There are two late-20th century rock bands named Genesis and both of them featured Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks. The second Genesis we know of as one of the biggest-selling bands of all time and authors of such massive hits as “Land of Confusion,” “In Too Deep,” and “Throwing It All Away.” The first we may not know at all, except indirectly by way of its frontman, Peter Gabriel, better known as… solo artist Peter Gabriel.
One reason Genesis, the second, is more famous than its predecessor must be the unabashed pop ambitions of the remaining three members after Gabriel departed in 1975 and pioneering lead guitarist Steve Hackett left in ‘77. Another, related, reason must surely be that Genesis, the first, made music that was not what most people would call accessible, even in the ‘70s, though it is undeniably beautiful and strange. Lovers of the song “Invisible Touch” might find themselves unprepared for “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”
Gabriel, too, went pop in the 80s, though he only got a little less weird. Yet what largely drove the success of his solo career also drove the success of Genesis II: MTV made it impossible to escape “Big Time” and “No Reply at All.” Can we imagine an alternate ‘80s, perhaps, in which Gabriel’s odd-pop leanings and the earnest balladry of Collins & company found a middle ground? That is to say, if Peter Gabriel-era Genesis had made music videos? What too-little visual record we have of the first Genesis looks more and more promising in the YouTube age….
A few years back, we brought you news of a restored Peter Gabriel-era Genesis concert film from a 1973 show at England’s Shepperton Studios. Now, we have, from that same year, the concert above in Paris at the Bataclan in “a 4K restoration that is a stunning improvement over anything seen before,” writes Rolling Stone. “Simply put, it’s the most pristine video of a Peter Gabriel-era show that has ever surfaced.”
This is a good thing for fans of Genesis One. The band played their final album with Gabriel, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, in its entirety on all 104 tour stops two years later. It was “the most elaborate production they’d ever attempted,” and “in a decision they lived to regret, they never bothered to film it.” The Paris concert, if sadly incomplete, may be the closest we’ll get visually to the glorious high weirdness of the original Genesis.