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Tuesday, 18th September 2018

 

'Village Voice', December 16, 1974

Editor's Note: This article is from a series of lost and rare Genesis articles, features, and interviews which were preserved by Paperlate member Chloe Lev. Without her preservation of these articles, they would most likely have been lost to Genesis fans forever. Transcription of these was done by Lev and Linda Darling. Village Voice,
December 16, 1974


IN THE HALL OF THE MUTANT KING

Peter Gabriel in Genesis: Whatever gets you through the song, can't be wrong
Genesis: Meatloaf on Parade
"The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is a musical production by the English group, Genesis, that represents New York as a labyrinthine meg-structure with nightma rish images fluttering about like bats within the passageways.

It's an insanely ambitious attempt to fuse a pop epic from the bleakness of Bequeaths "The Lost Ones" and the phantasmagoria of Borge's "The Circular Ruins"; what you get is corrupted Bequeaths, sullied Burgess and ponderous pop. Serious (e.g. humorless) rock theatre has never worked and probably never will - high solemn intentions imprison the spontaneity of rock within an Alcatraz of cultural pretension.

Certainly every brick was solidly in place for last weekend's production of "Lamb" at the Academy of Music. Not a single moment of excitement was allowed to intrude.

Rock theatre is necessarily based upon the personalities of the performers, which is why the Who's theatrical power is strongest not in "Quadrophenia" but in "I Can See For Miles", where the dramatic tension is rooted in dynamics of Peter Townshend's rollercoaster moods. For Genesis, however, overproduction fills the voids of personality.

Despite all the hard work - the imaginative slide show, complex stage lighting, and numerous entrances and exits -one of the "Lamb" song titles describes the production with painful accuracy: "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging."

Lifeless was the performance of leader Peter Gabriel; the protagonist's name is Rael so it's surely no accident that Gabriel is a Roger Daltry sound alike. On stage he looks like a stoned somnambulist from the cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but that cadaverous sleepwalker at least had a haunting aura, where Gabriel has all the stage presence of an ambulatory meatloaf. Gabriel is said to have a large following, but he sings without power and moves as awkwardly as Bowie. (Bowie may have studied mime but with his twitches, tics and emaciated angularity he looks as if he has animal on his back, and I don't mean a chipmunk).

Gabriel and company are trying however to go beyond Bowie, beyond Tom O'Horgan. I suspect Grand Guignol gulch is where they're heading. With their magpie eclecticism, they may get there. Following the incomprehensible liner notes to the two record set of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is acknowledgement given to Keats and, indeed, one of the tracks is entitled "The Lamia" ("Lamia" being one of Keats's later poetical dramas). Actually, the opening lines to "The Fall of Hyperion" are more appro priate to the numbed, dead-eyed crowd watching Gabriel at the Academy: "Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave/ A paradise for a sect."

-James Wolcott

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