Genesis gigs in 1971 and 1972

Genesis gigs in 1971 and 1972
genesisprog72 I have been delaying writing on Genesis, because they were so important to me in the 70s, and I wanted to be sure that I do my memories, and this special band, justice. The first time I saw the band was on the Charisma package tour where they were joined by Van Der Graaf Generator and Lindisfarne for the princely sum of 30p. I have already blogged on that gig, where Genesis stole the show, as they would always do in those days. I saw Genesis several times in 1971 and 1972. They supported Mott the Hoople at a gig at Sunderland Locarno, and I also saw them as support for Lindisfarne at the City Hall (see programme) and at the Lincoln and Reading Festivals in 1972. The band were up and coming but they were also very much at the top of their game in many ways. During those years they released the classic albums “Nursery Cryme” and “Foxtrot”. Much of the set was drawn from “Nursery Cryme”, and I remember those songs best of all. “The Musical Box” and “The Return of the Giant Hogweed” were great stage favourites and would be preceded by long complex stories delivered in an enchanting, spell-binding and spooky manner by Peter Gabriel. “The Musical Box” was my favourite. Peter shaved the front of his head during this period, and also started to experiment with costumes. Steve Hackett would be sitting on a stool playing those intricate beautiful melodies, Tony Banks was wringing swirling, brooding sounds from his organ and Mike Rutherford would be quietly plucking away at his bass. Phil Collins was at the back on drums having recently joined the band, and providing backing vocals, and which were actually a very important part of their sound, which I didn’t realise until he was to become the front man a few years later.genesisprog72a The set would also feature the dramatic and fierce “The Knife” as encore, from their first “real” Genesis album Trespass, and later in 1972 new songs “Watcher of the Skies” (Peter would fly onto the stage as a weird bat-like creature) and the epic “Suppers Ready”, both from the “Foxtrot” album were introduced into the set. The set which sticks in my mind most of all is Reading 72. Genesis were featured on the Friday night of the festival, on a line-up headed by Curved Air and also featuring Mungo Jerry. It was a warm, calm evening and Genesis came on stage at dusk,  just as it was getting dark. Their beautiful textured sound flowed across the field, and we were all silent, entranced by Peter’s stories and by his strong presence. The Musical Box story was my favourite: Cynthia kills Henry, by knocking off his head with a croquet mallet, and then finds his musical box in the attic.  It was pure magic and they were easily the highlight of that night. A recording exists of that evening and shows that they played: The Knife; Twilight Alehouse; Watcher Of The Skies; The Musical box; The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. Pure magic. Genesis were to gain their most success a few years later, but it is those early gigs that stick in my mind. The band were at their most inventive, their most powerful, and their most potent in 1972 and 1972. You just had to be there to understand it. There was a simplicity, an innocence, a purity about them in those days. Magic.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Neil McEwan on January 27, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I was a big fan of Genesis at this time and saw them play at the Dagenham Roundhouse with a mate from school and at a venue at Mile End (Sundowner?). During the era of Gabriel’s strangely shaved head and costumes. Remember him walking up to the mic at the Roundhouse wearing a flower on his head to start the set and the mic didn’t work, spurring Peter to throw the mic to the floor and stomp off for a while. Calling for and receiving ‘The Knife’ as an encore was always a treat.

    i had tickets to see them play the Theatre Royal Drury Lane a few years later, but they had got big by then and I didn’t watch them in the end.

    Thanks for posting this and bringing back so many good memories of a magical time.


  2. Hello, lovely reading your memories about Genesis in this period, they were indeed completely unique at the time and one of my favourite bands, it really is difficult to believe the atrocity they became in the 80’s and 90’s! In fact they were the first band I ever saw live, at Newcastle City Hall in October 1973, and it was a mind blowing experience, can still remember Tony’s booming mellotron opening to Watcher, stunning. I saw them again doing the Lamb at the same venue a couple of years later and then at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1982 when they got back together for that one gig and nearly killed off a decent proportion of their fanbase due to the inclemency of the weather, none stop rain and wind! The things we do for rock and roll eh. Anyway, great blog mate, enjoying the read. Simon.


