Peter Gabriel’s First Solo Concert, Post-Genesis: Hear the Complete Audio Recording (1977)

After retir­ing for per­son­al rea­sons from prog-rock giants Gen­e­sis, Peter Gabriel went on to record a total of four solo records enti­tled Peter Gabriel, dis­tin­guished from each oth­er by ref­er­ences to their cov­er art (“Car,” “Scratch,” “Melt”) and an alter­nate title insist­ed upon by his label (“Secu­ri­ty”). This inten­sive focus on the epony­mous per­haps bespeaks of ego, per­haps humil­i­ty. It also maybe sig­ni­fies the decep­tive­ly straight­for­ward pre­sen­ta­tion Gabriel would offer the world—shorn of the make­up and cos­tumes of his Gen­e­sis days, he might appear to have become anoth­er earnest, bal­ladeer­ing singer/songwriter. (See our post on clas­sic Gabriel-era Gen­e­sis from yes­ter­day.) Yet that first, 1977, solo out­ing was as imag­i­na­tive, baroque, and glee­ful­ly exper­i­men­tal as his pre­vi­ous work. His expan­sive musi­cal vocab­u­lary gave the first Peter Gabriel what Stere­ogum calls “a pur­pose­ful­ly eclec­tic, any­thing-flies approach to songcraft” that some­times worked, some­times didn’t.

Some of the uneven­ness of the first solo album is due to what Gabriel him­self felt was over­pro­duc­tion on the part of Bob Ezrin, par­tic­u­lar­ly on the song “Here Comes the Flood.” He would there­after per­form this song solo on piano—re-record­ing it thus in 1990. At the top of the post, you can hear him play it as the open­er for his first ever solo show at the Capi­tol The­atre in Pas­sa­ic, New Jer­sey.

The March 5, 1977 con­cert kicked off the tour for the first Peter Gabriel, for which he assem­bled an all-star band, some of whom had fea­tured on the album, includ­ing King Crim­son gui­tarist Robert Fripp (appear­ing under the name “Dusty Rhodes” and appar­ent­ly play­ing off­stage behind the cur­tain). After “Here Comes the Flood” is “On the Air,” and just above, hear the weird, wob­bly “Mori­bund the Burg­er­meis­ter” from that night. Below, in four parts, hear the remain­ing songs in the set (see the full setlist here). Over the audio in each Youtube clip, see mon­tages of still images—some pre­sum­ably from the tour, some of album and pro­mo art­work.

While Gabriel may have ditched the flam­boy­ant onstage per­son­ae, he nev­er aban­doned his visu­al flair, as we know from those ground­break­ing music videos. Wit­ness the artis­tic pedi­gree on dis­play in the cov­er art of Peter Gabriel (Car)—a pho­to­graph by Throb­bing Gris­tle mem­ber and artist Peter “Sleazy” Christo­pher­son of Gabriel slumped in a car owned by famed album cov­er design­er Storm Thorg­er­son.

But the new Peter Gabriel, the solo artist, had—as he put it in the first album’s big sin­gle “Sols­bury Hill”—“walked right out of the machin­ery” of Gen­e­sis’ exces­sive pre­sen­ta­tion. That song, still one of his most mem­o­rable, has been cov­ered by every­one from Lou Reed to Era­sure. Speak­ing to his strength as a song­writer, the tune with per­haps the broad­est appeal is also one of his most personal—purportedly about his deci­sion to leave Gen­e­sis. Hear it live in Part 5 below.

Though he may have left behind the band that made him famous, he still pays trib­ute to them in his first solo concert’s finale. At the close of the set, below, he ends with a Gen­e­sis song, “Back in N.Y.C.,” from the last, dou­ble con­cept album he record­ed with them. It doesn’t feel out of place at all, prov­ing per­haps that, even with­out the makeup—as All­mu­sic writesPeter Gabriel was “unde­ni­ably the work of the same man behind The Lamb Lies Down on Broad­way.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Gen­e­sis (from the Peter Gabriel-Era) Per­form in a Glo­ri­ous, 1973 Restored Con­cert Film

Peter Gabriel and Gen­e­sis Live on Bel­gian TV in 1972: The Full Show

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (9)
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  • John Cooper says:

    Thanks for these great links. Just want­ed to note that Gabriel first record­ed the solo piano ver­sion of “Here Comes the Flood” for Robert Frip­p’s 1979 album Expo­sure. It’s tru­ly excel­lent; I could nev­er lis­ten to the 1977 ver­sion again.

