The Genesis Story Part Five - Foxtrot. By Peter Morton. Memorabilia: TWR Archive/Mino Profumo.
With the surprise of Trespass making it to the number one spot in the Belgian charts, the band decided to spend a period in Belgium from January 22nd to 24th 1972 to promoter the album. This was the first time Genesis had performed outside the shores of the UK and during their short time there , Genesis performed in Brussels at a festival in Charleroi and played a twenty five minute set for the Belgian TV Series Pop Deux for which they performed Fountain Of Salmacis, Twilight Alehouse, Musical Box and The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. This performance was eventually broadcast in the UKL in the early 1980’s as part of the Rock of The Seventies series.
Genesis returned to England at the end of January to continue the tight schedule of dates that they had started doing before the Belgian trip. Mainly playing college clubs and the major university circuit around the south of England. One memorable performance was on 2nd March 1972 when they played at the BBC’s Paris Studios in London. This show has only recently been re-broadcast at the unearthly hour of 1AM on a Sunday morning so, if any of you missed it, you missed something really special. The band only performed three songs; The Fountain of Salmacis, Musical Box and The Return Of The Giant Hogweed but this recording captures the band at their very best including one of Peter’s unusual stories in the build up to Musical Box. A previous broadcast of the recording was bootlegged many years ago and appeared on the bootleg LP “UK Tours 1971 -73” as the first side minus the words “live in Paris Studios”.
Around the same time, Genesis were breaking big in Belgium, news came from Italy that Nursery Cryme had reached number four in their album charts. Little did the band know what would be in store for them when they toured there in April 1972. These Italian concerts really became something special for the band as a number of classic tunes which would later surface on their next studio album were written and performed for the first time whilst on this tour. The anthem, Watcher of The Skies was written whilst the band were in Naples and performed in its demo format during the rehearsal at Reggio Emilia Palasport on 12th April. Also a SLIGHTLY different version of Can-Utility & The Coastliners was performed live for the very first time in front of an audience at the Pavia show on April 14th (this demo version eventually surfaced on a 7” bootleg Genesis single called Flaming Mouth where it was introduced by Gabriel as Bye Bye Johnny - AH).
Whilst in Italy Genesis played eighteen concerts during the period 6th to 19th April. They frequently performed two shows a day at some venues and in front of several thousand fans. At the Piper 2000 Club in Viareggio (which was also filmed for Italian TV) they were reported to have played in front of 20,000 people an incredible feat when you consider that in England, the group’s own home country, the album Nursery Cryme was virtually ignored and they were still playing some gigs to a handful of people in ther audience!
In Italy Happy The Man, a song which would soon be released as a single in England as well as in Italy, replaced Harlequin as the opening number in the live set. The rest of the set on the whole running (except as where mentioned in previous paragraphs) as follows: Happy The Man/Stagnation/Fountain Of Salmacis/Twilight Alehouse/Musical Box/The Return Of The Giant Hogweed/ The Knife.
A month after these highly successful concerts, Genesis were booked to play at the Great Western Express Rock Festival in Lincoln on 28th May. They took this opportunity to premier Watcher of The Skies with the track sung in a slightly different key to that which would later appear on vinyl and it was this number which opened the show which culminated with The Knife. To many people this was the start of Peter Gabriel’s strange stage act, and it was the first time that he appeared on stage with the front part of his head shaved.
During the first week of June, Charisma Records decided to release Happy The Man as a single in England. The catalogue number was CB181 and the song Seven Stones provided the B side. The single also appeared in Italy with the same B side but on a different label; Phillips with the catalogue number 6073 316. Both the UK and Italian singles appeared in slightly different picture sleeves.
