Tuesday, 9 December 2014

1975 (part one) - from Genesis to revelation

When I started this thread, a musical journey from 1961 to 2014, almost a year ago, my intention was to rattle off these posts one a day, get through the '60s so I could get on to the ones I really wanted to write about - the mid 70s.  A fortnight would have got me from being born to my first gig.  And then a bunch of stuff happened and the thread got derailed.

But 1974 appeared a few days ago.  I did mean to mention on that post - go to http://1001-songs.blogspot.co.uk/ for a really good blog about 1974 (and track back for a really good blog about 1973).  (And I'm guessing stick around for a really good blog about 1975 from January onwards).  Anyway I feel a sense of duty to get to 1980.  So off we go again.

The first live performances I went to were classical concerts at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and Junior Showtime in Vale Park Bandstand in Wallasey.  They were worlds apart but I must admit I enjoyed both.  At least some of the visits to the Phil were with school, an enlightened attempt to get some Culture into our young minds.  The visits to Vale Park were just what people did on a Sunday afternoon in Wallasey.  Junior Showtime was a talent show where precocious children sang old Music Hall songs like My Old Man Said Follow that Van and Don't Dilly Dally on the Way.  Seems like those songs were not as innocent as we thought but were full of smutty innuendo.  There they were being performed by coquettish kids in the shadow of the old Yewtree.

In 1975, a few days after my 14th birthday, I went to my first proper gig.  At the Empire in Liverpool's Lime Street. My first time was Genesis.  Before you snigger this was Genesis with Peter Gabriel performing Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.  In its entirety. With a couple of encores - Musical Box and The Knife.

I'd certainly been to the Empire before but I guess mostly for Christmas pantos.  A rock gig was different.  It was like being in the classroom when the teacher has gone.  People wandering around or sitting on the backs of chairs, smoking and random shouting.  I imagine it wasn't just the Empire that had Random Shouting but there were two calls in particular popular in Liverpool for years - Wally and Albatross.  It would go like this.  The theatre would fill up.  There'd be some low key music coming through the PA and an increasing hubbub of chatter.  Then one person somewhere would call out Albatrossssssssss! This would be the cue for others to echo the call until there was a cacophony of random Albatross shouting.  It would end quite abruptly and we'd return to hubbub.  Hubbub, hubbub.  And someone would call out Wally and this would do the rounds from the stalls to the gods and back.  We have John Cleese to thank for Albatross and I think Wally was a Woodstock hangover.  His memory lingers on in the Where's Wally and Where's Waldo books.

Back to Genesis.  You can hear the show from the youtube link above (included in the interests of historic accuracy).  Actually it is heavily edited - it is missing Peter Gabriel's efforts to explain the story.  If you put together Gabriel's spiels, the libretto of the Lamb and the tale included on the album's inner sleeve (thoughtfully reproduced in the programme) you'd still have no idea what it was all about.  MyMateDave's dad said they must all be on drugs to be writing that stuff.  It was an incredible gig.  Your first time is always particularly memorable but this had a band at their creative peak; a 70s light show with slides, costumes and flutes; a suite of songs with a thread, with pace, a beginning, a middle and an end; high level of musicianship without descending into that heylookatmeImamuso thing.  They were a hard act to follow.  Seeing Floyd doing DSOTM probably would have topped it but I never saw that.

The next time I saw Genesis went like this:  late 1976: MyMateDave: hey look Genesis are playing the Empire again, wanna go? Me: yeah why not.  We get tickets.  October 1976, November 1976, December 1976 NME is full of punk.  Our interest in Genesis had already waned.  In fact it dissipated the day Gabriel left.  Crap like Squonk and Your Own Special Way did nothing for our burgeoning musical tastes, but it was a gig and a gig's a gig. So in January 1977 we were new punk converts ans we were in Liverpool with second row tickets for Genesis.  In the afternoon we saw the band walking down Lime Street.  If you've read this far you probably know that with Peter Gabriel gone drummer Phil Collins had taken on the role of singer which meant there was a new drummer.  Chester Thompson.  Frank Zappa's drummer!!!  So me and MyMateDave walk past Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford and shout Hey Chester! What was it like playing with Zappa?  There's another story about that night which involves Ol Man River, a dangling mic and a burly bouncer but not for here.

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