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Genesis shows it still has the knack

Oh, there were sing-alongs and clap-your-hands-and-say-yeah ditties from the '80s and early '90s, to be sure, including Land of Confusion, I Can't Dance and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.

And there was ingratiating bonding with the locals: singer/drummer Phil Collins leading an Ohio State 'O-H!-I-O!' cheer.

But in a two-and-a-half-hour, multimedia/multi-sensory spectacle -- a program that hasn't been altered since the tour began in June in Europe -- Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford, drummer Chester Thompson and guitarist/bassist Daryl Stuermer served up the familiar pop hits as sort of palette cleansers for the audience before unloading their adventuresome symphonic rock.

A more Jekyll-and-Hyde act would be hard to find. More important, a band with dichotomy like this that can make a show work so well is hard to think of.

Beginning with the theatrical instrumental Behind the Lines, with Collins behind a drum kit he would man on and off all evening, the band laid into the pulsing Turn it on Again. The pair of tunes, from the 1980 album Duke, the group's first album to hint of more sugary pop things to come in the MTV age, set the stage for the night.

From then on, it would be this way: meticulously orchestrated rock with delicate passages giving way to bombastic crescendos set to abstract video displays and temporarily blinding, computer-programmed lights. And then, for kicks, eight-minute epics such as Ripples and medleys creatively blended to touch upon music from the Peter Gabriel era (pre-‘76).

Collins, Banks, Rutherford and company, in their first tour in 15 years, move about the stage the way most men in their late ‘50s do or should, which is to say they are not the most colorful or emotive characters.

Who cares? Collins remains a terrific drummer, demonstrating his skills with Thompson in a drum battle. Rutherford and Stuermer remain of the school of precise and economical note-slinging. And Banks remains the stoic base of the band, guiding it through feathery pieces and cacophonous rock alike.

The show ended the way it began: pop and progressive rock side by side.

After encore No. 1 (I Can't Dance) Collins introduced The Carpet Crawlers (from the band's progressive-rock masterpiece from 1974, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), which he called "a very special song in the Genesis history."

"We've been coming to Columbus since 1973 when we played the Agora (now the Newport Music Hall)," Collins said, a tad hoarse from belting it out in fine form during a 2-and-a-half hour show. "Every time we've been back you've been great to us. Thank you very much."

© The Columbus Dispatch, by Aaron Beck

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