On the third date of their European tour, they play for more than two hours and include material from the last two albums they made with their original frontman, Peter Gabriel, as well as chunks from the first two they recorded after he left in 1975. The critics who wrote them off when Phil Collins stepped from behind the drumkit up to the mic had to eat their words as the group went on to sell a staggering 130 million albums.
After an instrumental section from the Duke album, which enables him to flex his drumming muscles alongside the mighty Chester Thompson, Collins takes his cap off, reprises his promotion from within the ranks, comes to the fore once more, and the concert starts in earnest with the dramatic "Turn It On Again". As a teenager, Collins played the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, the Lionel Bart musical, and his stage training still shows in the way he gets a crowd of 43,000 rain-sodden Germans onside with a few words in the local lingo.
"We're going to play some old, old stuff," he announces, and they dust off "In the Cage" from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The lateral swirl of the huge stage set glows with red cell bars for " Afterglow" from 1977's Wind and Wuthering, the last album they made as the band who looked as if they'd stepped out of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Genesis's quirky take on Englishness always travelled well, and informs oldies such as the surreal "I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe)".
The audience cheer every Tony Banks keyboard solo and go ballistic when Mike Rutherford straps on his signature twin-necked-bass-and-12-string combo, but Collins remains the centre of attention. He sings the affecting "Follow You, Follow Me" from behind the drums, plays the panto villain on " Mama", and spars with Thompson in a drum duet that leads into "Los Endos", the concluding instrumental medley from A Trick of the Tail.
There is a feeling that Genesis have rolled back the years, and that this version of the band has a future beyond celebrating their rich and varied catalogue.
© The Independent, by Pierre Perrone