There were times in the early ’70s when things got a bit complicated. The Beatles had broken up, David Gilmour and Roger Waters helped their former bandmate, Syd Barrett, produce his first full-length solo album, rock was giving birth to new, much political genres, and… Genesis, a prog rock band, was opening for the all-time punk Lou Reed.
It was 1973 in Toronto when confused audiences walked into the venue. Some were there to see Reed, and others only wished to see Genesis as the British band was performing in Canada for the first time. Later on, guitarist Steve Hackett recalled how complicated the show got as the two fan groups didn’t get along much.
To make things even more fun, a future rock hero, a young Geddy Lee, was also in the audience, and he, too, was waiting to see Genesis. The Rush frontman was an avid fan of the British act, especially during the early period they had with singer Peter Gabriel. Lee loved everything about their music, from their creative approach to their seemingly-magical concept albums.
Geddy had first gotten to know the band through his friends, as he recalled, in 2013 while chatting with Sirius XM, and; from that moment on, it became evident to him that he needed to see Genesis whenever they were in Canada. So, Lee and his friends bought tickets to the ‘strange’ Reed show, only hoping to see the opening act.
Lee recalled how he first got into the British act’s music:
“I got into Genesis early. A friend of mine turned me on to them right around when they were doing ‘Nursery Cryme’ and ‘The Musical Box,’ those early Genesis records. Much more than the later records for me; those early ones were amazing because they were concept albums, and they were so intricate.
They had beautiful moments, complex moments, and Peter Gabriel’s voice in the sense of showmanship. I remember when they came to Toronto to play for the first time. They were opening for Lou Reed, if you can believe that.”
When Genesis took the stage, they didn’t fail Geddy’s expectations. The frontman recalled that the band opened up with the track, ‘Watcher of the Skies,’ and the rest was a memorable show that would live on through Lee’s memories. However, things weren’t as bright on the Reed front since the Genesis fans had outnumbered Lou’s fans and left after the band wrapped. Lee even admitted that he felt bad for Reed after the show.
The frontman’s words on Genesis’ performance:
“All these massive Genesis fans came to the show. They far outnumbered the Lou Reed fans at that show, and the show was late. I don’t even think all their gear arrived. The light show didn’t arrive in time. So they came onstage, and they played their set, and we were still blown away to hear.
I think they opened with ‘Watcher of the Skies.’ After their set, we all left [laughs]. Poor Lou Reed had to come in when people were basically leaving. I felt bad for him, but it’s just a strange mismatch.”
In the Rush icon’s opinion, Genesis’ early albums and shows had unique moments, but Peter’s impressive vocals and showmanship made it special the most. Gabriel’s performance was special to him, making the records even better than it already was. So, after the act finished their performance, Lee didn’t stick around to see Reed as he believed there was no way he could top the opening act.
It might sound like a fever dream for Genesis to open for Lou Reed while Geddy Lee was in the audience, watching the band in awe. However, it was the ’70s, a thriving era for rock and where you could probably walk into a venue and see a legendary act opening for another rock icon.