“Invisible Lamb Fan” - Genesis perform at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy, Paris on 2nd June 1987. Review by Iain Buckle. Photographs by Guido Truffer.
Having not truly established any firm musical loyalties at the time of the previous Genesis tour, with the current tour upon us I decided what better way to see Genesis live for the very first time than to see them in Europe. A trip to view them in Paris was advertised, which myself and five friends became duly booked on.
The travel company boasted a good reputation and the fun began as we all gathered at Vauxhall Coach Station in London for 9pm on Sunday 31st May. We arrived two hours early nonetheless, but time passed and eventually we left on the first leg of the trip by road to Dover. The coach, albeit prehistoric and unfit to transport cattle to an abattoir, found Dover at last and a very pleasant ferry crossing saw us arrive in the French port of Calais in the early hours of Monday. A quick adjustment to all wrist watches and we were off again on the road to Paris.
We arrived at our intended destination twelve hours after we had left the English capital, tired and showing signs of much relief. The hotel proved very cosy but with hardly enough room to swing a Squonk. The rest of the day was taken up with the six of us acting as obvious English tourists.
A peaceful night ( hardly surprising since we were located miles from anywhere) ended with us checking out of the hotel mid morning on the Tuesday. We conquered the Eiffel Tower, and soon it was time to board the coach once more to go to the concert venue in the heart of this so-called “romantic” city, which I personally found quite mundane. A few boos for the less- than-useless courier as he touted his ticket and we were in the queue to enter the arena which looked most impressive from the outside.
We were in! And so was the recording Sony Walkman! After much persuading the French merchandiser that it was in fact the medium sized T shirt we wanted, and not the extra large poster, we found a square foot of space in which to stand very near the front, and waited. The audience appeared a funny bunch, and already the heat was quite exhausting.
No Paul Young tonight (Oh that really was a disappointment!), so Genesis were billed on at 8.30, rather 20h30 as our impressive ticket read. The time came and went and it got all too much for one poor French fan. The lights dimmed and the echoing rhythms of the opening bars of Mama began to fade in. This was it - my first real view of Genesis in the flesh - I was only yards (metres) from the band who presented me with so many hours of musical appreciation.
The raucous Mama was followed by the effervescent Abacab, a good couple of powerful opening numbers. The first “new” track was Domino introduced in French by Phillippe. The light show was becoming most impressive comparing well to expectations. You really can’t begin to appreciate the extent of the visuals unless you have seen them, and they compliment the music so very well - a show in their own right.
After That’s All, and the instrumental The Brazilian, the highlight of the show for me - In The Cage - was I the only one singing to this? I only wish there had been more from the past, after all, Genesis is an era is it not? Surely history stretching back nearly twenty years. The medley also sadly omitted Apocalypse In 9/8, something I hope is re-introduced to the set for the UK dates.
Land Of Confusion, Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Throwing it All Away (the latter incorporating a tidy sing-along ditty) completed the first half of the set - all very well performed. One cannot deny the physical effort given by this group of men (even if Collins’ voice perhaps wasn’t perfect on the night). Bu the dedicated Genesis follower must have surely doubted loyalty and feel forgotten by this choice of songs.
Home By The Sea and its sequel restored my confidence. Even I was able to conclude that “Le phantome” must have translated as “Ghost”. When Invisible Touch was playing I was startled to see that the mostly young audience were dancing away and seeming to go wild to a song which can only be described as a Collinsy catchy pop song. It made me sad and again came that alienated feeling that made me wish this was 1975 and I was in some quaint Hippodrome somewhere listening eagerly to The Lamia. Tonight was becoming predictable.
The now standard Drum Duet was welcomed by the writer with joy - me a would be drummer? (Now where have I heard that before?) just mesmerised at the talents possessed by Messrs Collins and Thompson. I wonder which one of them has the edge?
Los Endos interrupted by naive audience claps ended the main set and all that is left is the inevitable Turn It On Again plus Sixties Medley neo encore, which worked well. Leaving the hall afterwards to thunderous applause, Genesis must have been please by their night’s work and the reaction of this crowd.
Although I enjoyed the concert, I can hope for more from Genesis ’87 in the UK later this month and July. The trip back home was long, not made shorter by the strangely unenthusiastic gathering of travelling English fans.