The guys in Genesis are about as British as it gets, meaning they’ve never been known to get very emotional in public or even in private.
But right before they played the final song at the last night of their Turn It On Again reunion tour in 2007, Phil Collins addressed the crowd and spoke from the heart.
"As we stand here right now there is nothing else planned, so that adds a lot more emotion to this evening than this being the last show of the last tour," Collins told the audience at the Hollywood Bowl. "I’m 56. I joined this band when I was 19, so you can work that out. But Tony [Banks] and Mike [Rutherford] were already in it and they’re older than me. So this is very much a family group. We grew up together. I’ve never said it privately or publicly, but Tony I love you. Mike, I love you too. Now being British, we’re going to carry on with things. That’s enough of that."
As they did every night of the tour, they then wrapped up the night not with one of their big 1980s pop hits, but rather with "The Carpet Crawlers" from their 1974 prog rock magnum opus The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. It comes midway through the double record when our hero Rael, a Puerto Rican gang member from New York that gets sucked into another dimension, comes into a red carpeted corridor full of mysterious figures crawling towards a spiral staircase leading to a chamber of 32 doors. Truth be told, nobody outside of Peter Gabriel knows what the hell is going on in that song or anything else on that record, and even he’s probably a little iffy on the particulars these days. But it’s a beautiful tune nonetheless and a perfect way for the group to top of their last show.
This was the early days of the camera phone where not every song at every show was filmed from 6,000 different angles. The video that survived is pretty crappy, but here’s a pretty good audio recording paired with an image of their final bow from the show.
Collins told the band he only wanted to do 25 shows on the tour, but he wound up doing nearly double that. He also played more drums than he had in many years, leading to major back pain, surgeries and, ultimately, severe nerve damage that makes it nearly impossible for him play drums. Thanks to a paralyzed foot, he can barely even walk these days. That seemed to mark the end of his performance career, but last year he began playing solo gigs where he sat all night while his teenage son Nic handled drum duties.
Earlier this month, Collins told Rolling Stone that he’s not willing to rule out another Genesis reunion if Nic plays the drums. "I’m saying this to you," he says. "I haven’t really said it to Tony and Mike. I did mention to Tony very quietly if we did anything again it would be with Nic on drums. He kind of didn’t say no. But I’m not sure if he heard me or not."
If they do reunite for another tour, they should dig even deeper into The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway for the setlist. Maybe they could play "The Colony of Slippermen." It’s an eight-minute song where Rael is castrated by a doctor to rid him of the giant testicles that have grown all over his body and his penis is stolen by a raven that flies away with it. There might be a rock song out there with a stranger storyline, but we’re struggling to think of it. The guys that wrote "I Can’t Dance" and "In Too Deep" had a really, really weird 1970s.
© RollingStone, Andy Greene