"We Can’t Dance (But We Sure Can Put On A Show!)" - Genesis in concert at Roundhay Park Leeds and Knebworth Park Stevenage 31st July and 2nd August 1992. Review by Alan Hewitt. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
Well, before I go on to the review proper, I’d better own up and admit that just recently I had begun to sound like a reporter for the NME and had taken to savaging the band. To my great relief, I am now awaiting my first servings of humble pie!
The saga began on 26th July when I was doing my usual job of roving eye reporter for TWR at the show in Basle Switzerland. That was only a re-affirmation of what I had already begun to suspect that I had got it completely WRONG!
Travelling to Leeds on a bright sunny Friday, I was beginning to feel the familiar twinges in the pit of my stomach as the prospect of Genesis’ first concert in the UK began to sink in. Myself and a couple of friends met up with some of our longstanding maniacs at a pub near to Roundhay Park and after chewing the fat and reminiscing for a couple of hours, and a few beers, I was really looking forward to the show as memories of their last performance at Roundhay in 1987 came flooding back.
Arriving at the Park which was already over half full we inspected the merchandise stall sand made our purchases before finding a suitable position from where to view the show that would shortly unfold in front of us. Runrig and Lisa Stansfield came and went with scarcely a ripple from the audience, which was charged up with expectation and at 8.20 pm on came Genesis to a tumultuous welcome from the capacity crowd.
The set opened with Land Of Confusion, which when I heard the initial reports about the show seemed an odd choice of set opener but when it is there in front of you, the logic of it seems infallible. Right from the start, two things were noticeable: first the absence of the usual stage canopy with the band instead being enclosed by what looked like a Perspex igloo with the PA further apart than normal and lights strung out at the side of the stage and on wires suspended across the stage. First impressions would leave many asking the question where was the rest of the stage? The second noticeable thing was the sound; not only was it louder than normal but also CLEARER with no distortion at all.
Having warmed everybody up with the opener, the band followed it up with the first single from the new album: No Son Of Mine, which is where the other addition to the show came into its own for the first time, the three huge Jumbotron screens which began the song with the images of a ticking clock to the metronomic opening chords of the song. With the new album I was a bit dubious as to how some of the new songs would come across live but I was soon left with no doubts as this blistering track blew any remaining doubts away.
Owning up time again! I had said in my review of the album that I didn’t like Driving The Last Spike, much to the chagrin of several readers. OK, so I was wrong AGAIN! This for me, was one of the highlights in a show packed with them. The only problem with this song was that Mike who appeared to be having some problems with his guitar at the start. The combination of superb sound and video images portraying the story of the early railway pioneers worked to perfection and the video screens moving to combine in one image ensured that even the “little people” at the back of the park had an excellent view of the proceedings.
Then it was time to take a little trip back into the “dark, dank Seventies” with a medley that comprised several Genesis classics, opening with Dance On A Volcano, which elicited a full-throated roar of approval from the faithful and the video images of a fireball suitably matched the explosive nature of the music itself. This was followed by The Lamb.. And Firth Of Fifth in which Daryl’s guitar work was extremely impressive as was Tony’s keyboard playing, and for the first time ever at a Genesis concert, I could actually SEE Tony’s cross hand technique on the former. An ecstatic crowd was taken even higher by The Musical Box and a brilliant version of I Know What I Like including the tambourine tarantella by Phil which really brought the memories flooding back for me. The second half of the medley was for me the only weak spot of the show, incorporating rather lacklustre renditions of Illegal Alien, That’s All and Follow You Follow Me along with glimpses of Your Own Special Way and Stagnation, but these were all too brief to be really noticeable to most of the predominantly young crowd.
Once again Phil, the consummate showman gave us a chanced to regain our breath as the band gave us a workmanlike version of Throwing It All Away, with singalong chorus a-la Freddie Mercury, which raised a laugh from the crowd. Fading Lights was the next track, and by now it was sufficiently dark for the video screens to come into their own as they moved centre stage to project symmetrical pictures of stars as the light in the park actually faded as the sun went down. On the album this track was the epitome of all I had come to love about Genesis and live… well all I can say about it was "marvellous"!
High drama then went into high melodrama with a classic Vaudeville performance from Phil as he told us the story of his “divine visitation” before leading us through the highly comical Jesus He Knows Me which blended a marvellous amalgamation of video and theatricals, accompanied by some very accomplished playing by the entire band.
The audience then reached the moment it had been waiting for, by taking part in audience participation time and the high drama of Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea. This piece has been a firm favourite of mine since I first heard the Genesis album and live it has always been spectacular. But there’s spectacular, and there’s SPECTACULAR and this time it was SPECTACULAR, the video images of the bat-infested house full of long shadows, combined with the sheer brilliance of Tony’s keyboards mad this the undoubted winner in the highlight of highlights competition in my opinion.
Heightened tensions were given no release with the next track - Domino - an aural nightmare augmented by stunning visuals reminiscent of Walt Disney’s movie Tron and a real blast from the past as Phil was suspended in the middle of the video screens during part of the song, reminiscent of Peter’s flight during the final stages of Supper’s Ready.
Musicianship took over from high technology for the now legendary five minutes of thunder from Phil and Chester on the drums but sadly not leading into Los Endos which was sadly missing from the show. The show’s finale was as comical as the opening was intriguing. I would never have guessed that the band would end their show with the humour of I Can’t Dance but once again, it worked brilliantly. Phil’s antics checking that everything was “in place” elicited howls of laughter from the crowd and the band themselves really seemed to be enjoying themselves which is a trademark of shows at Roundhay - a special place for the band and the fans alike.
We weren’t kept waiting long for the obligatory encores and these opened with an abridged version of Tonight, Tonight, Tonight which was shortened I assume to prevent a recurrence of Phil’s vocal problems that had dogged several of the early US shows. This was followed by a ful;l-blooded rendition of Invisible Touch which got the audience dancing fit to bust. Finally, Turn It On Again in all of its original 1980 glory and a marvellous performance to boot without the frippery of the Sixties medley, which was wearing a bit thin on the last tour.
Knebworth, two days later was exactly the same show as Leeds but one charged with emotion for me; it was the fourteenth anniversary of the first time I saw the band and I saw the show through a haze of tears. And now, two days later I am still recovering from what was definitely the best show I have seen in at least five years -since Invisible Touch in fact. Ten out of ten on all counts boys, come back soon - we’ll be waiting!!