Peter Gabriel is 65 years old today. To commemorate this occasion, we’re looking back at some of his finest performances, both with Genesis and from his solo career. Gabriel is a consummate live performer, known for adding plenty of flash and theatrics to his live shows. These six performances will indicate just how much of a showman Peter Gabriel is:
“Watcher Of The Skies” – 1973
“Watcher of the Skies” is the powerful opening track from Genesis’s 1972 album Foxtrot. Gabriel’s emphatic vocal delivery and intricate costume work give the song a great bit of extra flair. Okay, I’d be lying if I said exactly why Gabriel is dressed as he is (perhaps some more enlightened Genesis fan in the comments could explain), but his lively outfits frequently added a theatrical element to Genesis’s live show, and this was no exception.
“Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” – 1973
This is Gabriel in peak eccentric form, performing the opening track off 1973’s Selling England by the Pound. “I am the voice of Britain before the Daily Express,” he says in the songs into. “My name is Britannia.” Well, no one is arguing with him there.
“Solsbury Hill” – 1978
After leaving Genesis in 1975, Gabriel struck out on his own and had his first solo hit with “Solsbury Hill,” a song about his decision to leave the band. In this impassioned performance of the song, he sounds truly liberated, like he couldn’t have stood another five seconds with Phil Collins and Tony Banks.
“Shock The Monkey” – 1987
During this performance, Gabriel was at the peak of his pop star era, with 1986’s So easily becoming the best-selling album of his career. This rendition of “Shock the Monkey,” the big hit off his fourth and final self-titled album, is noteworthy due to Gabriel’s impressive acrobatics as he moves across the stage like, well, a monkey. Gabriel was always determined to bring the themes of his songs to life on stage, and this is a perfect example.
“Come Talk To Me” – 1993
This track from Gabriel’s 1992 album Up gains considerable power in the live setting, with the pounding drums and ethereal keyboards adding considerable bombast. In a rather literal interpretation of the song’s title, we find Gabriel in a phone booth at the beginning of the song. He is eventually joined on stage by Paula Cole, who was still five years away from hitting the peak of her fame with “I Don’t Want To Wait” and “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?.”
“Intruder” – 2011
These days, Peter Gabriel doesn’t perform live very often. But in 2011, he gave a memorable performance on The Late Show with David Letterman, where he performed “Intruder,” one of the spookiest songs he’s ever recorded. To bring the song’s dark atmosphere to life, an entire orchestra was brought in. A fantastic rendition, and yet another reason why a new Peter Gabriel tour is sorely needed!