  • Josh Jones says:

    Oh, cool! Thanks for the cor­rec­tion. Yep, I def­i­nite­ly pre­fer that ver­sion to the orig­i­nal album record­ing. Beau­ti­ful song!

  • Marc says:

    I was at this show. Tele­vi­sion opened for Gabriel and the audi­ence booed them off the stage. John Sch­er, the con­cert pro­mot­er, came onstage and lec­tured the audi­ence.

  • Hawkeye Doublemint says:

    What a bunch of clue­less knobs. Tele­vi­sion were bril­liant, espe­cial­ly live.

  • patrice says:

    Great news

  • Nuno Tavares says:

    Hi, thanks for this oppor­tu­ni­ty to lis­ten to 1st PG con­cert. Just did it in 1980 in Lis­bon. Just to add this: I remem­ber very well to read in an inter­view of Peter at first times that the idea behind the names of the albums (just Peter Gabriel) was like a mag­a­zine. The name of the mag­a­zine in this case is Peter Gabriel. And then came out the num­ber 1, then, 2, then 3 etc. But the record com­pa­ny (Gef­fen??) in USA was wor­ried with lack of sales and “oblig­ed” Peter to accept the 4 album would be named Secu­ri­ty in USA. The car, scratch and melt are names that came much after­wards as an easy ( and I would say cre­ative) way to call them. Any­way they are all great. As Peter. Thanks.

  • Andrew Young says:

    I would’ve loved to have seen the Peter Gabriel front­ed Gen­e­sis. I did get to see one of Peter’s ear­ly solo con­certs while I was still at school. I was off ‘ill’ at the time and out with my dad in the car when it was announced on local radio that he was play­ing a warm up gig for his first con­certs as a solo artist. It was at a local char­i­ty place called the Ock­endon Ven­ture. My dad drove me there as I said I would love to go, it was sold out but I man­aged to get in as a fire war­den inside the mar­quee, all I had to do was sit there hold­ing a rope. He was excel­lent and gave me his tam­bourine after the show.

  • GEORGE DESHA says:

    I saw this tour in Fort Worth ‚TX, at the Cow Palace. I had been a huge Gen­e­sis fan, saw them in Austin 1973(?), with Gabriel. I was­n’t sure abt his solo work, and I’d nev­er heard Tele­vi­sion, just read a few things about them. The show was in a small base­ment the­ater since there was a big square danc­ing com­pe­ti­tion going on upstairs. Maybe 300 peo­ple (?), or less. Tele­vi­sion was incred­i­ble, a10 minute ver­sion of Knock­ing on Heav­en’s Door was an absolute shock­er. Gabriel did­n’t dis­ap­point. Tony Levin on bass, I think Bill Bru­ford on drums (?), not sure..of course Fripp play­ing off­stage behind a cur­tain. An unfor­get­table night.

  • Phil Aaberg says:

    Just chanced upon this while doing a search for The Col­lect­ed Works of Thomas Mann! Strange.
    Seems appro­pri­ate to post this short­ly after we lost Tom Ver­laine of Tele­vi­sion. I played key­boards on this record­ing and the rest of Peter’s first tour. The report that the crowd booed Tele­vi­sion made me sad. Most of this band didn’t know Television’s music, but we became fans and would gath­er off-cur­tain to lis­ten to them, even though their work was stun­ning­ly dif­fer­ent from what we did. I’ve become a fan of Verlaine’s solo work through my son, Dan­ny James.
    Thanks for post­ing this, Josh.
    Very cool to hear our young selves at the onset.
    A few years back, Steve Hunter gath­ered Tony Levin, Alvi­no Ben­nett, and me to record and film a live stu­dio album of Steve’s work. We did a beau­ti­ful ver­sion of Solis­bury Hill.

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