Genesis is one of those late 60's/early 70's rock bands caught betweenaudiences. They didn't arrive early enough to catch the attention of theWoodstockian rock masses; they didn't arrive late enough to be lumped-inwith the Bowie/Reed crowd. In addition, they've got a front man named PeterGabriel who seems to think it's 1987. It's of little wonder then that Genesishad to come to this country three times before people started to take notice,and it probably won't be until their next tour that they get the attentionthey deserve.
The first time I saw Genesis was at their first American performanceat Philharmonic Hall in New York City. Since then I've stopped in to seethem every year or so to check-in and get a progress report.
As musicians, Genesis are talented and capable of mixing melodic,beat-laden pop music with etherial rock and roll. Each of their songs tellsa story, sometimes a fairy tale, sometimes a nightmare, but always descriptivein its lyrical narration with sound that matches perfectly. Their albumsreflect their ability as players as well as providing an unillustratededition of their music.
I say that because Genesis is the first band that, at the moment,you have to see live to understand. Until you've seen a Genesis per. formanceyou'll have no idea of what they're about, for it is in performance thatleader Peter Gabriel shines.
Dressed as a fox or satan or as two dozen balloons, Peter is thefirst rock story teller, a genuine Pied Piper eager to lead his audienceinto the world of makebelieve. He uses visual projections to create newworlds onstage, then his sense of staging and mime take over. He acts outthe characters in his songs, making lightning changes of costume—costumesthat are often bizarre in nature.
The big problem, of course, is how to put this on a record. The musicwill hold up—it is just as spectacular on their albums as in concert—butwhat about the moment when Peter appears dressed as a flower? No, Genesisyou've got to see perform. You've got to be there to understand what rocktheatrics are about, why even the likes of Cooper and Bowie have nevercreated visual magic onstage and why Peter Gabriel does . . . and how he'sgetting better at it every day.
Peter Gabriel and Genesis are a truely remarkable collection of musiciansand magicians. If you haven't seen them perform, you've missed one of thefew exciting experiences in rock and roll.