I (sort of) almost got to see Genesis in concert, in the mid 1970s. In the Summer of 1974 (I think it was) I recall my Brother coming in to tell me he had heard a rumour Genesis were planning to put in a surprise appearance at a music festival being held at, of all places, Kirkton Park in Bathgate, where we lived. Although highly, HIGHLY sceptical, I nevertheless made my way to the park, just in case I was about to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime. I just arrived in time to greet the entrance onto the stage (or bandstand, to be strictly accurate) of a local band called Exodus. Very clearly Brother’s lack of knowledge of contemporary progressive rock was matched only by his ignorance of The Scriptures.
My first real opportunity to catch the band came with the Wind and Wuthering tour in 1977, but too much dilly-dallying on my part resulted in the gig being sold out before I got my act together. I expected tickets for this 1980 gig to disappear equally swiftly, but fortunately one of Wife-to-Be’s friends knew a friend of a friend who worked at the Edinburgh Odeon, and they kindly scurried down to the box office on our behalf.
This tour was to promote the album Duke, which I had bought for WTB primarily on the strength of the hit single Turn It On Again, which she had thought was quite neat. It was indeed true what cynics said – the main difference between pre and post Gabriel Genesis, was that your Girlfriend would now come to the gigs with you.
I listened to the new album a few times, but toiled with it more than somewhat I have to say. It was supposed to be a concept album of sorts, but even close scrutiny of the lyrics failed to yield any cohesive story or common thread running through it. The best I could come up with was some vague notion that the album explored a deteriorating relationship between a couple of fading singers/entertainers known as Duke and Duchess. Quite how the song Heathaze fitted into this concept I could not fathom.
It was only sometime later I discovered the Duke “concept” songs made up only part of the album, with unconnected pieces interspersed between them. Even so, this barely clarified things. The band, however, would play the Duke “suite” in its entirety at the concert, thankfully ignoring the others on the album – all of which were ditchwater dull.
So, Duke is not my favourite Genesis album, and yet is probably the last listenable one. In fact, if I may drift into opinion here (it is my blog after all), I think the only truly wonderful songs the band have produced since Gabriel’s departure are Entangled, Ripples, Blood On The Rooftops, That’s All and, perhaps, The Lady Lies. That’s not really a lot of substance upon which to succeed in amassing three personal fortunes. So, I suppose, “Well Done Lads”, for making a lot out of a little.
The concert itself opened with Deep in the Motherlode – one of the cowboy songs from And Then There Were Three. An odd choice, I thought, as it is not a particularly strident piece. We were then treated to the opening verses of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, which segued seamlessly into The Carpet Crawlers. Whatever criticism one may have regarding the lyrics to this latter song, (which make no sense whatsoever when divorced from the context of the album from which it is taken), one cannot but dote on the mesmerically beautiful melody.
Squonk and One For The Vine followed; neither of which I have ever had much time for, before the aforementioned Duke Suite was given an airing. Say It’s Alright Joe, had Phil Collins hamming it up in a mac and hat; bar stool preaching with glass in hand. Quite a brave thing to do, given his predecessor’s reputation for theatricality and between-songs banter. It perhaps didn’t quite come off, but it was a fun interlude.
Things picked up considerably with The Lady Lies and Ripples – the latter a song, I feel, which has grown in stature over the years. Almost a throwaway single from Trick of the Tail - it was not even played during the tour to support that album. Time (perhaps inaptly, given the song’s theme) has been kind to the composition, and I sometimes wonder perhaps if part of the reason for this, is that Michael Rutherford’s lyrics touch a chord in all of us; more so with each passing year. Steve Hackett and Tony Banks’ interplay during the instrumental passage (studio version, obviously) still prickles the hair on the back of my neck.
The frantic keyboard gymnastics of In The Cage/Slippermen dissolved effortlessly into Afterglow, this live version of the latter breathing life into a composition the studio recording of which, I always feel, sounds just sort of flat. As the song reached its climax, the dry-ice machine put in an appearance and the stage was bathed in first purple then pink light. It all sounds a bit naff written down here, but at the time it looked stunning, and I recall at the time thinking this really would make a perfect end to the concert. But the guys, to my relief, just kept on going.
Sites on the web state the set proper closed with Dance On a Volcano/Los Endos, and yet for years I could have sworn the instrumental passage from The Cinema Show, was included somewhere in there. Nothing I have found on the web supports this, including the almost definitive “Genesis – the Movement” website, which even quotes the set list from a bootlegged recording of this actual gig. So, I have to acquiesce here, and acknowledge if it is not quite confabulation of which I have been guilty, then certainly some degree of retrospective wishful thinking.
One definite omission from the show was Supper's Ready, but I didn’t really mind too much. I think most of the epic, (the fiendishly complex Apocalypse in 9/8 section apart) has not really worn well with time, and even back in 1980 it had all begun to seem just a touch too 1970s.
My own and Genesis’s respective musical paths diverged after this gig really, as they chased the Yankee Dollar, whilst I discovered The Beat and The Specials. That these Old Friends and I had become total strangers was confirmed the following year, when my Cousin and I listened in shocked silence to Who Dunnit? from the Abacab album.
Deep In The Motherlode
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight/The Carpet Crawlers
One For The Vine
Behind The Lines
Turn It On Again
Say It’s Alright Joe
The Lady Lies
In The Cage/Colony of The Slippermen
Follow You, Follow Me
Dance On A Volcano
I Know What I Like