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Lamb Event 2012 - A glimpse behind the curtains

Towards the end of 2010 we began to plan our jubilee year 2011. The 20th anniversary of the Fanclub demanded something quite special. So we decided to have a Fanclub CD, a website special, a special magazine and a particularly exciting jubilee convention. While we were able to complete the first three items on our list with concerted efforts in time for the 20th anniversary of the Fanclub in November 2011, the road to the convention proved littered with obstacles…

Our original idea was to have an event about a period of Genesis we had not covered in a convention before. We had fixed on a special guest in mid-2010, contacted him, and for a long time it looked as if we could really have him for the convention. In early 2011 we were told that the musician and his small band would demand several times the fee we had spoken about before. Since that would have pulled the financial carpet from under our feet, we had to drop plan A.

Plan B failed because the special guest we had thought about seemed not inclined to decide whether to attend or not.

Helmut und SergeSo we went on to plan C, an updated version of the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway event we had done in 2001. At the time we supposed The Musical Box would come to Germany in the autumn of 2011 to do more Lamb shows. We had the idea to link the convention to a TMB concert so that visitors would see the Lamb exhibition, Serge Morissette’s documentary and the original Genesis Lamb video footage before they would then see TMB reproduce the show live in the evening. We felt that was a good plan…

Since we wanted to have the convention on a weekend only a few cities on the TMB tour schedule could be short-listed. The show at Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt/Main seemed the best option because it is fairly central and can be reached quite well. So we got into contact with the venue management, and for several weeks it looked as if we could get the whole thing lined up and, more importantly, get it funded, too. Just before negotiations were finished additional costs turned up. For seating arrangements alone they demanded a sum that would cover all expenses of a regular convention. In short, the combination of Lamb event and TMB Lamb show had to be dropped because of financial constraints.

So we started from scratch … again. We had focused our plans on early 2012 to accommodate the TMB shows, and much time had been spent on planning. A convention in 2011 was not possible anymore, and so we decided on a date shortly after TMB’s Lamb tour in March 2012. The obvious venue was Eichenzell-Welkers, the home of it conventions. Tickets went on sale and both days sold out within a few weeks.

Aufbau HelmutSerge Morissette’s video productions would be the core event at the convention. Like a decade before we planned to show a brief documentary about the album and the tour for The Lamb Lies Down Down…  and a bit about The Musical Box’s Lamb tour reproduction. The main attraction would be a video of a complete Genesis Lamb show. The problem remained the same as it had been ten years before: There is no professional footage of a complete show from that tour. However, some longer super 8 films as well as several new photos had come to light since 2001. And so Serge began to examine new and known footage, to sort and cut and assemble them into a Lamb show film that is in synch with a live audio recording of The Lamb. It is very hard to imagine what a gargantuan effort it is to find photos for all the moments in the music, to insert all the (usually very amateurish) videos from back then and synch them to the music. Had it not been Serge with this long experience of finding out details of the original show for The Musical Box, the result would have been much worse – as the feeble attempts of many video bootleg producers prove. Serge is very probably the only person who can reconstruct this show to many minute details. He does set himself very high standards and the product of his work is unsurpassable in perfection. Serge put in many hundred hours of work into the film and the documentary – without getting paid for it and just for the love of it.

The basis for the audio track of the concert film was the recording from the Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles on January 24, 1975. Tom Morgenstern offered to create a restored 4.0 quadro sound version from the recording, and Serge and we gladly accepted as Tom is known for achieving magic things with old Genesis recordings. We knew he would do great things with this recording. Some passages had to be replaced with audio from other concerts. The instrumental part of Fly On A Windshield, for example, was replaced with audio from Rochester (17/12/1974) because Serge had video footage of that and Phil drummed the drums in a different way than in Los Angeles. Blending in the replaced parts required lots of experience and lots of diligence, both of which Tom brings to the table.

The cooperation of Serge and Tom produced the unique experience all the guests at the Lamb event 2012 got to see and hear exclusively. A pity that the video was shown only those two times at the convention before it was locked again in Serge’s safe. It would be great to have such a lovingly made production on DVD or Blu-ray. The Genesis management is obviously not going to do us this favour, particularly with various legal obstacles this entails.

Aufbau SchaukästenWe also decided to have an exhibition that showed everything possible that is related to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. We wanted to outdo our 2001 exhibition. Some items were found in the collections of GNC staff, but the most beautiful, exciting and rare items were, as they have been so kindly and frequently in the past, provided by collectors from abroad. Many posters, ticket stubs and tour passes arrived in the luggage of US-based George German, who was our guest in Welkers. The other major contributor was Mino Profumo from Italy; he provided some items that are absolutely unique. Unfortunately, Mino could not come to Welkers, and it even looked like we might not even get his material for the collection. Thanks to the kind help of Paolo Ronza who brought a big parcel from Mino to Welkers we finally had all the exhibits we had hoped for. We particularly had far more tour posters in 2012 than eleven years before. This was made possible not least thanks to Carol Willis of the Genesis management who kindly provided high-resolution photos of some posters, the originals of which have been lost. This meant we could show two posters in reproductions. Another person from the Genesis camp, who wants to remain anonymous, lent us a very special poster – in fact, the only known copy of a poster promoting the UK Lamb tour 1975. Michael Donkel and Uwe Brehmer provided some vinyl rarities. Another (literal) highlight of the exhibition was the slide viewer packed with originals and copies of the slides that Genesis used and TMB still use for the Lamb stage show. The story of how we managed to find a slide viewer that does not cost too much and does not get too warm (it stood in a locked display cabinet could fill another article. The exhibition was a big success thanks to the support of a handful of fans.

This much for the things that worked well. The following example may illustrate that not everything runs smoothly during such a convention. We wanted to invite a special guest, be it a member of the band or another person who was very involved with Genesis during the Lamb era. We asked Tony Banks but did not get an answer for quite some time. When we repeated the invitation he kindly declined. Peter or Phil would have been too big for Welkers. Mike had made it clear that he was not available for conventions, and Steve had been with us before, so we wondered who else could reveal interesting details about that time. We figured it should be someone from the tour crew. We shall not mention his name, but he could have told us many interesting things about the 1974/75 tour in the hot seat. He was forthcoming and interested as far as our questions about the tour dates and the tour were concerned, but avoided an answer to our invitation. When we did not hear anything about the issue and time began to run out and it turned out that we were close to our budget we decided to drop the idea. 

But it was a great convention even without an interview guest. After so many years and conventions it is still stunning to see how this simple multi-purpose community centre in Welkers turns into a Genesis museum. 2012 saw the fourteenth Fanclub convention in Welkers – and every single time has been special.

CREW 2012In the end we have to mention that, though it is usually planned and organized only be GNC staff, the team during the convention is much larger. We have enjoyed the support from a very effective and reliable team: Uwe Brehmer, Brian Harth, Vincent Janisch, Martin Klinkhardt, Jan Kruse, Johannes Strosche, Martin Timmerbeil and, last but not least, the Hirschmann’s family who outdid themselves in catering for hungry and thirsty guests with delicious food and cool drinks. Our thanks to all the helping hands!

Thank you, too, to everybody who attended the convention! As you see, there is more effort behind everything than one might thinks. This time it was certainly worth the work to let The Lamb lie down in Welkers…

by Helmut Janisch, English by Martin Klinkhardt
photos by Jan Kruse and Christian Gerhardts