Genesis Six Of The Best: Rehearsals & Live (Hammersmith, September 1982 & Milton Keynes, October 1982)
There are many and various reasons why rock bands hold reunions. Most common is for nostalgia, the need to revisit past glories for contemporary fans and for the pocket book. Others are held for charitable reasons. Such was the case for the Six Of The Best show in 1982.
Careful not to call it a Genesis reunion for legal and speculative reasons, it is to date the only time Peter Gabriel played with Genesis for a full-length concert since his departure in 1975 (Gabriel did join the band for “I Know What I Like” in New York in July 1978).
The cause was quite worthy. Gabriel, in his attempt to introduce and preserve the heritage of world music and to find such interesting acts a new audience, had invested quite a lot of time and money into the World Of Music And Dance (WOMAD) festival at Shepton Mallot on July 16th.
Unfortunately, his ideals were higher than his business sense and didn’t count on acts such as La Place De La Concorde, OK Jive and The Drummers Of Burundi to not draw a sizable audience.
Not even Simple Minds, Echo & The Bunnymen, The English Beat or a scintillating set by himself was able save the festival from insolvency.
Genesis were still on the Encore tour, their biggest yet, and offered to donate proceeds from one of their shows for his cause. Instead of accepting charity from his old mates, Gabriel decided instead to schedule the one-off reunion to raise funds. Unfortunately the show wasn’t professionally recorded (as far as we know), but there were several enterprising audience members to capture the event for posterity.
In 2009 a soundboard recording of the rehearsal surfaced and was quickly pressed onto silver disc. Six Of The Best: Rehearsals & Live on Virtuoso is a four disc set presenting both tapes in one convenient package. This is the first time the reunion concert has been issued on silver disc in almost fifteen years and it receives a welcome overhaul in a definitive package.
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – September 29th, 1982
Disc 1 (46:49): Back In NYC, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (Take 1), Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (Take 2), The Carpet Crawlers, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, Broadway Melody Of 1974
Disc 2 (47:39): In The Cage (Take 1), In The Cage (Take 2), Supper’s Ready, The Knife, Solsbury Hill (Take 1), Solsbury Hill (Take 2), Solsbury Hill (Take 3)
The only rehearsal for the event occurred on the afternoon of Genesis’ September 29th show at the Hammersmith Odeon, the penultimate show on the Encore tour which was recently released on Man On The Hammersmith (Virtuoso 137/138). The ninety minute soundboard recording was first pressed on All The Help I Can Get (GR 458/459). The sound quality of the Virtuoso doesn’t differ significantly from the Godfather release.
A very clear but unbalanced recording, it clearly illustrates the band resurrecting the older numbers for the reunion show. Several of the old songs like “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,” “I Know What I Like,” “In The Cage” and the epic “Supper’s Ready” are already well rehearsed because they were already part of Genesis’ live act.
But the other numbers require much more work. Gabriel has to practice the opening to “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” several times before getting right. They choose to play the opening of the song as an introduction to “Carpet Crawlers,” the same arrangement Genesis employed on the Duke tour in 1980.
“Firth Of Fifth” was part of the set as recently as the Duke tour, but “The Musical Box” hadn’t been played in its entirety since 1974 (only the fast paced instrumental was played in medley). Collins and Gabriel try to sing the first verse of “The Musical Box” in union but quickly drop the idea. Gabriel’s flute out of tune in the beginning of “The Musical Box.”
“In The Cage” is cooking along until a key change is missed and they have to start again. Most work goes into Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.” It’s interesting hearing him teach the band how to play and to work on the Genesis arrangement of one of his most famous solo works. Cliff, in his review of the Godfather release two years ago, opined that there must have been much more to the rehearsal since “Turn It On Again” must have been rehearsed. Nothing new has surfaced since, so this is probably all we’ll get to hear from the rehearsal session.
