Sunday , February 25 2024
It's not the "holy grail" okay? So what makes this DVD even just a little bit special?

Music DVD Review: Genesis – Remember Knebworth 1978: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Although at just 24 minutes in length this concert video is a bit short — it features only two full songs, just one of which, "The Lady Lies," is from the actual performance advertised — for the hardcore Genesis fan you could actually rate Remember Knebworth 1978 as a fairly essential live document of a band caught in transition.

No, this isn't the "holy grail" of something like the complete The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway performed live, back when Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett were part of the band.

For that, the best you'll probably be able to do are grainy snippets of footage on either bootlegs, or one of those "critical analysis" DVDs like Inside Genesis. Though many fans still believe that a pristine video document of that particular 1975 tour does exist. Somewhere, anyway…

As common as live DVD concert footage from the latter "Phil Collins era" — when Genesis transitioned into a more commercial pop act driven by MTV videos — is, live stuff from those earlier days as a more progressive rock band is far harder to find. The best of the officially released live material from this period can be found on the bonus DVDs included in the recently expanded versions of albums like Trick Of The Tail and And Then There Were Three.

So what makes this one even just a little bit special?

Well, for one thing it has a certain charm about it. This 24 minute "concert" film documents the entire lead-up to Genesis' headlining gig at the 1978 Knebworth festival in England. Genesis were already huge in Europe at the time, and about an album away from headlining arenas in the States.

The package itself has a reproduction of the original Knebworth festival programme, that includes everything from the ads, to things like prices for the concessions (a delectable concert-goers menu of things like "sausage rolls" which went for 15p). It also features unintentionally humorous descriptions of such support acts as Jefferson Starship, Devo, and a then up and coming Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers (did you know Petty hates disco music?).

The short film itself also has a sort of Monty Python quality about it — with it's images of hippies arriving at the festival amid worries about it being rained out. Meanwhile, a Python-esque British narrator blathers on about the 180,000 cans of Coke, and 25,000 sandwiches being trucked in for the big event. It is all very funny, and very, very British.

As for the actual performances?

As I said, there is only one, of the song "The Lady Lies," which shows Genesis at a very unique point in their career. Touring behind the album And Then There Were Three, the live footage here shows Genesis caught in a musical twilight zone. They had just lost guitarist Steve Hackett — their last real link to their progressive rock past — and were one album away from becoming eighties MTV pop stars. It really is the last gasp of Genesis as the torch-bearers of prog-rock, and for that reason alone has historical value to the diehard fan.

The performance is also really great stuff. Collins in particular is a whirling dervish, dashing from his role as frontman at the mike to the drum kit during the extended instrumental breaks. A sound check of the song Many Too Many is also shown here, although the audio is taken from the studio version.

The Knebworth concert footage seen here, as well as a good deal of the behind the scenes stuff, can in fact also be found at greater length on the expanded version of And Then There Were Three. But the extras here make this somewhat of a keeper — especially that reproduced Knebworth concert programme.

As for that "holy grail," well, never say never.

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.

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