Comment from Jim:
My name is Jim P. of Salem, Virginia and an ardent Genesis fan since the early 70's.
I want to thank you for your painstaking and insightful analysis of the Lamb. To my knowledge, I doubt anyone but you has devoted time and effort to depict each piece part with such reverence and devotion to a band that was part of the renaissance of the 2nd British Invasion.
On the eve of my 23rd birthday, I attended the December 1, 1974 performance of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway at the Lyric Theater in Baltimore, Maryland, which was a few hours drive from my school Madison College (Now Jame Madison U).
The Lamb was just released late that same week so I had barely enough time listening to side 1 before attending the Sunday night concert. Of course, back then a Genesis venue was a theater with maybe 1,000 seats that lend itself to INCREDIBLE acoustics! Regardless where one sat, you got an earful and didn't miss a dynamic or musical nuance. Now, I had listen ample times to their earlier LP 's (Nursery Crymes, Foxtrot, Selling England, etc) and knew how proficient these guys were in the studio. But LIVE, oh my, the energy form this band was unparalleled!
So, I was attending a concert knowing little about the libretto much less the twists and turns of this spiritual journey from the perception of Rael. The entire journey was surreal to be sure.
After the last number (IT) the band came out and finished us all off with The Musical Box. This was the best birthday gift I ever received though it was to and from myself.
In retrospect, though it is not my favorite Genesis LP (favoring Trick of the Tail), The Lamb was the most adventurous and ground breaking rock opera of the new wave prog rock phenomena. The music, drama, story line, and emotional curve was not predictable. The music took us to highs and lows that were not expected or telegraphed. The Lamb was original and musically so ahead of its time, it remains fresh today when I listen to the studio or Shrine 75 live version.
Lastly, I was aware that Peter did dub many of his vocals of the Shrine version because of the many live challenges you broached on the video. Especially the finale of IT since the reel to reel tapes left their spindles while the band played on! Pete's overdubs are remarkable considering he was twice his former age recording lines with more emotion, control, confidence, and talent.
Oh, by the way, I still have my Lamb ticket stub!
Thanks, Leigh - for your time, attention, and devotion. We'll never see the likes of this band again. It is a privilege and honor to be part of the Genesis history.
Wowzer, Jim !
Thank you so much for allowing us to vicariously re-live such vivid memories (of that most of us never had the chance to experience first-hand, as you did)!
You wrote of how dynamic early Genesis was while performing, back in those days, with Gabriel & Hackett still in place.
I've often read of what a challenge it was for the band, Tony Stratton-Smith and Tony Smith to try to successfully capture & record that live-wire, electric musical alchemy they dealt so charismatically to their attending concert audiences.
What you described, in your Lamb experience all those years ago in the Lyric Theatre...sounds quite reminiscent of what others have put forth about that very tour.
It was a heady and brave experiment...especially with the attempt at the first true multi-media enhanced rock opera. But, it was the depth of the musical arrangements (augmented by the dense metaphorical lyrical treatments) that seemed to make the most impression on you?
I'm so pleased you were able to be there, for your birthday so long ago..so that you could be here to recount all those Mind's Eye-witness moments for us...offering both an aural and visceral re-counting of what was the TRUE, layered experience that was the Lamb of 1975! (Then, this little-known, barely-released allegorical concept album - penned by five 25-yr-old young musical prodigies)
I think that most of us - who have only been able to listen to the original mobile unit/Island Records mix-down studio recording, the King Biscuit Flower Hour/Shrine recording, the "restored" Archive version (of the dueling 25/47 yr old Gabriel's singing) and the countless bootlegs of the various individual dates of the tour - can only experience in a one-dimensional way.
We must try to IMAGINE the visual presentations that was going both behind the band (the 3 projection screens) and in front (Gabriel galavanting about in all his costumes, his glory - giving emotional life to his protagonist Rael via his smoky, emotional vocals)....as well as the overwhelmingly potent acoustics which Genesis was always known for, in those days, in the smaller, more intimate venues.
I promise that I will be thinking of your description of the original concert - when I begin my personal tour of watching The Musical Box present The Lamb, starting next week, in L.A.
