My first Peter Gabriel concert…25 years ago today

Although I first saw Peter Gabriel live at the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope show at Giants Stadium in June 1986, it wasn’t until July 21, 1987, at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia that I got to enjoy the full PG concert experience.

And it was amazing. And in the 25 years since that show, I have seen Peter Gabriel in concert seven times* and each show blows me away.

* One of the seven shows was Peter Gabriel backed by his New Blood Orchestra in June 2011.

Peter Gabriel will be returning to the United States later this year for a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of the tour supporting his classic 1986 album, So. And it was 25 years ago today, that my sister and I sat in row 16 on the floor in the Spectrum and took in the spectacle that is Peter Gabriel—backed by Tony Levin on bass, David Rhodes on guitars, founding E Street band member David Sancious on keyboards and Manu Katché on drums/percussion—in concert.

At this point, I need to correct something I have misstated over the years on my various blogs. There is a lot of video on YouTube of a Peter Gabriel show at the Spectrum in July 1987 that I always thought was from the concert I was at. Well, I messed that up. The YouTube video is from the July 20, 1987, show in Philly…my sister and I went to the show the following night, July 21.

However, I recently discovered that a bootleg of the July 21, 1987, show I was at has been floating around for years, and I just happened to come into possession of it within the past few weeks. This means I can relive the experience of that show whenever I want to, which is kind of cool.

In any case, I will get to relive the experience when I see Peter Gabriel—with the same backing band—perform So in its entirety along with other PG classics at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly on September 21. With family commitments ever increasing, it will likely be my last opportunity to see Peter Gabriel in concert so I splurged for fourth-row tickets…can’t wait.

So…here are some videos from PG’s July 20, 1987, show at the Spectrum in Philly—the night before I attended my first Peter Gabriel concert.

Peter Gabriel – This Is The Picture (Spectrum – July 20, 1987)
Trivia: Manu Katché is using a guitar-shaped MIDI controller then called the Dynacord Rhythm Stick to trigger sounds from a drum machine…it was later renamed The JAMMA.

Peter Gabriel – Red Rain (Spectrum – July 20, 1987)

Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers (Spectrum – July 20, 1987)
Always loved this arrangement.

Peter Gabriel – No Self Control (Spectrum – July 20, 1987)
This basically kicks ass.

Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill (Spectrum – July 20, 1987)
A highlight of any Peter Gabriel show…such a great song.

Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer (Spectrum – July 20, 1987)
Even though this isn’t among my top 10 favorite Peter Gabriel songs…it always kicks ass live.

Peter Gabriel – Lay Your Hands on Me
This isn’t from the 7/20/87 show at the Spectrum. It is from the POV concert video, but back in his younger days, PG would do some crowdsurfing whenever he performed this song…the laying on of hands at the 5:44 mark of the clip. He did this at our show and it was awesome, so I had to include it here.

24 years of Peter Gabriel fandom: “Solsbury Hill” (2003)

Well, so far on this journey through my 24 years of Peter Gabriel fandom, I haven’t posted anything really all that mainstream…no “Shock the Monkey”, “Sledgehammer”, “Steam” or “In Your Eyes”.  It’s not that I’m not a fan of those songs…in fact, the live version of “Sledgehammer” is always awesome. But I have wanted to explore some of the deeper tracks from the PG catalog this week. However, after much internal debate about what video from 2003’s “Growing Up Live” tour (during which I saw PG three times…one night at the Meadowlands, the next night in Philly and then the following year at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ), I decided to go with something a little more well known…”Solsbury Hill.”

Thanks to its use in films like “Vanilla Sky” and others, “Solsbury Hill” — a track from Peter Gabriel’s first self-titled solo album in 1977 — has eventually become somewhat popular. What many people may not realize is that the song is about Gabriel’s departure as lead singer of Genesis in 1975.

