Look at what I just stumbled across! This was the moment leading up to the moment detailed in this old post, which originally ran on March 7, 2007. Listen to how excited the crowd was. Listen to all those Philly kids with their distinctive shouts of “Yeah!” You cannot, however, hear my friends and I scratching our heads as this went on (and on and on).
With the recent buzz over the reunited Police, it took me a few seconds to register the news that Genesis had announced a reunion tour. If you’re not old enough to remember the band that preceded Mike + the Mechanics, check out this quote from the press release:
“Genesis is absolutely one of the world’s most exciting bands of all time,” said Michael Cohl, tour promoter. “They have always been an amazing concert experience and I’m thrilled that fans will be able to see them perform again live for the first time in 15 years.”
Absolutely! Townsman Andyr and I saw Genesis’ Light Show at the band’s commercial peak, in 1983, at Philadelphia’s long-gone JFK Stadium. We went to see the opening acts, Elvis Costello & the Attractions (hot off the release of Imperial Bedroom) and Blondie before them. JFK was enormous – a bare-bones, old-school oval football stadium that held 100,000. The place dwarfed Blondie, but not so much that we couldn’t clearly see an ongoing hissy fit between keyboardist Jimmy Destri and drummer Clem Burke escalate until Burke took off a cymbal and flung it at Destri, Frisbie style!
Costello was awesome. Of the 5 or 6 shows I’ve seen him perform, this was by far the best. Watching Steve Nieve cover all those keyboard and string parts from his keyboard bunker was a show in itself. This was exactly the point at which I could see Costello and know I’d be getting no stinkers and no mediocre retreads: the mediocre Punch the Clock and the bad and the ugly that would follow were just sparks in their creator’s eye.
Andy and I and maybe one other Costello fan (Fingeroff?) attended this show with another group of friends from our old high school who were there strictly for Genesis. “You’ve gotta see the light show!” they kept saying, whenever our dread of the headliner came up in conversation.
Along with having attended the same high school, the one thing we all had in common was a huge ball of hash and a bag of good weed. The Costello contingent took care to conserve the stash to help tolerate Genesis. The Genesis contingent took care to conserve the stash to better enjoy the light show.
The band came out in their bright pastel suits. The light show surely dazzled the faithful as it reflected off Phil Collins’ pate. The band played “ABACAB” and all the other Collins-era hits of that time. Chester Thompson was a solid drummer, and for one stretch of songs Collins joined him. I think the band played some Gabriel-era songs then, stuff like “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and that post-Gabriel, Gabriel-style song with a nonsense title like “Squonk” or whatever. Musically, I had to hold on for dear life to the fine drumming of both Thompson and Collins, because I hated almost every song they were playing.
Then a quiet song began and our Genesis-loving friends and most of the crowd went into a frenzy. The Costello contingent had no idea what was happening. “‘Supper’s Ready’!” our friends shouted as they gathered around us and offered high fives. I had some major munchies, but I didn’t get what they were talking about.
“‘Supper’s Ready’!” they repeated before explaining that it was the classic era-band’s signature tune. “You guys are gonna love this one! It goes on for a half hour!”
I can still see and hear this friend Nick telling us that. I can still remember the immediate feeling the 3 of us suffering through the Genesis portion of the show felt: We need to finish the hash! We were breaking up the hash over bowls of pot at a furious pace. To fend off this nightmare of a prog-rock epic and light show I wished I’d been under glass. If the song went on for 20 or 30 minutes it seemed like an hour. No matter how much we smoked, it felt like we couldn’t get high. Our Genesis-loving friends were higher than the Himalayas, but for us, Genesis playing “Supper’s Ready” live was the ultimate buzzkill, worse than thinking of Cagney & Lacey while in the middle of making love.
So there you go. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see Genesis “Turn it On Again.”