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Passion Gone In Creaky Collins & Co.

Midway through the show, bandleader Phil Collins scratched his bald noggin, squinted at the sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd and asked, "Are there any old people here . . . besides us?"

The fans who've followed the group through its many incarnations over the last 40 years cheered enthusiastically at the self-deprecating joke. But despite the band's musical virtuosity (prog-rock depends on precision), there were few songs where performance passion actually bubbled to the surface.

This did happen in a late-show triple play in which the songs "Domino" and "Los Endos" were sandwiched around a drum duet by Collins and longtime Genesis sideman Chester Thompson. That was fantastic - stunning even, compared to the rest of the performance.

Collins is a great drummer who sat at his kit intermittently during the 21/2-hour show. When he was there - whether or not he was singing - the music sparked with life.

Keyboardist Tony Banks was a nonentity at the Garden, with the exception of his work on the song "The Cinema Show," which was played fairly early in the set. Gangly guitarist Mike Rutherford offered a performance that was level and square but hardly inspired.

Where this show was consistently outstanding was in its production, from the intricate set featuring a huge, wraparound video screen, to the top-shelf sound and lighting.

No doubt Collins felt the Genesis drama getting dreary, and the sappiness factor was high with tunes like "Hold On My Heart" and "Mama." But even with hits like "I Can't Dance" and "Invisible Touch," the show as a whole never found its pace.

Phil and the boys will get another chance tonight with their gig at Giants Stadium.

© New York Post, by Dan Aquilante

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