Concert Photography: Helge Øverås

Peter Gabriel

As the leader of Genesis in the early '70s, Peter Gabriel helped move progressive rock to new levels of theatricality. After seven years fronting Genesis, Gabriel tired of the extensive touring and band format and went solo in 1975. In his solo career, Gabriel was no less ambitious, but he was more subtle in his methods. Unlike his earlier extravagant, theatrical presentations, he favoured minimalism and often played shows in a plain boiler suit. With his first eponymous solo album in 1977, he began exploring darker, more cerebral territory, incorporating avant-garde, electronic, and worldbeat influences into his music. The record, as well as its two similarly titled successors, established Gabriel as a critically acclaimed cult artist.

Gabriel's third eponymous album was his artistic breakthrough. Produced by Steve Lillywhite and released in 1980, the album established Gabriel as one of rock's most ambitious, innovative musicians, as well as one of its most political. «Biko», a song about the murdered South African activist Stephen Biko, became one of the biggest anti-racist anthems of the '80s. «Games Without Frontiers», with its eerie chorus, nearly reached the Top 40. «Shock the Monkey» became his first Top 40 hit, paving the way for his multi-platinum breakthrough So in 1986. Accompanied by a series of groundbreaking videos and the number one single «Sledgehammer», So became a multi-platinum hit, and Gabriel became an international star. He was celebrated as an artist whose work was popular without being compromised. A duet with Kate Bush, «Don't Give Up», also lifted from So, became a UK Top 10 hit in November 1986.

Instead of capitalizing on his sudden success, he began to explore other interests, including recording soundtracks and running his company Real World. Throughout the 80s, Gabriel dedicated much of his time to absorbing world music, and in 1982 inaugurated the WOMAD (World Of Music And Dance) Festival. He also became heavily involved in Amnesty International and recorded with Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour. The pair toured the USA under the banner of «Conspiracy Of Hope» and raised money for Amnesty. He invited musicians from all over the world to record at his luxurious self-built Real World studios in Bath and incorporated many non-Western ideas into his own music.

In 1989, Gabriel was commissioned to write the score for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ. Virgin Records released a greatest hits collection in 1990, «Shaking The Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats». Although 1992's Us fell short of the high standard set by So, it put Gabriel back in the public eye with a series of outstandingly creative videos for singles such as «Steam», «Digging In The Dirt» and «Kiss That Frog». In 1999, Gabriel was commissioned to contribute music and act as musical director for the Millennium Dome show in London. The soundtrack was released the following year on the Ovo album.


Peter Gabriel, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, 31.08.1978. Photo: Helge Øverås Peter Gabriel, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, 31.08.1978. Photo: Helge Øverås
Peter Gabriel, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, 31.08.1978. Photo: Helge Øverås