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Genesis goes beyond familiar radio hits

And though there's no doubt money to be made from the endeavor, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks seem to have reunited Genesis at least partially for the sheer joy of making music together again. At least that's the feeling one got during the band's show Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, one of the last stops on a North American tour that started Sept. 7 in Toronto. Originally conceived as a full reunion with Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett, the trek ultimately featured the three musicians who have been the band's core since the late 1970s.

With longtime tourmates Chester Thompson (drums) and Daryl Stuermer (bass, guitar) helping out, the trio pushed itself far beyond the '80s radio hits many fans had likely come to hear, giving equal time to singles such as "Throwing It All Away" and "I Can't Dance" and relatively obscure older tunes such as "Firth of Fifth" and "Los Endos."

Granted, the latter songs were far from unfamiliar to many of the longtime fans in Saturday's near sell-out crowd, who roared when Collins, 56, announced the band was going to play "some really, really old songs" before launching into a medley that contained "In the Cage," "The Cinema Show" and "Afterglow." With Collins and Thompson doing double duty on the drums, Rutherford strapped into his double-neck guitar and Banks nailing his intricate keyboard runs, it was indeed like seeing the Genesis of long, long ago.

But there were many nods to the band's more recent past, as well. After opening with the 1980-era instrumental "Behind the Lines," the band played "No Son of Mine" and "Land of Confusion." Later it pulled out the big guns, playing "Invisible Touch," "Throwing It All Away" and "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" for those in the crowd who may have known the band only for its '80s radio singles (and may have come away disappointed by the 2½-hour show's high ratio of '70s prog-rock excursions).

Banks and Rutherford nailed their parts as expected, but it was the confident, amiable Collins who led the night, engaging the crowd in sing-alongs, taking pictures from the stage and switching back and forth between singing songs from the front of the stage and laying down his trademark big beats from behind a second drum kit. He even sang one tune — "Follow You, Follow Me" — while drumming. He was in fine voice all night.

Those who deride Genesis for its simple pop songs simply aren't paying attention: The band has always been about its instrumental excursions as much as its tender love songs. Collins singing "Hold On My Heart" was a nice moment to put an arm around your significant other, but much more thrilling were the instrumental "Los Endos" and the solo sections of songs such as "Home By the Sea."

Playing on a high-tech, shiny metal stage in front of projected visuals both of the band in younger days and odd animated characters, Genesis proved 15 years away from the road hasn't hurt its sound a bit — and put June's Police reunion show at the Can to shame.

© Dailycameta, by Greg Glasgow

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