Genesis Live 1973

Peter Gabriel – The Musical Box

I just finished watching this post on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FBcz3tBH74

I must admit that when I first saw Genesis on television, on the Midnight Special in 1973, I was underwhelmed. I was familiar with Watcher of the Skies and liked the song. It was in regular rotation on WNEW FM in NY. However, I wasn’t ready for Peter Gabriel’s campy performance. Moreover, as a Mahavishnu John McLaughlin fan I was expecting intense soloing when I caught sight of a double neck guitar. I didn’t realize that it was a combination Rickenbacker bass and 12 string.

It took my friend Frank from Manhattan to convince me a few years later, by playing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway for me, that I should pay attention to Genesis. I quickly bought their back catalog. Unfortunately for me, by the time I caught them live, in 1976, Peter Gabriel had departed the group. However, I must say that it was a treat to see Bill Bruford (ex Yes and King Crimson), as he assisted on drums to let Phil Collins front the band. The opening act was the Strawbs.

And, I did get to see Peter Gabriel on his first solo tour in early 1977 at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. Robert Fripp was present on guitar, albeit, he was playing offstage due to some legal consideration.  The opening act was Tom Verlaine and Television. The highlight for me was when Gabriel performed Back In N.Y.C.

Watching this Genesis concert on You Tube, I was struck by their impeccable musicianship. I think this band was sorely underrated. Collins’ mastery of difficult time signatures is impressive. He makes it seem effortless and even sings while doing so. Heck, I struggle to sing while playing guitar unless I’m strumming something relatively simple.

Steve Hackett, on guitar, floors me. He is very reminiscent of Robert Fripp, except that he incorporates two hand tapping into his playing – and this is before Van Halen or other shredders. By the way, I am very covetous of his Les Paul with mini-Humbuckers – talk about great tone!  Tony Banks is as good as any progressive rock keyboardist and he certainly holds his own here. Mike Rutherford also shows prowess with odd time signatures and fills in with bass pedals when playing the 12 string. It also doesn’t hurt that Rutherford and Banks double on 12 string guitar.

Once you get where he is coming from, Gabriel’s over the top performance is enjoyable. And his unique voice lent the grit and cry that Genesis needed, and sadly lacked during the Phil Collins era. His flute playing was never really featured but served more as adornment during quieter passages.

I really miss those days when rock musicians could care less about having a hit or reaching the mainstream or fitting into a particular niche. They were focused on musicianship and had a unique vision and this usually translated into more interesting music. I will never understand why Progressive Rock was once so well received but was later relegated to the dustbin of history.

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