It’s been a long while since I inflicted my adolescent interest in progressive rock on Power Line readers, mostly because I know it is a rarified taste that only appeals to a minority of similarly idiosyncratic people like me. That’s why I post these in the middle of the night instead of prime time. In any case, there hasn’t been much “new” lately about this by now very old genre.
Until last week. Someone came across some 16mm film of Genesis playing at the Bataclan Theater in Paris in 1973 (the site of the Islamic terrorist attack in 2015), and has somehow upgraded the video to 4K resolution, and worked over the sound to produce a marvelous result.
This clip is 37 minutes long, and only the most intrepid Proggers will want to view the whole thing. It begins with two of their long, lugubrious numbers from Foxtrot and Nursery Cryme, “The Musical Box” and “Supper’s Ready,” though these do show off Peter Gabriel playing the flute in a few spots, and both songs do include some sublime passages. For dilettantes or casual listeners, I recommend scrolling ahead to the 21:15 mark to take in the up-tempo (and more than slightly insane) “Return of the Giant Hogweed.”
No one needs to be persuaded that Peter Gabriel was one weird guy, but the bonus of this appearance is seeing a very hirsute Phil Collins on the drums and providing backup vocals. My own opinion is that both Genesis and Gabriel went downhill fast after Gabriel left and Collins took over as the band’s frontman and turned Genesis toward more conventional pop in the 1980s. But oh those early- to mid-70s albums were really something original and unusual.
P.S. I’ve seen other unimproved video of this concert featuring an excellent rendition of “The Fountain of Salmacis,” but I’m holding out for restored versions of “Harold the Barrel” and “Get ‘Em Out by Friday.”