Double Watchers (Highland HL636/637)
Disc 1, Teatro Alcione, Genoa, Italy – August 22nd, 1972: Watcher Of The Skies, Can-Utility And The Coastliners, The Fountain Of Salmacis, Twilight Alehouse, Seven Stones, The Musical Box, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, The Knife
Disc 2, Parasport, Rome, Italy – January 22nd, 1973: Watcher Of The Skies, The Musical Box, The Fountain Of Salmacis, Supper’s Ready, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, The Knife
Double Watchers collects together two early Genesis tapes recorded several months apart during one of their early transition phases. The first disc contains the August 22nd, 1972 show in Genoa, Italy. Popular on bootleg, this tape received its first release on vinyl on Through The Looking Glass (Alternative Recording Company GNV017), which has the show except for “The Knife” which wasn’t recorded. Another LP called Old Man’s Tale (Brush) has “Seven Stones” and “Bye Bye Johnny” (“Can-Utility And The Coastliners”) and an earlier compact disc release is Alone Within A Storm (Orange Records OP14).
Highland is a two source mix with most of the show coming from the first tape source and an alternate source being used for the encore “The Knife.” The first tape source is good to very good sounding. It is clear but flat and lacking in dynamics and the taper paused the tape between each song to save tape cutting out some of the stories. The second tape source used for the encore is poor, muffled and distorted and is added only to offer a complete show. There are doubts about its authenticity and more likely than not is not from this actual show.
The concert itself is an interesting glimpse into the final days of the Nursery Cryme era. The band had just finished recording the follow up Foxtrot before its October release and they open the show with two new songs which the audience are unfamiliar. “Watcher Of The Skies” is played very fast. In introducing the next song Gabriel says, “a translation of which is quite impossible.” Although this was played on stage before under its working title “Bye Bye Johnny,” it has taken the final form as it appears on the LP. After the tape fades back in Gabriel introduces the next song as “La Fontana di Salmacis.” “Twilight Alehouse” was a regular inclusion in the set list although it wasn’t officially released until 1974.
“Seven Stones” from Nursery Cryme receives its only known live performance and its presence on the tape make this important for Genesis collectors. There is a strange tape glitch afterwards as Gabriel is introducing the next song where he says, “…is the story of a little boy. This one is the story of a little boy and a little wooden box which has music playing from it. The little boy is kaput, finito and he flies up to heaven and then comes all the way down again. But now he meets the senorita. This is the story of Henry and the musical box.”
“The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” is a great set closer. The encore is very long, but it sounds like it was tacked on from another concert. The Italian audience is very quiet and respectful throughout the performance, but during “The Knife” they become very noisy throughout the piece. There is not any internal evidence to determine its precise location however.
The second disc comes very early in the Foxtrot period and was taped on January 22nd, 1973 in Rome. There is some debate about the correct date however. It is known they had two shows scheduled in Italy. January 19th as supposed to be the Charisma Festival, but that was postponed and the two other bands, Lindesfarne and String Driven Thing could not reschedule. Genesis rescheduled that date the 22nd. They also played on January 20th in Reggio Emila and a poor quality tape exists for that show, so this tape must be from January 22nd.
Regardless of the date, this is one of the most devastating live Genesis tapes in existence and deserves compulsive listening. The acoustics of the venue give this a brutal live sound and captures all the dynamics of this performance. It first surfaced on vinyl many years ago on Moonswept Paradise (Clean Sound Records CS 1004) and also on Charisma Festival (E.R.A. Music Milano). Both list this as being from the Charisma Festival on January 19th.
Like the Genoa tape there are cuts between most of the songs as if the taper were trying not to run out. The setlist reflects the current repertoire at the time with no rarities, but three months after the release of Foxtrot the delivery of the material is much more confident. The epic “Supper’s Ready” doesn’t have the “old Michael” story yet, but Gabriel gives a long and silly introduction when he says, after some mellotron tuning, “this is the music of tuning up. Very rehearsed. This was inspired by a shout late in the evening in London close to where we live. It goes like this: SUPPER’S READY! It is also understood as supper’s ready. We’d like to point out something special. The ding-a-ling of Mr. Phil Collins. No appreciation at all. Mr. Collins won’t play unless you give him more encouragement.”
What follows is a tremendous version of the Foxtrot epic, and even the restrained audience follow it up with a roar of approval. The final song is “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed” with a nine minute version of “The Knife” serving as the encore. Double Watchers is packaged in a double slimline sleeve with effective graphics utilizing photos from the era and a photo of Grabriel in his batwing costume for “Watchers,” appropriate given the title. This is the final Genesis release on the hallowed Highland title as it turns out and serves as a memorable swan song for the progressive rock pioneers.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)