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Genesis tour lacks Gabriel, Hackett

It should be a moot point. But when Collins, keyboard-player Tony Banks and bass guitarist Mike Rutherford, with drummer Chester Thompson and guitarist Daryl Stuermer, crank up their Turn It On Again concert, there will be a few grumpy diehards looking for Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett.

Mind you, selling 150 million records to become one of the top-five-selling bands of all time goes a long way to ease some of the shame of being accused for the last 30 years of being one of the biggest sellouts in music.

Call this the evolution, or devolution of a band called Genesis.

In the beginning, there was a young band of progressive rockers whose music was unlike anything anyone had ever heard, with arrangements only a virtuoso could perform and a charismatic singer who wore theatrical costumes and sang about mythological figures.

True to its name, Genesis inspired a near-religious following with two albums in the early 1970s, Trespass and Nursery Cryme.

For one 16-year-old in 1973, seeing Genesis perform at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto was like a musical version of the fantasy board game Dungeons & Dragons. I can still see Gabriel in Day-Glo makeup and bat's wings on his head singing Watcher of the Skies and as the withered old man of the mythological fable Supper's Ready.

Incidentally, videos of those performances have recently popped up on YouTube.

Not many bands inspire their own imitators, but a couple years ago, I saw the wonderfully eccentric Genesis tribute band The Musical Box.

Not surprisingly, Lac Leamy's Theatre was buzzing with excited middle-aged men, most who, like myself I imagine, had long dreamt of one day seeing Genesis play their 1973 portrait of a battered and bruised Britain, Selling England By The Pound, or their swan-song, the epic tribute to America The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. But there comes a time when even a hard-bitten Genesis fan has to move on.

For the band, that time came in 1976 with the group's first post-Gabriel release A Trick of the Tail and the Emily Bronte-inspired romance Wind and Wuthering. Each record carried on with Gabriel's spirit.

But after guitarist Hackett left the band, the remaining three members released the more commercial album ...And Then There Were Three, which had their first real radio hit with Follow You Follow Me.

Soon after, Collins released the multi-platinum solo record Face Value in 1981 while the band scored two top-10 hits, Misunderstanding and Turn It On Again, from the album Duke. Once they began hitting the top of the charts, there was no stopping them. In 1986, spurred in part by Collins' incredible popularity as a solo artist, Genesis released its highest-selling record, Invisible Touch.

For many of their earliest fans, it was shocking how far the band had fallen creatively.

Now, 15 years after finally packing it in, Genesis is touring again with Turn It On Again, a two-CD retrospective that spans both versions of the band.

The reviews have been generally good. The two-hour-plus show is visually dazzling and the boys are in the mood to play.

But, mark my words, this is only a warm-up for a larger tour next year with Gabriel and Hackett.

Then, everyone will be happy.

© Sun Media, by Denis Armstrong

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