I will be seeing 6 of their shows...stretching from the West Coast to the East Coast (from various vantage points, in order to take in both the broad views..and, the close - for many of the finer nuances) - so that I may write of this extraordinarily fastidious re-capitulation of the original tour.
With your insights, I will let my imagination reel back to what you've shared...doing my best to "overlay" the intense feeling of dynamic surrealism you described so well...
I will make believe that I am sitting there beside you in the Lyric Theatre, as you once again help me Count Out Time (of days gone past ;-)
Reply from Jim:
Holy cow, what an eloquent reply! And I ENVY your attending the Musical Box “Lamb” performance.
You know, when the foursome (Banks, Phillips,Rutherford, and Gabriel) formed Genesis in 1967 while finishing their education at the Charterhouse, they wrote their songs for other artists to perform.
And, as we know, because they became quite adventurous no one wanted to tackle their material so they stepped up to the plate and, well the rest is historic. NOW many ensembles, including symphony orchestras, are performing Genesis globally. So their original intent has come to pass after all.
When I attended The Lamb concert on that fateful December 1, 1974 outing in Baltimore, I was sitting in the balcony in the old theater looking down at the stage with a generous perspective.
No heads to crowd my view and though the venue was sold out, it was quiet enough to soak in all the sonorous beauty that each musician deftly demonstrated. As I mention Lil, these guys were POWERFUL live!
Their ability to ride the spectrum of musical dynamics beginning with Tony’s signature cross handed e minor intro of The Lamb (though on an electric piano) to orchestral atmospheric crescendos of the Chamber of 32 Doors (Hackett was exquisite!) was beyond words.
You had to be here to grasp this epic adventure that most of the audience, including myself, were wondering “where in the world is this going?” Gabriel was a showman bouncing all over the stage sometimes shaking a tambourine demonstrating an illusory 360 degree arc (to date I don’t know how he did this!). His few priceless flute contributions were part of the Genesis fabric.
Steve Hackett sat to Pete’s right rendering a panoply of atmospheric sounds that would make any gifted guitarist drool. Though the Lamb is predominantly a keyboard rich performance, Steve shined on many parts.
Mike was fluently juggling parts between his double neck 6 string bass and 12 string electric. His contribution colored the music with shades of pastels to visceral intensity.
Phil (I’m a drummer) was unbelievable! As good a singer he is, he was a much better drummer! WOW is all I can say about his technical contribution. The Lamb is a very demanding and technical drumming composition. BUT taste is and always has been Phil’s forte. His phrasing is impeccable.
Tony Banks...what can anyone say about Tony? He is the heart and soul of Genesis (from a SOUND perspective). No one played a mellotron with synthesizer and organ lines like Tony.
The Lamb reminds me of an Astral atmospheric symphonic soundscape.
I won’t bore you further but let me add one more personal highlight I think you will envy.
Fast forward to April 7, 1976, the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, PA.
It’s the midnight show of the Trick of the Tail (of course I have my ticket stub!) and I’m in the 5th row from the front smack dab in the presence of Steve Hackett (standing this time!)!
Lil, this was the concert of all concerts! Smaller than the Lyric theater, Genesis played EVERYTHING I intimately knew line for line, note for note. Including the entire Trick LP! Bill Bruford was Phil’s drumming crony and he was incredible.
Much better, in my humble opinion, than Chester. Bill was English and he knew the Genesis persona. The list of songs ranged from White Mountain (Trespass), Supper’s Ready, Firth of Fifth, Cinema Show, Lamb Stew (Including Fly on a Windshield!!!), Dance on a Volcano, Entangled (I left my body during this piece!), Squonk, Robbery, Assualt, and Battery, and ended with Los Endos. They came back playing IT and Watchers of the Skies.
It was 12:45 when I left the theater and “floated” home. It was a more than a religious experience. It was a spiritual journey up and down the Genesis mountain side leaving me wanting more.
Enjoy the concert. I look forward to your insightful review. I know The Musical Box will do the Lamb justice. Take care and thanks for listening.
Just counting out time,