“Six Of The Best” - The Genesis reunion gig with Peter Gabriel at Milton Keynes Concert Bowl Saturday 2nd October 1982. Review by Marc Gottschalk. Photographs by A Perry/R Ellis. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
The announcement said that Peter Gabriel was playing with Genesis. Would Steve Hackett come out as well? Would they play the entire Lamb…?Or still older material? The news of the concert sent ripples (!) of excitement across the world and by the evening of October 2nd the concert Bowl at Milton Keynes was packed with over 50,000 of the most faithful (and resilient ) fans. It had rained steadily all day as the bowl had filled with those who had made the pilgrimage. John Martyn turned in a moody and powerful performance that went well with the dreary weather. The Blues Band and Talk Talk seemed out of place and did little to warm the crowd. The weather tested the mettle of even the hardiest zealot and as the daylight faded all crowed closer to the stage sharing body heat and electric anticipation.
Soon the pounding bass of Back In NYC rang out from behind the curtain covering the stage and to a mighty cheer from the audience Peter Gabriel was carried on stage in a white coffin. The pallbearers dressed in white tuxedos with black gloves. As the coffin was gently lowered to the ground, Gabriel as Rael sprang out menacingly stalking across the stage.
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight followed and then the Carpet Crawlers with the crowd singing along. The faithful take the opportunity to sing “happy birthday” to Mike whose birthday it is. After some explanatory blurb by Gabriel we are led into “fish farming, yesterday, and today. Straight from the age of aquarium… Firth Of Fifth”. The band are playing well and getting stronger with every song. Gabriel misses a line here and there but he is growing more confident and obviously enjoying himself. Occasionally he grins as if it is all coming back. And it DOES and he and the band seem to catch their stride together. Phil Collins and Chester Thompson side by side on the drums - the power of this Genesis is awesome.
Gabriel leads us through th e extended fantasy of \Musical Box including the story of Henry and Cynthia. In a flash we are transported back to 18972 as Gabriel, an apparition cloaked in ghostly blue light hunched over the microphone stand now acting as a walking cane, he wears the mask of the old man. Gabriel carries the song through its changes, seeming to grow older and older until finally he falls and dies. The music melts away.
It is fitting that the next song is Solsbury Hill, the only song from Gabriel’s solo period and an ode to his departure from Genesis. Tony plays twelve string on this one. Peter then introduces a “young drummer, who I am sure you are all going to love: Mr Phil Collins” and as Phil steps forward, we are led into the only post-Gabriel era Genesis song: Turn It On Again and featuring for the first time on drums Mr Peter Gabriel! Until half way through the song when Phil kicks him off and takes over. Undaunted however, Peter heads for a solitary set of tom toms and rejoins the fray and the fans approve with a roar.
Another extended fantasy sequence involving Ronaldo, his dog and a taxidermist
leads us into The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway followed by Fly On A Windshield,
Broadway Melody of 1974 and In The Cage. The lights seem to solidify into bars
encircling the band, swaying back and forth with the music moving in to surround
Gabriel. The music is performed with an excitement and urgency born of years
of patience and inspiration. A fan nearby holds up a sign which reads: “It’s
been a long time, hasn’t it?” Tonight it seems as if those years
Peter changes into a frilly white shirt and resumes his story of the girl in the tube train leading into the inevitable Supper’s Ready. This classic Genesis opus comprising almost the entire second side of the Foxtrot album was played with a vengeance. The music, lights and dancing fusing electrically with Gabriel’s performance. The white shirt and gloves glimmering colour with every movement. His voice dripping emotion on every line, powering the lyrics of this apocalyptic love song. He disappears only to return wearing the famous flower headpiece; “A flower!” cry the faithful and he launches into Willow Farm. His face is transformed as it is lit by blue and grey lights from above into something demonic as he sings “the guards of Magog swarming around…” He leads the band to a stunning finish, his voice seeming stronger now than even on the album now ten years old. The band take their bows and leave the stage (strange to note but Supper’s Ready was the only time all day that it stopped raining - coincidence or what? AH)
The band had scarcely begun their first encore when Steve Hackett suddenly appeared. Grinning from ear to ear, he plugged in his black Ovation guitar to a deafening roar of recognition from the crowd. The song is I Know What I Like and Hackett’s shading and technique add an immeasurable quality to the music. What ensues is a twenty minute Genesis jam , Gabriel and Collins together at the front microphone, Hackett filling the final gap in the trademark Genesis sound, trading licks with Daryl Stuermer. Genesis is whole once again!
It is a celebration! They all return for one final encore - The Knife. This rocker from the Trespass album nearly twelve years old at the time (nearly twenty years old now!) has the crowd jumping up and down shouting themselves hoarse. The musicians jam it up a little bit, then suddenly it is all over. The lights go down and the band come out to say goodbye wearing the red plastic noses Steve Hackett used on his latest tour. Peter Gabriel thanks us all for staying and hurls his tambourine into the crowd and Genesis yesterday and today, walk off arm in arm. We slog our way out through the mud, ecstatic, chilled and thrilled to the quick. They remain seven of the best. Together they ARE the best. Surely the legend will continue…?