Genesis this weekend. Although directions changed and they achieved a large mainstream following after the departure of founding member and singer Peter Gabriel, many fans still consider this incarnation of Genesis the memorable period for the band, and everything that came after Peter Gabriel just wasn’t the same.
And even though Peter Gabriel has gone on to a successful solo career, and Genesis went through a few more personnel changes before calling it a day, there were rumors floating around recently that a Genesis reunion, complete with Peter Gabriel, had been in the cards since 2015. But with fits and starts and issues, a reunion, at least with the original, or at least the 1971-1975 lineup, seems possible, not likely and a good idea – depending on who you talk to and what time of day you talk to them.
But that doesn’t stop fans from reliving the great period for the band by way of concerts like these, recorded in Montreal on April 21, 1974. It comes right around the time after the release of Selling England By The Pound (October 1973), the album which would establish the band in the U.S. – and just ahead of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (November 1974), the magnum opus which would be Peter Gabriel’s last album with the band.
Founding member and lead singer Peter Gabriel decided to leave Genesis in late 1974, midway through the tour for the album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The other members hoped he would reconsider, as they were still in debt and felt his departure could destroy the band’s future, but ultimately accepted that he would leave. The remaining members felt they still wanted to collaborate musically, and show journalists and critics they were primarily a song writing team that could still produce good music. Keyboardist Tony Banks had been close to Gabriel personally, and did not want the band to split up on top of seeing less of one of his best friends. He had written a number of songs for a possible solo project before deciding they should be used on the new Genesis album.
Following the end of the tour, guitarist Steve Hackett recorded a solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte with guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford and drummer Phil Collins, feeling unsure that Genesis would survive. He reconvened with the remaining group members in July 1975. Banks and Rutherford were particularly keen to write and record new material so that critics and fans would accept Gabriel’s departure. The group began rehearsals in a basement studio in Acton, and quickly wrote material they were happy with, but had not yet found a replacement lead singer. They placed an anonymous advertisement in the music paper Melody Maker for “a singer for a Genesis-type group”, which received around 400 replies. Some applicants sent photographs of themselves in costume and wearing masks, as Gabriel had done on stage. A few weeks into rehearsals, Melody Maker managed to find out about Gabriel leaving the band, and their story made the front page of the 16 August issue, where journalist Chris Welch declared Genesis dead. The group spoke to the music papers to deny they were splitting up and explaining they had an album finished and waiting to be recorded.
So as a reminder of what many consider to be the Golden Era of Genesis, here is that concert from Montreal, broadcast over the local FM outlet there in 1974.