And lo, there was much rejoicing.
Collins sang and, from time to time, thwacked a drum kit. Mike Rutherford, son of Crawford, played guitar and bass. Tony Banks, son of John, noodled around on keyboards.
The trinity was backed by faithful sidemen Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson.
A technician said, "Let there be light," and there were spotlights in many colors amid wisps of theatrical fog. The sound was muddy at first, yet it did not deter the 15,000 faithful from singing along with "Turn It On Again."
Then Collins said, "We're going to be here quite a while. Don't peak too early."
The resolve of the multitude was tested with "Land of Confusion." Great was the temptation to go wild, but fans heeded the "Thou shalt not peak too early" commandment.
Then Collins said, "Apart from us, any other old people out there tonight? Good, because we're going to play some very, very old songs."
The band made good on this promise with a 15-minute medley of ancient tunes, including "In the Cage," "The Cinema Show" and "Duke's Travels."
And lo, it got kind of boring, except for the virtual sunset during "Afterglow."
Collins jabbed a finger angrily in the air as he belted out "No Son of Mine." So much for honoring thy father.
"Ha-ha! Ha!" Collins laughed diabolically in the middle of "Mama." So much for honoring thy mother, too.
No servant can serve two masters, yet the band tried its darnest, as its conflicted soul found itself caught in an epic struggle between the forces of prog and the forces of pop.
For every show-offy "Firth of Fifth/I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" extravaganza, there was a catchier and more concise "Follow You, Follow Me." For every convoluted "Los Endos" jam, there was a simpler pleasure such as "Hold On My Heart." For every prog rarity along the lines of "Ripples," there were pop hits such as "Throwing It All Away" and "Invisible Touch."
Those extremes were difficult to reconcile at times during the 2½-hour performance, but true believers were up for anything, be it a two-headed extended rhythmic showcase by Collins and Thompson, or a fleeting yet amusing tambourine solo by Collins.
Then Collins said, "We've come to the end of our evening together."
Both sides of the band revealed themselves again during the encore. And lo, the prog of "The Carpet Crawlers" and the pop of "I Can't Dance" were met with more rejoicing, before the mass exodus.
© Cleveland, by John Soeder