And really…how could I not include a PG performance that has him riding a bike on stage…

Peter Gabriel – “Solsbury Hill” (Growing Up Live, 2003)

24 years of Peter Gabriel fandom: “Come Talk to Me” (1994)

Here is part 3 of this week’s 5-part series of Peter Gabriel videos marking my 24th year as a PG fan. One of the great concert events of the 1990s was Peter Gabriel’s “Secret World Live” tour (1993-94) in support of his CD, “Us.” Today’s video is the set-opening “Come Talk to Me” from that tour, featuring a then-unknown Paula Cole, who was still about two years away from success with her album “This Fire” (with “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and “I Don’t Want to Wait”). PG gave Cole her big break when he hired her to fill the female vocalist spot for this tour.

Peter Gabriel – “Come Talk to Me” (Secret World Live, 1994)

24 years of Peter Gabriel fandom: “No Self Control” (7/20/87)

Well, today officially marks my 24th anniversary as a Peter Gabriel fan and I have decided that my PG video posts this week shall be a chronological journey of my fandom. Yesterday’s video was of PG’s performance of “Biko” the first time I ever saw him live, at the Amnesty International concert at Giants Stadium on June 15, 1986. Today’s video is from the first actual Peter Gabriel concert I ever attended — July 20, 1987, at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The video quality isn’t all that great, but the mere fact that this footage exists — and on YouTube (thanks to YouTube user Magog64) — is amazing. Here is one of my all-time favorite PG songs, “No Self Control”…and if you ever have time to kill, you should check out all the videos from this show…just incredible stuff.

Peter Gabriel – “No Self Control” (Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA, 7/20/87)

24 years of Peter Gabriel fandom

So I was driving home from a meeting the other day, listening to XM Radio when Peter Gabriel’s “Biko” came on. I hadn’t really listened to the song in quite some time, but I thought it was an appropriate lesson in recent South African history with the World Cup currently being staged there.

While listening, it reminded me of my greatest, personal musical memory. Back on June 15, 1986, my sister and I were in the sold-out crowd at Giants Stadium for the final show of the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour. It was an amazing day and night of music that allowed me the opportunity to see the genius that was Miles Davis perform live. Last night, while watching the Tony Awards and hearing so much about the musical “Fela,” it reminded me that I also saw the late, great Fela Kuti perform that day.

Anyway, back to “Biko” and Peter Gabriel. It was the powerful, chilling performance of “Biko” during that show that turned me into a huge Peter Gabriel fan. It also made me truly understand the power of a great song and a great artist.

So, in honor of my 24 years as a Peter Gabriel fan, I will be posting one PG video per day on the ol’ blog here this week. I’ll start it off tonight with the video of his performance of “Biko” at the Amnesty show on June 15, 1986, and continue adding one each day through this coming Friday.

Enjoy!

Peter Gabriel – “Biko” (Amnesty Int’l Conspiracy of Hope, Giants Stadium, 6/15/86)

What the heck…here’s one more PG video (“Secret World” – Live 1993)

Peter Gabriel – “Secret World” (Live 1993)

Sorry…I need to post one more Peter Gabriel video. This one is a performance of “Secret World” from the “Secret World Live” tour that supported the “Us” album. I love this song (if you go to my MySpace Music site and listen to “The Greatest Love,” you may hear the influence) and experiencing it in concert is always a thrill for me. I don’t know…maybe it’s the combination of a great song, strobe lights and twirling.

Peter Gabriel: “Lay Your Hands on Me” (Live 1988)

Peter Gabriel: “Lay Your Hands on Me” (Live 1988)

I have been listening to Peter Gabriel a lot lately because the first single, “Whole Thing,” from his long-awaited Big Blue Ball project (it’s a multi-artist effort…NOT a new PG album) was recently released as a single on iTunes. Anyway, I was wandering around YouTube and spent a good hour or so watching some Peter Gabriel videos…and this performance of “Lay Your Hands on Me” from the late 80s tour supporting “So” is one of my favorite all-time concert experiences (I wasn’t at this particular show, but it went down basically the same way when my sister and I saw him from row 16 of the floor at The Spectrum in Philly).

For the uninitiated, this song may be tough to get through, but trust me…right around the 4:40 mark of this clip, it gets freakin’ amazing…and I don’t care what kind of music you’re into.