Peter Gabriel – A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Highland HL015/016#PG1)

A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Highland HL015/016#PG1)

Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway – August 31st, 1978

Disc 1 (71:27):  Introduction, On The Air, Moribund The Burgermeister, Modern Love, Flotsam And Jetsam, White Shadow, Wonderful Day In A One Way World, Humdrum, Waiting For The Big One, D.I.Y., Home Sweet Home, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Here Comes The Flood, Slow Burn, Mother Of Violence, I Don’t Remember

Disc 2 (63:20):  Solsbury Hill, Animal Magic, Perspective.  Bonus tracks, Bottom Line, New York, NY – October 4th, 1978:  On The Air, D.I.Y., Solsbury Hill, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.  Music Hall, Cleveland, OH – March 15th, 1977:  Ain’t That Peculiar, A Song Without Words, Waiting For The Big One, Excuse Me, Slowburn, All Day And All Of The Night

Highland released too few Peter Gabriel titles when they were in operation.  Their first Gabriel was among their initial batch released in 1996 A Whiter Shade Of Pale.  The main tape used is the August 31st, 1978 Oslo audience recording.  It is a distant but very clear and interesting tape from his first show in Norway as a solo artist.  There are three bonus tracks from the Bottom Line in New York several months later from an excellenet sounding recording.  The final six tracks come from his first US tour more than a year later from a WMMS Cleveland radio broadcast.

Gabriel released his second solo album (“scratch”) during the summer in 1978.  His first live apperance was guesting with Genesis in July in New York, but touring began wit shows in Oxford and Lancaster before heading to Oslo.  The concert was held at the Chateu Neuf in Oslo, a venue that houses the Det Norske Studentersamfund (Norwegian Students Union), Norway’s oldest student union and an important influence upon Norwegian cultural and political debate.  It is interesting, by Gabriel being booked at this venue, to see the place popular music is held within the Scandinavian political life.

Gabriel brought most of the studio band with him on the road including Tony Levin on bass, Jerry Marotta on drums, Larry Fast on synthesizers, Timmy Capello on piano and sax, and Sid McGinnis on guitar.  Missing were Robert Fripp and E Street Bander Roy Bittan who played on the second album sessions.  

Since Peter is one who didn’t want to rely upon the catalogue of his former band (too much), the setlist is comprised of songs drawn almost entirely from the first two albums.  The show begins with several energetic numbers “On The Air,” “Moribund The Burgermeister” and “Modern Love.”  The big epic number of the set is “Waiting For The Big One” from the first solo album.  Lasting more than seven minutes long, it is one of the very few song Gabriel wrote with a strong commitment to the blues.  And for the second half of the song (marked by a loud ovation) Peter switches to drums, Tony Levin switches from bass to piano and drummer Jerry Marotta changes to bass. 

After “Home Sweet Home” Gabriel speaks to the audience, saying, “this one comes in a form to a dedication to a peculiar sect of people to which we belong.  It is a secret brotherhood with the initials B.O.F.  This was initiated by the English rock press and the initials stand for Boring Old Fart.  This is a Boring Old Fart and I’m proud to be one.  And this is our national anthem.”  Anything but the performance of a boring of fart, they play a fast and aggressive Sex Pistols style cover of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale.”  “I Don’t Remember” is the newest song played in the set being played two years before it would be released officially on the 1980 album.  The final song of the set is “Solsbury Hill” followed by two encores, “Animal Magic” and “Perspective.” 

The first four bonus tracks, “On The Air,” “D.I.Y.,” “Solsbury Hill,” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” come from several months later.  Gabriel played two shows at teh Beacon theater in New York on October 4th.  These three songs are sourced from a very good to excellent soundboard.  The main point of interest is Robert Fripp, who produced the second album, joining in to deliver his style of guitar playing lunacy.  The final six songs come from a radio broadcast from Cleveland on WMMR in May 1977.  This is in very good quality and is notable for the rare songs “Song Without Words” and a cover of the Kinks tune “All Of The Day.”  The packaging is simple but effective, with the variations of the covers for the first two albums.  In general this is a very good title for the Peter Gabriel collection.

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