On 26th June Genesis headed over the Channel to play a concert in Paris as part of a Charisma Package concert which also featured Van Der Graaf Generator and Lindisfarne. The concert took place at the Olympia Theatre with Genesis opening the show. The critics loved Genesis and rated their show much higher than the other two acts who were on the bill. Two days after the Paris show, David Stopps, from the Friars Club in Aylesbury and a stalwart of the early Genesis days arranged a special Genesis convention day at Watford Town Hall. The band once again gave a memorable performance starting with what was by now, the standard Genesis classic opening song: Watcher of The Skies. It is interesting to note that a thousand Genesis rosettes were thrown into the audience during the show.
After the success of the Italian tour in April, Genesis decided to do a second tour there and this second Italian tour ran from 16th to 24th August plus one solo show at the Palasport in Rome on September 8th. Once again the band played in front of large audiences often performing two shows a day. Genesis used these gigs to road test new tracks such as Get ‘Em Out By Friday for the first time on stage as well as some surprises such as Harold The Barrel and Seven Stones making what would be their last appearances in a Genesis set. Along with these, other new tracks including Watcher Of The Skies, Can-Utility & The Coastliners were included along with Fountain Of Salmacis, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed and The Knife.
During September at Island Studios in London the finishing touches were being put to the next Genesis album: Foxtrot. A collection of songs the band had been working on for the previous year. From the rousing opening number and already firm favourite with the fans; Watcher Of The Skies, through to the brilliantly written Get ‘Em Out By Friday and the beautiful piano playing on Time Table. The band, the fans and the critics alike must have realised that something special was beginning to happen.
With Can-Utility & The Coastliners nicely bringing side one to a close, Steve Hackett was left to open up side two with an excellent acoustic piece of his own called Horizons. However, it was the final track on Foxtrot that really became the high point of Genesis’ career to that point: Supper’s Ready. This was a collection of short pieces of music put together to form a twenty four minute epic in musical and writing ability. Foxtrot was easily the strongest album the band had written and at last the people in England began to take notice of the band’s ability to write and perform outstanding pieces of music. The album was finally released in October getting rave reviews from the music press.
If Genesis were ever going to reach the big time this would be the album that would give them the step they already knew they needed to reach it. Soon after its release, Foxtrot made it to the number twelve position in the UK charts, the highest position an album by the had reached in the UK. The production on the album was once again carried out by John Anthony and the cover design was by Paul Whitehead.
During the period from September to the beginning of December, Genesis toured almost constantly up and down the UK to promote the new album. On September 28th Peter Gabriel wore the foxhead and red dress on stage for the first time during the performance of Musical Box at their debut gig in Ireland at the National Boxing Stadium. It wasn’t until the band reached Brunel University in Uxbridge in November that they finally performed Supper’s Ready for the first time.
By now the band were getting noticed by more and more people. Even so, during this lengthy tour of the UK there were still a number of concerts that were poorly attended. Only approximately thirty people saw them at the Wake Arms in Epping on November 5th for instance. Maybe the rest were at a bonfire party somewhere?!
|December 12th was a special date for Genesis, as they were booked to play their first concerts in America, at New York’s prestigious Philharmonic Hall as part of the annual charitable fundraiser for the United Cerebral Palsy Fund. The day before this show, Genesis played a warm-up gig at Brandeis University in Boston to a handful of students. But when the big day arrived, the band weren’t able to use the Hall until after 4 pm giving them little time to do a proper sound check. By the time that their support act; String Driven Thing had finished their short set, the stage was altered and the lights dimmed to the haunting sound of Tony Banks’ Mellotron opening to Watcher Of The Skies. The concert was by no means one of Genesis’ best as the gaps between the songs began to get longer and longer and the buzzes on the instruments louder and louder all of this due to lack of rehearsal time earlier and technical problems with the electronic cycle used in the USA.|
After the gig, Mike was so upset that he threw his guitar on the dressing room floor and even Tony Banks admitted that it was the worst concert that the band had done to that date. Even if the band were dissatisfied with the performance on the night, the critics and the three thousand fans who were there, loved it and shouted them back for an encore.