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Genesis still has that invisible touch

In the beginning the sound was dreadful and it was not good, as hollow echoes surrounded Collins's voice during opening numbers such as "Land of Confusion."

The mix improved incrementally as the band toggled between their disparate styles in front of a massive glittering video screen, which had the unintended effect of making all but Collins seem inert.

Of course, since the long ago departure of Gabriel, the members of Genesis have hardly been known for their stage antics, but instead for their big, rich, and elaborate songs.

And they played a lot of those in a deeply bizarre but ultimately satisfying set list that might not have served all of the band's masters, but got the point across that these guys can still play.

While some fans were in nirvana during the chunky staccato keyboard riffage of "Firth of Fifth" from way back in 1973, others were in line for the restroom. The slight sway of the adult contemporary '90s ballad "Hold on My Heart" was a cue for some to cuddle and others to chat, loudly.

The places where opinion seemed unanimous also tended to be the night's best performances.

The light-footed and lighthearted "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)," accompanied by endearingly scruffy images of Genesis past, and the lovely send off of "Carpet Crawlers" were highs among the oldies with Collins doing his famed tambourine jig during the former and giving a sweetly nuanced performance of the latter.

The menacing "Mama" - complete with curdled "Ha, ha ha!" howls and raw, nerve-ending keyboards - represented the '80s with surprisingly funky dread.

Collins and second drummer Chester Thompson acquitted themselves handily on the customary drum duel with perhaps a few more grimaces but not a beat lost. Daryl Stuermer contributed on bass and on guitar solos, elaborate and simple.

But still it was hard to fathom why the group would choose to include such universally maligned late-in-the-game trifles as "I Can't Dance," while songs like "Abacab" and "Misunderstanding" went begging.

But even if they were not all things to all people, and once again proved that they can't dance, the gentlemen of Genesis proved that they can still play.

© Globe Staff, by Sarah Rodman

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