PART TWO: "A Trip Down Memory Lane" - Some recollections of The Lamb… tour from both sides of the stage.
"Extract from The Insane Ramblings of an old Genesis roadie" Just one extract from the marvellous reminiscences of The Lamb… tour by David Lawrence.
For those of you who might not have seen it, the following is part of a wonderful article written by David for TWR and published in our "Special Lamb Edition" back in TWR #43. David was chief projectionist for The Lamb… US tours of 1974 and 1975 and also for the first leg of the European tour. David shared many priceless anecdotes with us for that feature, I have selected one here that gives a general idea of the goings on behind the scenes of a tour…
February 5th was a cold, dark Saturday morning when we left London in another coach bound for Oslo in Norway. This coach had no toilet, fridge or bunks and was not going to be a picnic. We went via Newcastle to catch the ferry along with two trucks of equipment. The next few days were going to be our darkest hours; one of the trucks never made it that far! The ferry went through some very rough weather and the cabins we had were small and had no windows and were smelly; next to the engine room and each one had four bunks. After about five hours in them, everybody gave up trying to sleep and went to kip down in the bar instead! This led to the start of many arguments with officials over the next three months. When we reached Oslo it was in deep snow. The coach had almost frozen up and it was too big to go in the hold of the ferry and so it was on deck for almost two days.
The American tour had lasted three months and for the most of it, all went well; no language problems apart from a slow Texan drawl from the Showco crew. Europe was going to be hard work; we found that trying to talk to the local crew in concert halls became very tiring and frustrating. None of us could speak Portuguese; German; Dutch or Spanish; just a bit of schoolboy French which was not good enough.
In Oslo the night before the first show of the European tour, one of the trucks broke down, just ten miles outside of the town. Nick Blyth, the head of the road crew woke everyone up at about 2am and dragged them out of the hotel. The truck that had broken down was stuck at the top of a big hill in the snow with its brakes locked on and its engine dead. The only option was to unload all of the equipment into another truck and then take it to the concert hall. Sounds OK when you say it like that; but the only truck we had was full of lighting equipment, so we managed to wake up the concert hall caretaker who let us in and unloaded all ten tons of gear quickly into the hall and then drive the now empty truck out to the broken down one. But we had no transport for the crew. Luckily for us, some fans of the band were waiting outside in the cold hoping for a glimpse of the band. We persuaded several of them that if they gave the crew lifts in their cars to the broken down truck; they might get some tickets for the show. We all jumped into their cars and sped off, and were given a demonstration of hand brake turns in the snow at the same time.
Those fans saved the day for us and helped us unload tons of gear. When we got to the broken down truck it was in a very sad state and the spare truck could not go up the steep hill so we spent about four hours in the dark carrying and pushing about eighty flight cases of gear down the snow covered hill. The highlight being for me and four others holding on to Tony's Hammond organ trying to stop it going over the edge of a cliff as it ran away from us. It was eventually stopped by a snowdrift. Back at the concert hall it was non stop to get all the equipment set up and put the show on, nobody having slept for about 24 hours…..
Who said it was a glamorous life in Rock 'n' Roll, eh? My thanks to David for sharing this and many other stories of life on the road during The Lamb… tour with us. Read David's full feature in TWR # 43.
The Final Days Of The Lamb… tour in the UK. Andy Wilkinson remembers the thrill of it all…
This was the BIG NIGHT. Genesis playing the entire Lamb. We had already heard reports from previous gigs that the set was spectacular not to say controversial BUT we were ready for it. The evening was pent up with high tension and a sense of eagerly awaited anticipation and expectation.
The now familiar solo piano opening and out bounces our hero in a guise so totally foreign was this really Peter Gabriel?! Short cropped hair; harsh threatening face make-up; open leather jacket; denim and white trainers. It sure was! A total transformation and we were being taken to the urban streets of NYC and the world of Rael. Later Gabriel spoke to the hall for the first time and related the sequence of Rael's journey which would take him through his first sexual encounter (hilarious) to encounters with all manner of strange and surreal situations.
Next came one of the high points that you just can't adequately put into words. One of those rare moments when sound and visuals meet succinctly together in perfect harmony. The streets portrayed a beating crimson heart gently being shaved by a scalpel-like instrument. This combined with the awesome instrumental of Hairless Heart was spellbindlingly dynamic.
Photos: Copyright David Lawrence. All rights reserved.
To those never experiencing the spinning Lamia spectacle; this was truly awesome. Delicate sounds and the neon blue apparition took your breath away. We were into areas never before witnessed during a rock concert. Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats took us deeper into the "séance" with some particularly powerful and atmospheric moments of sweeping mellotron and guitar passages washing over us in a hypnotic manner. At this point in the performance we were all deeply intoxicated by the surreal sound and images being bombarded at us.
What happened next no one was quite ready for. The strange quirky opening phrase of The Arrival revealed a long transparent plastic tunnel worming its way across the stage. Something was crawling along it. Gasps of sheer astonishment then laughter at the strangest ugliest; lumpiest thing you could ever imagine; emerging as if out of a cocoon. The beast (or Slipperman) proceeds to inflate a giant sized pair of testicles - SURREAL!
No more theatrics after this but a brutally played Riding The Scree and finally It. Gabriel now back in the leather jacket was here, there and everywhere on stage. A blinding explosion and wait… there were TWO Peter Gabriels on stage!!! Which was the REAL one? I couldn't tell.
A cracking show and this time we were treated to The Knife as the second encore replacing Watcher of The Skies. Many folk went home happy. Over two hours of new music never played before this audience but they carried it out with a performance of power; subtlety and dynamism. We were all very much overwhelmed at the complexity of the show which blitzed the senses on all levels. There was just too much to take in. We knew we had witnessed something special: Genesis had reached a pinnacle of genuine rock theatre that had yet to be matched by anyone for audio and visual content to date. And indeed, perhaps never again to be surpassed.
Moving ahead a number of months to August 1975; my girlfriend called with a copy of the Melody Maker and stabbed her finger at the headlines. It read starkly: "Gabriel Quits". I was devastated, and immediately called my friend Malcolm. We were both dumb struck and totally gutted. The MM even had the gall to print an obituary of the band on the inside cover. Malcolm was quick enough to remind me we had therefore seen Gabriel perform with the band for the last four gigs ever in England. Scant consolation in the overall scheme of things.
(For more of Andy's reminiscences of The Lamb… tour read his features
which appear in our "Lamb Special" edition of TWR - # 43)