milgrams’ 37 (a non alum track)/Modern Love/Not One Of Us/Lead A Normal Life/Moribund The Burgermeister/ Mother Of Violence/White Shadow/Bully For You/Games Without Frontiers/And Through the Wire/I Go Swimming/Biko/On The Air/Here Comes The Flood.

Occasional set changes included the substitution of Humdrum for either White Shadow or Mother Of Violence and DIY as an additional encore or replacement for Here Comes The Flood. Peter also introduced German lyrics during the European dates for five of the new numbers: Infringing (Intruder), Schnapshuss (Family Snapshot), Du Bist Nicht Wie Wir (Not One Of Us), Ein Normales Leben (Lead A Normal Life) and Und Durch Den Draht (And Through The Wire). On occasions Here Comes The Flood was also performed in German as Jetzt Kommt Die Flut, a personal favourite.


Following a customary long break, Peter opened the WOMAD Festival with much of the material which was to appear on his fourth album. After the memorable Milton Keynes reunion concert, a new US/Canadian tour opened at Piscataway Rutgers University on 31st October 1982 continuing until the end of December. This tour began to break with much of the older material and generally the set comprised the following with some alterations in the running order: Rhythm of The Heat/I Have The Touch/Not One Of Us/The Family & The Fishing Net/Shock The Monkey/Family Snapshot/Intruder/I Go Swimming/Lay Your Hands On Me/Solsbury Hill/I Don’t Remember/San Jacinto/On The Air/Kiss Of Life/Biko.

Occasional additions to the set included Wallflower, and anew non-album track: John Has A Headache, while on several dates Across The River replaced Rhythm of The Heat as the opening number.

During a break in the tour schedule, Peter guested at a Steve Hackett charity show held in Guildford which also featured Mike Rutherford. From June 1983 the tour continued with various festivals in the USA and Europe followed by a full UK and European tour lasting until October. The set was similar to the 1982 one, retaining roughly the same running order throughout: Across the River/I Have The Touch/Not One Of Us/The Family & The Fishing Net/Shock The Monkey/Family Snapshot/Intruder/(Humdrum)/Games Without Frontiers/Lay Your Hands On Me/Solsbury Hill/I Don’t Remember/San Jacinto/(Rhythm of The Heat)/On The Air/Biko/(Kiss Of Life)/Here Comes The Flood.

( ) = Optional tracks.

Frequently, Games Without Frontiers was dropped in favour of I Go Swimming, Milgrams’ 37 or DIY and at several European gigs both Games Without Frontiers and Humdrum were omitted in favour of No Self Control and Wallflower. Again, several tracks were sung in German as on the 1980 tour and frequently Schock Den Affen and Jetzt Kommt Die Flut also replaced their English counterparts.


After a gap of more than two years, So opened to outstanding reviews in 1986. Peter did not tour in his own right initially, being heavily involved with the Amnesty International “Conspiracy Of Hope” tour. As part of this tour, a short set of Gabriel’s appeared often with a remarkable group of backing musicians. Although excellently reviewed, there were occasions when it seemed that the band frankly didn’t know what they were doing (or playing). Generally the set included the following but not necessarily in this order: Red Rain/Sledgehammer/San Jacinto/Shock The Monkey/Family Snapshot/Biko. Peter also joined the “Japan Aid” concerts in Tokyo in December 1986 with a similar set with the additional bonuses of In Your Eyes and Here Comes The Flood, and a much improved backing band!

However, in November 1986, the “So” tour itself commenced proving to be by far the best to date both in terms of the music and the effects. Initially the set consisted of the following tracks: Floating Dogs/San Jacinto/Shock The Monkey/Family Snapshot/(That Voice Again or I Have The Touch)/No Self Control/Mercy Street/Excellent Birds/The Family & The Fishing Net/Don’t Give Up/Big Time/Lay Your Hands On Me/ Sledgehammer/Here Comes The Flood/In Your Eyes/Biko.

Laurie Anderson appeared as a guest at the Madison Square Garden dates to perform her composition Excellent Birds. The tour continued well into 1987 and for these gigs the set was rearranged: Floating Dogs/Red Rain/Shock The Monkey/Family Snapshot/(The Family & The Fishing Net or Intruder)/Games Without Frontiers No Self Control/Mercy Street/Excellent Birds/Big Time/Don’t Give Up/Solsbury Hill/Lay Your Hands On Me/Sledgehammer/Here Comes The Flood/In Your Eyes/Biko.

Occasionally variations to the above were made and these included That Voice Again, Intruder and Wallflower as substitutes for Family Snapshot or The Family & The Fishing Net and , as usual, the occasional number was performed in German during the European tour. Kate Bush appeared as a special guest on Don’t Give Up at the last of Peter’s Earls Court shows in London.

Only time will tell when the next tour may take place but undoubtedly a number of old favourites will eventually disappear from his set from 1982 to date in the same way that much of the earlier material has been retired. Nevertheless, there is an extensive recording history to be enjoyed from Peter’s work to date and the forthcoming live video is eagerly awaited.