February 6th, 2017
Tradition dictates that I start the new year off with a Genesis show and 2017 will be no different.
I must have watched The Mama Tour video dozens of times back in the 1980s and it became the standard document of that tour in my head. Well, it was on the only one at the time, after all. The song sequencing, the stories in between the songs, even certain drum fills. That WAS the Mama Tour.
And so it was a real pleasure to hear an unexpurgated show from that tour for the first time. To hear songs left out of the video, songs in an alternate order, different banter between songs, and distinct drum fills. Even now when I listen to one of these shows The Mama Tour video is lurking behind the scenes. I’ll expect to hear “Illegal Alien” and instead it’s the opening of “Eleventh Earl of Mar”.
Genesis did not vary their setlists much during tours. It wasn’t like going to see the Grateful Dead when any permutation of dozens of songs was possible. A song may last a few shows at the beginning of a tour and then be replaced or the encore alternated between two or three tunes but that was really about it. (The very early days of the band excepted.) Part of it was likely due to the band’s live presentation – the lights and slides. They were all cued to the music and so the band couldn’t decide to pull an old song out from the moth balls and expect the visuals to match. Plus, after having listened to many an interview, I get the impression that Genesis just seemed to like knowing what was to be done, rehearsing it, and trying to get each night’s performance as close to perfect as possible.
While the Mama Tour didn’t veer into jam band unpredictability, the setlist at the beginning and that at the end were quite different by Genesis standards. “Carpet Crawlers” was around most of the time but not all as were “Man on the Corner” and “Who Dunnit?”. “Misunderstanding” would come and go while the first oldies medley of the night morphed throughout the tour. “Eleventh Earl of Mar”, sometimes with the first verse, would start things off and then, depending when were in the tour, you’d get some combination including “Squonk”, “Ripples”, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, “Firth of Fifth”, “Behind the Lines”, and the closing section of “The Musical Box”.
For my taste this tour closed a chapter on the band. It’s hard to describe and is obviously colored by hindsight. This is Genesis ascending. Popular, to be sure, but not the megastars they would be on their next tour. There’s an energy here, a drive to take it to the next level that would wane. Perhaps the Invisible Tour was just as kinetic but the Invisible Touch songs are simply less appealing. The band definitely did a better job of integrating old material into their live repertoire on The Mama Tour. After it songs from the 1970s seemed woefully out of place and even perfunctory at times. The of a “throw away” song like “Who Dunnit?” shows that there was more to crafting a setlist than trying to squeeze some older songs in between all the hits and as much of the new album as time would allow. The Mama Tour just seemed less formulaic.
This particular show is from 10 November 1983 and is only the fourth of the tour. It was in Milwaukee and features probably the longest ovation for Daryl Stuermer ever. “Carpet Crawlers” is here and is played second with “Abacab” coming towards the end of the concert. It’s a good audience recording.
Dodo – Lurker
Eleventh Earl Of Mar / Squonk / Firth Of Fifth
Man On The Corner
Home By The Sea Intro
Home By The Sea
Keep It Dark
It’s Gonna Get Better
Follow You Follow Me
In The Cage
In That Quiet Earth
Turn It On Again
Here’s the first oldies medley from the 20 February 1984 show in Oakland. By this time it had become “Eleventh Earl Of Mar / The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway / Firth Of Fifth / The Musical Box”.