The 102 live performances of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway became the most controversial in Genesis’ touring history.
From the initial postponement of its UK leg in October 1974, when Steve Hackett severed a tendon in his hand, to its final fizzle out at the Palais des Sports, Besancon, eastern France on May 27th 1975 (where Peter Gabriel played The Last Post on the oboe backstage). Much has been made about Gabriel’s costumes, the problems with the projection of Jeffrey Shaw and Theo Botschuijver’s 1500 slides, to the fact certainly in the early stages of the tour most of the audience didn’t know what to expect. Add to that the fact the band was not cock-a-hoop about playing it either: “Some of the songs from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway are rubbish to play live,” Mike Rutherford said in 2013. “But you are stuck with it. It wasn’t much fun to play. It was a funny tour to do.”
The ambition of the performances at a time when stage technology was in its relative infancy seems naively audacious in the 21st century. The tour programme announced: “While the emphasis remains on the music and players the show will be theatrical and exciting, the music and imagery will not be separate, but whole, working together to pull the listener into the Genesis fantasy and out of everyday street realities. What Genesis are working towards is the future and their present flirtation with multimedia concepts is only the beginning of a whole new world.” And of course, there are the costumes: Gabriel would appear out of a blow-up phallus as the Slipperman, and often he wouldn’t be mic’d properly as he crawled around the stage; and the descending, swirling cloak of The Lamia would get caught around his microphone stand.
And all of that is why the memory of the tour has such enduring appeal. It is the tour people would love to see again: Persistent rumours abound that the whole thing was filmed (highly unlikely). When the band reformed for Six Of The Best in 1982, Gabriel was brought on stage in a coffin dressed as Rael to the strains of Back In NYC, and half of the 14-song set was from The Lamb. Canadian tribute act the Musical Box have performed it in its entirety with the original slides. Perhaps the Broadway musical still waits in the wings…