"A Windy & Wuthering Night In Birmingham" - Genesis in concert at the Odeon Theatre Birmingham Saturday 8th January 1977. Review by Kevin Powell.
After experiencing The Lamb… concert two years previously; I wondered what sort of performance to expect from the Gabriel-less band. I had obviously seen the reviews from the previous summer's shows at Bingley Hall; Hammersmith etc but had been unable to get to any of those shows myself.
|Upon entering the theatre, the first difference from the Lamb… shows was obvious; the instruments and gear; all of which were clearly in view - no curtains to hide them when the lights went down and the band appeared on stage. The main difference was very obvious: Phil Collins out front taking the lead vocals for Squonk. Steve Hackett actually STANDING up and rocking along evidently enjoying himself. The new member; Chester Thompson seemed to adapt to his role quickly and the whole band seemed very relaxed.|
You will have to excuse any memory lapses of mine in terms of the running order of the songs; I haven't got a tape of the show, so please bear with me. After the opener, the band performed Eleventh Earl Of Mar; Carpet Crawlers and then another first for Genesis; Mike Rutherford, with his newly acquired beard; stepped forward to introduce; "just a very simple love song; Your Own Special Way". After this surprise, another followed; Mr Hackett announcing "a song about a river: the river of life; Firth Of Fifth". Here the band really took off for the first time; the brilliant drumming partnership of Collins/Thompson during the long instrumental section; and Tony and Steve have never sounded better.
Next (I think) came the only real "costumed" role for Phil Collins: Robbery, Assault & Battery where he donned a cap, scarf and frock-coat during the song introduction and made references to robbing the safe at Birmingham's Longbridge car plant! Following this came one of the highlights of the show for me; Tony Banks's wonderful One For The Vine complete with its many mood changes and featuring some dramatic lighting; especially after the gentle "He walked into a valley …" section, the song suddenly burst into the upbeat keyboard section with flowing hi-hat from Collins and suddenly there are green lasers bouncing off the walls and ceiling of the theatre making amazing shapes and patterns. At the end of this section, Collins came from behind his drum kit to sing; "He travelled across the plateau…" but somehow tripped over some wires and nearly went base over apex much to the amusement of the crowd!
All In A Mouse's Night followed and this featured a lovely effect at the end of the song with a huge rainbow being created at the back of the stage. A rather jazzy and unusual intro began for I Know What I Like and it took me several seconds to realise which song it was; but it had the audience singing along. Only now did Phil perform his much-loved tambourine tarantella; bashing it about on various parts of his body - no doubt getting quite a few bruises along the way. Then at the finish of the song he held the tambourine as if he was pushing a lawnmower and moved horizontally across the stage six or seven times; getting lower and lower down each time with the lights coming down closing the song.
One of my all-time favourite Genesis tunes followed; Afterglow, this was the first time I had seen the Boeing 747 landing lights used to such dramatic effect at the climax. It still sticks in my mind as one of the great Genesis pieces. However, if that was special; what followed was absolutely mind-blowing: the epic Supper's Ready. The parts I particularly remember were; Willow Farm where upon the line "A flower?" two huge sunflowers appeared at each side of the stage like a couple of demented Jack-in-the boxes and shook and swayed throughout the song. After the humour of this piece came the intensity and power of the Apocalypse in 9/8. Again the lasers were used to build up a stunning theatrical effect. During the "Six, Six, Six" vocals, Phil stood at the back of the stage dressed in a white smock and trousers and a bright white light was shone on him causing a huge silhouette to appear behind him to symbolise the evil of the piece. Then came the final "And it's hey babe…" the band were bathed in a sea of colours and dry ice before the song died away and the crowd were on their feet with tremendous applause for at least two minutes.
Dance On A Volcano and Los Endos closed the show proper, with the beginning of the now legendary drum duet between Collins and Thompson sandwiched in between the two. More tumultuous applause followed and then the band appeared for the encore. There was a rush to the front; myself included; as the piano introduction to the mighty Lamb… began. Collins, now wearing a blue and white hooped sweatshirt (a QPR top?) . Unfortunately it is one of the songs that I don't think he can carry off that well - I missed Gabriel's power here. However, that didn't detract from my enjoyment; everyone was bopping up and down and punching the air.
The Lamb… song gradually slowed down and mingled into the closing bars of the classic Musical Box. Everyone was joining in with the "Now, now, now" vocals and we were all going bananas. In fact, of all the Genesis shows over the years (and I have attended several at various points) I would say that the audience here were the most enthusiastic.
I left the theatre very happy - the band had convinced me that they were still something special despite the loss of Gabriel. A very different show to The Lamb… but just as entertaining!