Shade Of Dawning (Highland HL069#G10)
Watford Technical College, Watford, England – March 4th, 1972
(66:56) Harlequin, Stagnation, The Fountain Of Salmacis, Twilight Alehouse, The Musical Box, The Return Of The Giant Hogweed, The Knife
Shade Of Dawning contains one of the most important documents of Genesis’ live career. It is the oldest audience recording of any gig they played in England and one of the most valuable from the Nursery Cryme era. The March 4th Watford Technical College gig circulated before, but this release is a significant upgrade over the poor quality, high generation that was floating around before. The music is sharper and Peter Gabriel’s stories, almost inaudible on the old tape, are understandable. The taper was positioned close to the stage and was able to produce a very good audience recording of the event. The audience are very quiet as they follow the tales in what turns out to be a passionate performance by the band. There are three small cuts during Gabriel’s introduction to “The Fountain Of Salmacis,” two small cuts before “Twilight Alehouse,” a small cut before “The Musical Box” and a short tape pause in the very beginning of the song, and a small cut before “The Return Of The Giant Hogweed.”
Aside from being the earliest Genesis audience recording from England, this valuable for having the only live version of “Harlequin.” Since the tape cuts in at the very beginning it is hard to say if it is the first song of the set. It wouldn’t be inconceivable to start the show with a mellow acoustic based ballad. The only older audience recording, dating from January 16th Festival Charleroi in Belgium, has a similar set list except “Happy The Man” is played first before “Stagnation.” It is effective in the live setting with the guitars emanating a dreamy landscape perfect in capturing the idea behind Nursery Cryme. Gabriel tells a long story about Thomas Eselberg playing monopoly before the start “Stagnation” which, at the start, maintains the aura of the preceding song.
Gabriel tells the hermaphrodite story before dedicating “The Fountain Of Salmacis” to the Tesco supermarket chain, “without them, none of this would have been possible.” This is one of the most passionate renditions of the tale with Peter in particular punctuating the verses with screams. Before “Twilight Alehouse” he tells the long “tube train” story which has nothing to do with the song but is famous for being included on the liner notes to Genesis Live released the following year. This is the only recording where he recites the story.
“The Musical Box” has by this time found its place as their most dramatic and compelling live pieces. Gabriel tells the story of the song and speaks about a “naked Patrick Moore” being lowered from the rafters before they start and even without the visuals and the costumes the stark emotions are conveyed. Banks and Hackett hit the hard rock middle with much aggression which will be carried over into the final songs of the night. Before “Hogweed” Gabriel tells the audience they paid six John Lennon impersonators and challenges them to find the real John Lennon. The middle and ending with Hackett and Banks playing closest to heavy metal as Genesis would ever go and when they come out for the encore Gabriel introduces “The Knife” as “a bit of vintage Genesis.” There have been no other silver releases of this tape since Highland produced Shade Of Dawning in 1996 and it remains the definitive edition.