"From Kew Bridge to a Zorb ball" - Peter Gabriel's tour programmes examined by Alan Hewitt.
Intriguing title, eh? Well, worry not, dear reader; all will be revealed as we look at the thirty years of solo tour programmes by Mr Gabriel.
Difficult to believe that after bravely stepping out of the Genesis 'machinery' in 1975, Peter was soon back in the fray with his first self-titled album and a series of superb gigs in the US, Europe and here in the UK too, for which a tour programme was produced which set the standard for most of those which were to follow it. Featuring a grey cover with an image of pedestrians crossing Kew Bridge (hence the title of this feature), this booklet contained the usual eclectic mix of information about band members, tour dates, etc, along with some more unusual items including a dental chart and medical report on Mr Gabriel. Containing 16 pages with a central fold out poster, this programme appears to have only been issued for the Autumn 1977 European tour and is one of the more highly sought after programmes from Peter's tours.
With no proper tour programme for the 1978 tour apart from the Knebworth festival programme in which Gabriel appeared as one of the support acts to Frank Zappa and The Tubes; collectors had to wait until 1980 for another item for their collectios.
Taking his cue from the current fascination with bands playing gigs in out of ordinary places; the 1980 tour programme for the UK tour bore the same title as the tour itself:- Peter Gabriel Tour Of China 1984. The programme itself mimicked the 'Little Red Book' of sayings by Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung, and apart from the usual mix of information on band members, tour dates, etc, the rest of the programme was a combination of newspaper adverts from Chinses papers and album lyrics which interestingly enough include 'Bully For You'; a track recorded for the album but not released on it. This is another programme which has become increasingly hard to find, like its predecessors.
Another two years were to elapse before Peter was on the road again in 1982 in support of his fourth solo album. Preceeding the tour were the now legendary inaugral WOMAD concerts at Shepton Mallet for which a celebratory brochure was produced containing information on the artists and the ideals behind the festival itself.
There was also a special brochure produced for Peter's gig at Selhurst Park on 9th July 1983 which was a fundraiser for the Lincoln Trust, an anti-Apartheid charity which had been established in the wake of the death of Stephen Biko by Donald Woods, Biko's biographer and fellow anti-Apartheid campaigner. Both this and its predecessor are very hard to find nowadays.
This was followed by the 'Playbook', the UK only tour programme for Peter's 1983 shows. Once again, this included a mix of the usual and unusual which was by now becoming a trademark of a Peter Gabriel show, let alone tour programme! At least in this case, there was a fair amount of information about the artist himself in this one, including a useful discography! this is another programme which is increasingly difficult to find these days.
Peter's participation in the 1986 Conspiracy Of Hope tour in the USA seems to have gone without the benefit of a brochure but, of course, he was soon to set out on the road for the massive 'So' tour which lasted from September 1986 to October 1987. It is here that Peter's fascination with the avant garde really starts to take over. I am unaware of any other programmes from the tour other than the one which was available at the European/UK gigs in the summer of 1987, although this may merely be a fact that the programme's tour dates were altered for each leg. Interestingly, the European programme in my collection deatures US and European dates which only run from June to the end of July. The tour itself culminated with the five nights at Lykabettus Hill theatre in Athens which became the basis for the 'PoV' video. Maybe a separate brochure was issued for those gigs too? Either way, this programme is a disappointment in terms of information about Peter althoughthe extracts from the Anne Sexton interview make interesting reading. With so many gigs on this tour, this is still a relatively easy programme to find.
Peter's dedication to the cause of Human Rights reached its apogee with his involvement in the 1988 'Human Rights Now!' tour which took place in the summer of 1988. Alongside Peter were many other alumni of the worlds of Rock and World Music including Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N'Dour. An excellent brochure was produced to commemorate the tour, crammed with information on the artists and the Amnesty International movement as well as full reproduction of the clauses of the declaration of Human Rights itself, making this both a collectable and useful brochire and one which is still relatively easy to find.
Peter's fans were in for a lenghty wait before the next album proper. 1992 eventually saw the release of the 'Us' album and an extensive tour followed whcih was to occupy Peter for the better part of two years. For thsi, yet another brochure was produced. Peter certainly liked to keep the 'secrets' of the Secret World Tour because, as brochures go, this is without doubt the least informative one in my collection! There is very little in this one which can be reasonably said to have anything to do with the tour or the album it is promoting which is even more frustrating given the magnificance of the shows themselves.
Preceding this however, is something of a rarity. 1993 was the International Year For The World's Indigenous Peoples, and to commemorate this, a special event took place at the Botanic Park in Adelaide, Australia. Titled 'Womadelaide' this was, as its title implies, an event held under the auspices of the now well established WOMAD organisation. the result was an excellent brochure which featured well written and informative text on all of the artists appearing, as well as on the festival itself. This is probably one of the rarest Gabriel programmes since the 1978 Knebworth programme.
Extra mural activities precluded Peter from touring throught the remainder of the 1990's apart from appearances at various WOMAD events or other cultural performances, one of which was the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. A special concert was organised at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy in Paris on 10th December 1998. For this event, another souvenir programme was produced too. Including a bi-lingual text (French/English) on all of the artists appearing at the event and information on Amnesty International, this is another rare programme due, no doubt, to the one-off nature of the event.
After keeping his fans waiting for almost 10 years for a new album and tour, Peter went back on the road for a US tour in the autumn of 2002 in support of the new album, Up. No programme was produced for these gigs as far as I am aware, although the extension of the tour to cover the UK and Europe in 2003 and 2004 brought us to new commemorative brochures.
For each of these, Peter finally seems to have learned the lesson of providing his fans with information about Peter Gabriel! Both of these large format booklets are packed with information about Peter, the band, and the tour, as well as some of the more altruistic without which it wouldn't be a Peter Gabriel programme, really!
What is also pleasing is that instead of merely re-packaging the '03 programme with a different cover, the '04 brochure contains a significant amount of new material although by necessity, some duplication is evident. With such an extensive tour, both of these brochures are relatively easy to find and represent excellent value to the collector.
No programme was produced for the recent round of shows that Peter staged in Europe this summer. However, with the rumoured follow-up album to Up now being apparently imminent, perhaps we should still 'expect the unexpected' from mr Gabriel in the near future.
Next time I shall be examining the tour programmes from Steve Hackett. In the meantime, my thanks to Ted Sayers, Mic Smith and Mary Lane for their help with this feature.