Genesis is one of those bands that I remember the exact moment I heard them for the first time. I was standing in my childhood bedroom, my little clock radio tuned to the AOR station, KWFM. Peter Gabriel's voice rose in the haunting chorus of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," and I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Of course, by the time I actually heard the song for the first time in the late 1970s, Peter Gabriel had long since left Genesis, and it would be another 5 years before I bought a Genesis album. It would be nearly 30 before I saw them live: at the spouse's prompting we saw them at the Hollywood Bowl last Saturday night.
It was an enjoyable show; Phil Collins seemed to have fun working the audience, and they played a nice cross-section of music. It's funny because the spouse prefers later Genesis, while I'm more a fan of the earlier stuff, and the kids were just happy to sing and dance to "Land of Confusion" and "I Can't Dance." The band did a stellar rendition of "In the Cage," and it was great to hear "I Know What I Like," and a medley of "Home by the Sea" and "Second Home by the Sea." I was also looking forward to the drum duet, but as it started, I realized that my children will now think that drum solos are de rigueur at rock concerts, given they've also seen Rush live twice.
It's great fun to take the kids to concerts, and we started them out young with the summer classical concerts at Irvine Meadows. Nothing is better than eating homemade chocolate cake under the foggy So Cal summer sky while listening to the "1812 Overture" with cannons. At least, that was my theory and over time, I had them sufficiently well trained that they could sit through a performance of Handel's Messiah, though I don't remember exactly what I bribed them with so they would.
From classical music, we moved up to musical theater, and they've delighted in (seriously) The Lion King, Riverdance and Cats.
Then, I decided they were ready for their first rock concert.
This was a relatively pragmatic choice for several reasons: one, I figured that based on personal experience (which involved telling an elaborate untruth to two sets of parents so my friend and I could go to see the Eagles when we were 13), it was better that I take my children to see their first rock concert, and two, it is just bloody impossible to get a baby sitter in Southern California. The third reason is simply self-preservation: by exposing my children to the right music, I reduce the chance that I will have to sit through Hannah Montana.
And that's how my children ended up seeing Rush on the R30 tour, which featured an extremely memorable appearance by Jack Black. Of course, the daughter actually managed to fall asleep during “2112,” and remains the only person I know who has slept through Rush. Don’t get the wrong idea: she loves the music, but she’s a stickler for a 9 p.m. bedtime.
(Note to those who doubt my good judgment: yes, they were wearing earplugs. I wear earplugs, for Pete's sake. Yes, they were coached on the likelihood that they would see illegal drug use and inappropriate alcohol consumption. Again, from personal experience, I've found that children benefit from an inoculation of seeing adults behaving like idiots under the influence, especially when they can contrast that with their own parents' behavior, which is beyond reproach).
Later that same summer, we all saw the Indigo Girls at the Britt Festival with a group of friends, which was also good fun.
Still, the kids were anxious to see Rush again when the Snakes & Arrows tour came through in July. With fifth row orchestra seats, they had a great view of the show, and the daughter was so excited when “Limelight,” the show opener, started that she couldn’t decide whether to air drum, air bass or air guitar, and so, tried to do all three at once.
Honestly, it was about the funniest thing I’ve ever watched her attempt. And fortunately, she also forgot that her favorite baseball player ever, Tim Salmon, was sitting about 15 seats away from us because once she saw him, she attached herself like a barnacle to my side.
There’s something distinctly cool about watching your kids sing along to songs you’ve loved for years, although I’d have to admit I’m a bit more subdued when they are around (okay, okay. The word "subdued" ceases to exist when I hear "Natural Science"). But it’s well worth it. Live music, whether it’s Beethoven or Rush, is one of the joys of my life, and sharing that passion with my offspring is priceless.
Go listen to some good music: "Turn It On Again" from the album Duke by Genesis.