40 Years Ago: Genesis Perform First U.S. Concert
Genesis were one of the leading lights of the ’70s British progressive rock movement that also spawned groups like Yes, ELP and Jethro Tull. But the group got off to a rather slow start — especially in America, where the band had a harder time breaking through than in their native England. They would eventually go on to massive touring success stateside, but Genesis made their U.S. debut on Dec. 11, 1972 with a sparsely-attended gig at Boston’s Brandeis University.
Genesis had solidified what many fans consider their most classic lineup with the release of their previous album ‘Nursery Cryme’ in 1971. Now consisting of singer Peter Gabriel, keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist Mike Rutherford, guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins, the group followed up with 1972’s ‘Foxtrot,’ which contained Genesis classics like ‘Watcher of the Skies‘ and the 24-minute progressive rock epic ‘Supper’s Ready.’
‘Foxtrot’ reached No. 12 in the U.K. charts, and with an American label finally firmly on board, Genesis performed at Brandeis University as a warm-up gig for the group’s “official” American debut two days later at Philharmonic Hall in New York. Shows from that era featured Gabriel in makeup and costume changes for every song in the set, which included such Genesis essentials as ‘The Musical Box,’ ‘Return of the Giant Hogweed‘ and ‘The Knife.’ But the highlight of the set was undoubtedly ‘Supper’s Ready,’ which featured Gabriel ascending to the heavens via a system of wires at the song’s conclusion.
Though the band’s first U.S. “tour” basically consisted of just those two shows, they returned to America in 1973 for a series of higher-profile gigs, and once the word-of-mouth began to spread, Genesis ultimately went on to become a reliable arena-filling headline act by the mid-to-late ’70s. In the ’80s the group — now led by Phil Collins — would go on to become one of the largest concert draws in the world on the back of a vast catalog of pop hits.