Yesterday I ventured out to my local record store (they still exist) to pick up a copy of the new 5CD compilation of Genesis BBC Radio Broadcasts. My undying, irrationally extravagant devotion to all things Phil Collins gives me a clear bias, but also man, I love stuff like this so much. It’s 55 tracks of live Genesis concerts from 1970 all the way through 1998. It’s fascinating to listen through how their performances changed over the years.
The most interesting section to me are the recordings of a show at Lyceum Theatre in London on 7 May 1980 as part of the Duke tour. The backstory here is that after a bunch of festival and stadium performances in the late 1970s, Phil promised the band they would tour England properly. They ended up playing a whole slew of small venues all across the UK for the Duke tour, including towns that usually don’t get visits from big acts like them.
This was also the last time in their career that Genesis would play small venues. In total about 50,000 people saw them on this extensive tour. Subsequent tours would often see that many people (and more) each night. Why does this matter? By 1980 Genesis were already huge international stars, well known for their live shows. Seeing and hearing a band like that perform in small, intimate venues—close to each other on smaller stages—is pretty rare. And when you listen to it, the show has a very different atmosphere. You can feel them play off each other, you can sense the intense energy that only smaller venues can provide (years later, Phil would lament about those giant stadium shows, saying something to effect of “When you play for 50,000 people, 10,000 of them are always moving around and not listening to you.”)
Anyway, it’s been a blast to listen to this, finally released officially. If you have a few minutes and want a good example of what I mean, below I link to the the final couple minutes of In The Cage, into an amazing rendition of Afterglow.
Don’t get me wrong—I love “big venue” Genesis and saw them twice in stadiums. But the intensity of this performance is just so so good.