On July 20, 1973 "Genesis" released it's first live album, simply called "Genesis Live".
"Genesis Live" is a mesmerizing testament to the progressive rock prowess of "Genesis", capturing the essence of their captivating live performances during their early 1970s heyday. Recorded during their tour supporting the album "Foxtrot", the live album, this album perfectly showcases the band's musical virtuosity, imaginative storytelling, and theatrical stage presence that established them as one of the leading forces in the progressive rock movement.
Initially intended for radio broadcast on the American show "King Biscuit Flower Hour", the album was put together using recordings from two shows: one at "De Montfort Hall" in Leicester and the other at the "Free Trade Hall" in Manchester. The decision to release "Genesis Live" as a budget-priced title was to fill the gap while the band was busy recording "Selling England By The Pound".
Despite some initial reluctance from lead singer Peter Gabriel, who felt the album was quickly put together and didn't represent their best work, it became the band's first album to break into the top 10 in the UK, reaching No. 9. However, its US release came after "Selling England By The Pound", which frustrated Gabriel as it included older live material.
The album features five tracks: "The Knife" from "Trespass", "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed" and "The Musical Box" from "Nursery Cryme", and "Watcher Of The Skies" and "Get ‘Em Out By Friday" from "Foxtrot". Each track showcases the band's musical brilliance and Peter Gabriel's captivating vocal performances.
The album kicks off with "Watcher of the Skies", a track that immediately sets the tone for the entire live experience. Its ethereal keyboard intro, courtesy of the talented Tony Banks, draws listeners into a world of mystique and wonder, while Peter Gabriel's haunting vocals add an otherworldly dimension to the song. The intricate interplay between Steve Hackett's soaring guitar solos and Mike Rutherford's solid bass lines provides a strong foundation for the track's dynamic shifts, showcasing the band's ability to seamlessly transition from gentle melodic passages to more intense, energetic sections.
"Get ‘Em Out By Friday" may not reach the same heights as the previous track, but it still delivers compelling performances and highlight the band's theatrical flair, demonstrating the band's ability to blend complex musical arrangements with thought-provoking and imaginative lyrics. This track showcases the band's ability to combine disparate elements seamlessly, effortlessly transitioning between rock, folk, and classical influences, within the same song.
With "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed" the band picks up intensity with a powerful performance, much heavier and more dynamic than the studio version of the song, proving the great stage presence of the new lineup.
"The Musical Box" is another standout track, considered one of the best compositions by "Genesis". A mesmerizing journey through time and space. Clocking in at over ten minutes, this song highlights the band's penchant for crafting elaborate, multi-part epics. Gabriel's storytelling ability shines through in the vividly evocative lyrics, painting a vivid picture of the song's unsettling narrative. The instrumental prowess of each band member is on full display here, creating a sonic tapestry that keeps the listener fully engaged from start to finish. No wonder It's a fan favorite, since here too the live version is far superior to the studio version, even though at parts when Rutherford comes in with his rhythm guitar, the sound is a bit lacking bass.
In our opinion, the band saved the best to last with the closing track "The Knife" taken from "Trespass". This live version of the song stands out as the highlight of the album, featuring significant rearrangements, with a brilliant dynamic and powerful performance that showcases the influence of the new band members, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins.
It's interesting to note that the original test pressings included a 23-minute version of "Supper's Ready" from the Leicester show, but it was omitted from the official release, even though the album's front cover photograph was taken during a live performance of the song (with Gabriel donning the "Magog" mask). A live recording of "Supper's Ready" from that same year was released on 1998's 4-CD boxed set, "Genesis Archive 1967–75". The decision to leave it out was due to the economic challenge of issuing a three-sided double-LP.
In conclusion, "Genesis Live" is a must-listen for any "Genesis" enthusiast, especially those who cherish the Gabriel-era. This timeless classic captures a pivotal moment in the band's history and showcases the intensity and brilliance of their live performances, easily surpassing their studio recordings. As the only official live release with Peter Gabriel in the band until "Genesis Archive 1967-75," this album solidifies Genesis' reputation as an extraordinary live band.