Anyone who does any reading on Kevin Gilbert will quickly note how he name checks early Genesis amongst his progressive rock influences, specifically “conceptual masterpiece The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” MO-PA the 1974 double album that was then-lead singer Peter Gabriel’s swan song with the band. In his own words, KG says, “I’d put it right up there with Tommy and Quadrophenia,” CH two albums by The Who that are perhaps the best known and most critically acclaimed rock operas ever conceived.
Gilbert seemed determined to put The Lamb on its proper pedestal. As he said, “I think that’s a great lost piece of work…People have forgotten it, at least in the genre of rock music that is also story.” CH “I used to rehearse that when I was a kid…I’d close the door, I’d put on my leather coat, and I would perform The Lamb from start to finish. I probably performed it a hundred times.” CH
He “had a burning desire to perform [it] in its entirety” MO-PA outside of the confines of his childhood bedroom. This wish was fulfilled at ProgFest 1994, when Kevin, with a reformed Giraffe (containing a then unknown Nick D’Virgilio on drums) wowed the audience with a performance worthy of Genesis themselves.” MO-KG “This show, although never officially released, has become the stuff of legends.” MO-PA
Dave Kerzner, who played with Gilbert at that gig and on KG’s subsequent Thud album and tour, recounts how it came about. “One day I got a phone call from Kevin because he had heard I had a studio filled with vintage keyboards. He wanted to see the various Mellotrons and Chamberlins I had, so I invited him over.” DK
“We talked, and I played him some tunes I was working on at the time…He…commented…about how he knew I must be into Tony Banks because I had every keyboard Tony ever used. At the end of our first ‘hang,’ he said ‘You know, we should get a bunch of guys together and play The Lamb’! I just looked at him in disbelief and said ‘Sure, that would be awesome!’” DK
“At the end of 1994, Kevin came to me and said ‘Dave, still want to play The Lamb? I know the perfect place to do it. It’s called ProgFest.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I am totally up for the challenge but who else can we get to do this?’ Kevin explained to me that he had played with a drummer named Nick D’Virgilio who was a huge Phil Collins fan. He was very confident that Nick could pull it off.” DK
Nick had first met Gilbert at a ski resort gig. He later drummed for Gilbert on 1995’s Thud and was responsible for completing The Shaming of the True after Gilbert died. The Progfest program says that “Nick divulged his Collins obsession and mentioned that he had learned to drum by playing along to The Lamb.” PP
Rounding out the band were Dan Hancock took on the Steve Hackett role and filling in for the part of Mike Rutherford was Gilbert’s ex-Giraffe bandmate Stan Cotey. With two ex-Giraffe members on board, the gig was billed as Giraffe, largely out of Gilbert’s trepidation of having it viewed as a solo project.
The show was at the Variety Arts Center in Los Angeles on 11/6/94. “Widely hailed as a brilliant performance,” MG it was a “brilliant dedication to one of prog rock’s hallmark records.” SF “If you’re a musician, you probably know how impossible it is to perform any song from The Lamb, and musician-wise it’s a fabulous performance (some instrument parts are played ‘better’ than on the original record).” SF
The program does note, however, that “Due to time considerations, this evening’s performance is a slightly chopped Lamb. But…the band assures you the task they did not crave was what to kill and what to save and they’re sorry if they skipped your fave.” PP
Kerzner fondly remembers the performance: “We all got to play one of our favorite records of all time in front of a crowd of several thousand screaming prog fans that knew every note! And most of all, I am happy we were able to provide the background for one of Kevin’s fantasies, to play the part of Rael.” DK
“This concert was a big highlight for me because not only was it the most challenging gig I ever played, but the best feeling I ever had on stage was at the end of ‘Watcher of the Skies’ with that big grandiose ending along with the crowd reaction after. What a feeling that was!” DK