New York Times, April 7, 1973:


A black-clad singer has large batwings on his shoulders; the organ player rumbles along, a mixture of Notre Dame de Paris and Fillmore East; black lighting makes everything luminous violet; flash and flare come from the sides of the stage — theater rock is alive again in New York, delivered by the British group Genesis at Philharmonic Hall on Monday.

Theater rock groups often pay too much attention to externals and not enough to the music. Happily, this is not so with the members of Genesis who are held together firmly by the lead singer Peter Gabriel — articulate, precise, given to mime and accents, show — bizarre and one of the most original artists to come along. The material, such as the tale of the little boy who had his head removed or Old Michael, who uses his bare feet tapping to get earthworms to the surface, is offbeat, to say the least.

Sandy Denny, who is also British and has the classic clarity associated with that country’s best folk artists, opened the concert as a solo. Her closing number, “At the End of the Day” (by which time she had overcome some audience restlessness), was a thing of beauty and a joy that deserved an encore.

by Ian Dove

┬áConcert Reviews in ‘The New York Times’, Dec. 15, 1972:


Two British rock bands performed for the first time in the United States Wednesday night in the Philharmonic Hall, and both of them had something to say. But to call either a “rock” band shows how malleable the term has become, how far the primitive plunkings of the fifties have evolved.

Genesis, the headliner, is a quintet that blends perversely fashionable theatrics with complex, often ingeneous arrangements. The visual focus is Peter Gabriel, the lead singer, who center-parts his hair to the crown of his head, changes costumes frequently (from clinging pants suits to dresses and back again) and is clearly working hard to project an androgynous demonism. He succeeds, especially when helped by fireflash and smoke bombs set off on the beat at the climax of the act.

Mr. Gabriel sings well enough, but musically Genesis is most notable for its hammering, heavy obstinatos and luxurious organ playing. Occasionally things get mired in pretension, or lose their rythmic grip. But the climax worked, and climaxes are what rock is all about.

String Driven Thing, which opened the show, is a relatively new group from Glasgow consisting of a violinist, singer-rythm guitarist, bass guitarist and singer-tambourinist, the last a woman. While Genesis throws everything it can think of into the pot, String Driven Thing makes a persuasively focused effect within and [sic] almost too tightly delineated idiom, the infectious energy of the rythm section set against Graham Smith’s eerie violinistic wailings.

The concert was a benefit for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, presented by WNEW-FM and Charisma Records.

by John Rockwell

Nov. 26, 1973:


Genesis’s program at the Felt Forum on Wednesday opened with the singer Peter Gabriel, menacing in black cloak with bat wings sprouting from his shoulders, intoning a lyric about “Watcher of the Skies.” It ended with a bang as Mr. Gabriel loosed a magnesium flare after two hours of music and theater.

On previous trips to New York, the British group was bedeviled by sound and lighting problems. Now, on its third visit here, Genesis runs the full spectrum, employing back projection, mime costume changes and a little spectacle. Not that Genesis’s music needs any window dressing to disguise any inadequacies: it is not rock perhaps, but stories and ideas, decked out in costume and gesture, tied together strongly by the music.

Genesis appears to be poised at the brink of a real American career.

by Ian Dove

May 6, 1974:


Genesis, the British rock group with a srrong line of on-stage theatrics, returned Saturday for a sell-out solo concert at the Academy of Music on 14th Street.

Musically, it was more or less the same two-hour, interval-less concert Genesis presented on its last Manhattan visit (the quintet has been touring continously since then). However, some of the special effects were different: Genesis’ lead singer, Peter Gabriel, for instance, now concludes the concert by being hoisted a dozen feet in the air, legs dangling, still singing, with lights, flash, glitter and dry ice fumes to punctuate the song. Understandably it brings the crowd to a standing ovation.

Lighting and stage visuals — including slide projection of photographs and art, ancient and abstract — play a large part in Genesis’s approach to rock music, but again much attention is centered on Mr. Gabriel.

He runs through costume changes, from batwings to his celebrated impersonation of a day-glow daisy, make-up switches and several masks. His narration of strange surreal anecdotes before the beginning of some Genesis favorites adds a bizarre touch — the stories have little bearing on the songs that follow. But in story and song Mr. Gabriel presents a picture of an actor singing and a singer acting. In composite, Genesis owns a unique blend of controlled rock and theater.

by Ian Dove

Dec. 8, 1974:


Genesis, the British rock-theater group, was ambitious, even daring, at the Academy of Music on East 14th Street, on Friday. The quintet has made several recent tours in the United States, building an audience for its dadaesque songs, and quietly sophisticated slide-and-light show.

But on Friday the group threw out all the familiar (one rock theory is that familiarity breeds applause, a group must play its hits). Genesis produced what was virtually a one-and-a-half-hour stage version of its current record album, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”

Peter Gabriel, the band’s singer who has previously been given to dressing on stage as Merlin the Magician, appeared this time in “punk” street clothes– leather jacket, T-shirt and jeans–to fit the story.

As usual, Genesis (which prepares music as a unit) was occasionally profound, sometimes bombastic, now and then overblown and with music to match all these moods — not to mention the non-abstract slides the group projects along with the story. For all the high-seriousness, Mr. Gabriel has always been able to inject some esoteric humor into the show. There were only flashes of it on Friday — maybe being a lamb on Broadway does that.

by Ian Dove