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 21, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Simon yes Genesis were pretty special in those days. I must have seen them 7 or 8 times. There were never the same again after Gabriel left. I regret not going to the Milton Keynes gig. I remember it being late in the year, some of my friends went and said it was pretty cold. I still live in hope that we might yet see Gabriel back with the old band. But I doubt it. I think the closest that can be seen now is probably Steve Hackett. I would love to see the reformed Genesis encore with The Knife later this year. Again I doubt this will happen. Happy days Peter


  3. Yeah Peter Genesis were over for me when Gabriel left, by the time they played Newcastle again I was 16 or 17 and well into punk, even then they were well on their way to becoming dinosaurs and by the 80’s Mike and Tony were essentially Phil Collins backing band, really sad. But I had to see them in 82 just because they’d meant to so much to me when I was in my early teens. The gig itself was great despite the indescribably awful weather, Peter was brought on in a coffin and came out of it dressed as Rael from the Lamb and straight into Back in NYC, amazing. Agree re the Knife, that was the classic encore from that period, and always a highlight. Funny you mention Steve Hackett, I did see him when he played a few years ago doing all that early Genesis stuff, and I did enjoy it, it was great to be back at the City Hall hearing all that material again, and as it turns out I was seated almost exactly where I’d been when I first saw them aged 13, which really did take me back. I know they’re touring again under the name but as I say Genesis hasn’t meant anything to me since 1975, though I must say I admire Gabriel for forging such a varied, interesting solo career, he’s made some great albums in his own right. As for Genesis, I try and forget about the MOR slop they’ve churned out over the years and remember what a great band they were in the early to mid 70’s. Happy days as you say mate.


    • Posted by vintagerock on March 22, 2021 at 1:17 pm

      Hi Simon yes I am not a big fan of the new Genesis. However the Trick of the Tail tour was excellent; and a big surprise after Gabriel left. But then they started becoming more middle-of-the-road and a disappointment. Still I am going along to see them at Newcastle Arena later in the year, partly in the hope that they will play some old material; any of The Musical Box, I know what I like, and especially The Knife would do me. But I think it unlikely. Still I can live in hope! As you say happy days Best wishes Peter


  4. Posted by Dave Erskine on July 7, 2021 at 12:19 am

    Hi – just came across and read with interest your account of early Genesis in 71/72. I was a big fan of the band having bought Trespass then picking up a copy of their first album from the newly opened mail order Virgin records.
    When asked to be involved in the set up and organisation of an Arts Festival in my home town of Kelso in the Scottish Borders I jumped at the chance and offered to source and book a band for the inaugural ‘pop’ concert. Knowing who I wanted I tracked down the agency of Terry King Associates and for the princely sum of £250 booked Genesis. I was pretty much chief cook & bottlewasher organising printing and distribution of tickets, designing posters and promoting the gig as far and wide as I knew how. On the night I was MC and responsible for ensuring all was as trouble free for the bands as I could manage. Needless to say it was a magical evening from the opening swooping chords of Watcher of the Skies to the encore of The Knife. After the gig I was invited back to their hotel (which turned out to be a 12 mile drive away) and stayed there into the small hours chatting with the band and drinking their beer. Although I’ve lived on Tyneside since the late 70’s there are still friends back in Kelso who remember and talk with much fondness of that time when live rock music hit the town.


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 7, 2021 at 11:25 am

      Hi Dave

      Many thanks for sharing your memories. Great story. Yes Genesis were pretty special in the early days. I still get tingles down my spine when I hear the start of “The Knife”. The perfect encore. You are lucky to have promoted Genesis in those early days. Happy days Peter


  5. Posted by stellasonata on June 24, 2022 at 8:04 am

    Thank you for your commentary. It was perfectly personal (the best writing). I posted it on twitterweird. I have a half-begun blog or two. Maybe I can be inspired again because of writers like you. xo


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 24, 2022 at 11:45 am

      Many thanks Stella and thank you for signing up to my blog. I hope you enjoy reading my concert memories. Best wishes Peter


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