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Fossilised Genesis rock still has sparkle

It was originally intended also to feature first-phase Genesis members Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett, performing the band's most acclaimed album, 1974's The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. In the end the pair could not be persuaded to rejoin Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, but this show still emphasised the days when Genesis was a byword for epic prog rock rather than chart-topping pop.

It began with a rambling instrumental and concluded with The Carpet Crawlers from The Lamb ... incorporating drum solos, twin-necked guitars and spacey synth riffs while still finding space for the hits in a lengthy set that did much to justify its stadium setting. The stage looked extraordinary, the most spectacular I have seen at a gig this size.

Acknowledging that no one needed to focus on the bald heads and beards holding the instruments, the band played beneath a vast wave of steel that resembled Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao, completely covered in lights.

The firework finale of Invisible Touch was icing on a cake that was already thoroughly iced. Collins seemed perfectly at home, conducting the screams and waving arms of the vast crowd, despite having vowed to quit touring in 2002.

He flitted between his drum kit and every other spot on the stage, helped on percussion by long-term touring member Chester Thompson. He crooned sensitively on tracks including Hold On My Heart and Ripples, but seemed to prefer cackling into a close-up camera like Gollum on the bizarre Mama, and leading his bandmates in the famous silly walk during I Can't Dance.

Many songs had dated badly, perhaps because unlike, say, the Beatles or the Stones, you don't hear the sound of Genesis reflected in the music of current bands.

But if there were any young musicians in the audience who were as dazzled by the spectacle as I was, who knows, maybe their time will come yet.

© Evening Standard, by David Smyth

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