Six of The Best Reunion Show, Concert Bowl, Milton Keynes, England – October 2nd, 1982
Disc 3 (72:49): Introduction by Jonathan King, Back In NYC, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, The Carpet Crawlers, Peter Gabriel MC, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box, Solsbury Hill, Member Introduction, Turn It On Again, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On A Windshield, 1974 Broadway Melody, In The Cage
Disc 4 (47:25): Introduction Of Supper’s Ready, Supper’s Ready, I Know What I Like (with Steve Hackett), The Knife (with Steve Hackett), Closing Words
For such an important show in Genesis’ history, there have been very few pressed versions available. The first was The Lamb Woke Up Again (Stonehenge STCD 2008/2009) which contains the entire show plus the three song encore from Steve Hackett’s January 29th, 1983 show in Guildford where Peter Gabriel and Michael Rutherford joined him onstage for the encores. In the late nineties Highland released Six Of The Best (Highland HL 388/389) using a fair to good tape.
Since then several more audience tapes have been uncovered. Arguably, the best version was on the fan produced Live In Milton Keynes (TM Productions) and was commercially available on the CDR Emotional Reunion (Amity 106). It is a very clear and enjoyable audience tape of the entire concert. It also picks up nicely the sound of 60,000 punters singing along to the music and singing “Happy Birthday” to Michael Rutherford.
Genesis’ first manager Jonathan King gives some introductory words, speaking about how they formed sixteen years ago, before the band start with the thumping rhythms of “Back In NYC.” Six pallbearers carry a coffin onstage while the band extend the intro. After placing the coffin onstage, it opens and out comes Peter Gabriel dressed in Rael costume. The opening lines are muffled due to a faulty lead, but it clears up nicely and the show gets off to a wonderful start.
After a pause, Gabriel sings the opening to “Dancing With A Moonlit Knight” which segues directly into “Carpet Crawlers.” Collins joins in on the verses like in the old days, but it is Gabriel’s mesmerizing performance that carries the tune.
“Some of you may be wondering what we’re doing here.” The audience replies “NOOOOOOOOO” in unison. Gabriel continues anyway to talk about WOMAD, its financial woes, and to tell the audience they will play a selection they think they would like to hear. ”Firth Of Fifth” follows (with Darryl Steurmer playing the solo).
“The Musical Box” is a bit sloppy with Steurmer being the main culprit. He doesn’t know the guitar embellishments during the opening verses and makes up his own which sound strange. He’s much more confident during the heavy instrumental, however, since it has been part of the set.
The middle part of the show is a trade off. They play “Solsbury Hill” from Gabriel’s first album. And, after the band introductions, Gabriel and Collins switch places. Collins takes over vocal and Gabriel plays drums for “Turn It On Again” from Duke. Of course Chester Thompson handles the tricky time signatures, but it’s all in good fun and the symbolism is very fitting.
Gabriel then mentions they rehearsed in Hammersmith for the show and starts telling the train story from Genesis Live. He stops and jokes “the only thing we didn’t rehearse were the stories and that is the wrong story.” He then tells another story as an intro to “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.” They play all of the first side of the first LP except “Cuckoo Cocoon” after “Broadway Melody Of 1974″ and “The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging” after “In The Cage.”
Afterwards Gabriel tells the tube story again as an introduction to “Supper’s Ready.” It’s very tight since they’ve been playing it on tour. Gabriel dons his flower costume to the approval of the audience.
Steve Hackett comes onstage for the final two numbers. ”I Know What I Like” features Collins playing his tambourine games, and “The Knife” is very short and powerful. Gabriel afterwards thanks everyone for coming and Collins wishes everyone a good night.
While this isn’t the greatest Genesis concert it is historically important. Thirty years on it is the final time Gabriel sang for Genesis in concert and, after the aborted plan for him to rejoin Genesis on their reunion in 2007, probably will remain so. There are many musical mistakes and miscues, but the emotion is right and is fun to listen to. Virtuoso did a good job bringing these two tapes together into one convenient package. Until a soundboard and / or video of the show surfaces, Six Of The Best: Rehearsals & Live will be the definitive silver title.