Concert goers who had arrived — at up to $205 a head — expecting a full run of MTV nostalgia with a sprightly Phil Collins got just half of what they anticipated: While the bright hits came in bits and pieces (“Throwing It All Away,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”), the show was dominated by the elegant, intricate prog-rock that deep-rooted fans were eager to hear.
It was a surprisingly effective, principled return to the band’s pre-pop glory days — and a reverse in philosophy from the band’s blockbuster tours of the past two decades, when the older stuff seemed approached as a chore.
On a sleek, high-tech stage in front of more than 16,000 fans, Collins, guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks appeared firmly in the groove of a global tour now closing in on the four-month mark. With Collins playing the familiar role of good-humored host, Rutherford and Banks largely kept their heads down as they wound their way through the 2-1/2 hour set.
Songs crashed and segued into one another in a night of heavy-duty instrumental work that bundled extensive readings of ’70s prog-rock epics such as “In the Cage,” “Afterglow” and “I Know What I Like.” Banks’ fluid lines were pushed high into the mix, often steering the musical motion; Rutherford was firm and workmanlike on his double-neck guitar-bass, with a pair of scorching solos delivered by guitarist Daryl Steurmer.
Collins took to the drum kit during a fusion of “Home By the Sea” and “Second Home By the Sea,” doubling up with drummer Chester Thompson and foreshadowing a feisty — if excessive — percussive jam from the pair later in the show.
It was enough to make glaring sore thumbs of streamlined pop hits like “Invisible Touch” and “I Can’t Dance,” or even a pleasant “Follow You, Follow Me,” which were tucked into a Sunday set list where the dark, intense “Mama” felt more at home.
As far as the diehards are concerned, this was all just a welcome warm-up anyway: The real Genesis reunion — the one with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett — is still rumored to be waiting in the wings.
© Detroit Free Press, by Brian McCollum