The difference between Genesis, the group, and Phil Collins, the solo artist, is quite large. But not nearly as large as the difference between the early 1970s Peter Gabriel-fronted art-rock iteration of the group and the Phil Collins-fronted pop juggernaut that the group became in the '80s.
It's the trio version of the group with original members Collins at the mike stand and behind the drums, guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks that is currently touring North America. Genesis' Turn It on Again Tour will stop at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Saturday night.
The current reunion tour began as an idea that would have sent the early era fans into orgasmic art-rock fits and left the hit lovers out in the cold.
A few years ago, the classic quintet version of Genesis (with Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett) were in talks to get together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band's 1974 concept double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Gabriel's final album with the band.
(It was during that tour that Gabriel, in an orange room at the famous old Swingos Hotel in Cleveland, told the rest of the group he was leaving, which left the door open for the Collins era to begin.)
However, Gabriel, who expressed interest in the reunion idea, said he was too busy at the time recording and planning a new album and tour.
"Here it is four years later, and there's still no new album and no tour," Collins told the Ottawa Citizen last week.
"We weren't surprised, actually. I think Peter would like to do it, but he just won't commit to it."
Gabriel's absence automatically eliminated Hackett from any reunion plans. Despite being a part of the band's first post-Gabriel album the popular Collins-fronted A Trick of the Tail its follow-up, the less popular Wind & Wuthering and the live Seconds Out albums, the idea of taking the quartet version of Genesis on the road was never a consideration by fans or the band.
The remaining three had more commercial success than any other version of Genesis, pushing the band's records-sold numbers past 150 million and unleashing a string of hits that peppered the airwaves throughout the '80s.
Many fans of the band's early art-rock catalog find much of the latter-era Genesis to be risible pop pabulum while fans of the pop songs tend to yawn at the early band's epic compositions, such as The Knife, Watcher of the Skies and the nearly 30-minute Supper's Ready.
With no new album to support, the trio, augmented by longtime sidemen Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar, has attempted to put together a set list that serves both its fan bases. Because there aren't too many places in the band's recorded history where the two fan groups meet, there is likely to be some disappointment on both sides.
The current set list that makes up the nearly three-hour show does not include songs from the 1981 album Abacab and several well-known songs, such as That's All and Paperlate.
Since landing the tour in the States, the band is unlikely to change many of the tunes because its innovative and legendary light show and films do not allow for much variation.
So here is what fans can expect at the show. Feel free to time bathroom/concession stand trips according to your tastes:
Duke and Turn It on Again The former is a medley of Behind the Lines and the instrumental Duke's End, and the latter is the classic-rock radio staple and commercial jingle, both from the 1980 album Duke. For many fans, this album signifies the last gasp for the ambitious and arty Genesis. Turn It on Again and the Collins-written ballad Misunderstanding (also from Duke, but not on the set list) form the mission statement of Genesis, the hit-making pop group. Strategically, this combo should get everyone in the arena on the same page.
No Son of Mine Fairly popular single from the band's final charting album, 1992's I Can't Dance.
Land of Confusion An up-tempo hit written by Rutherford from the 1983 album Genesis that frets over the state of the world. The song was recently covered by mediocre metal band Disturbed, for which it was also a hit.
In the Cage/The Cinema Show/Duke's Travels/Afterglow This is the portion of the evening that will separate the prog-rockin' men from the pop-loving boys. A lengthy medley of classic tracks melding early favorites from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, 1973's Selling England by the Pound, Duke and 1976's Wind and Wuthering.
The band has performed some form of medley based on In the Cage since the late '70s. This is where the stoic and static Banks will unleash his serpentine keyboard lines, the light show should intensify and the old-schoolers are sure to stand up, pump their fists and laugh derisively at the pop fans making their way to the concession stand.
Hold on My Heart A popular R&B-flavored ballad from I Can't Dance that resembles a lot of the AAA-friendly soundtrack work that Collins has done as a solo artist over the years. It's a pretty boring tune but makes a pleasant welcome back for those returning to their seats and is a nice segue into . . .
Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea A twofer from the Genesis album. The former sports a light funk groove that becomes a more formal dirge for the second part, which is an instrumental and should feature some nice guitar work from Rutherford and/or Stuermer.
Follow You, Follow Me The first hit for the trio version of Genesis from the 1978 album And Then There Were Three. The simple love song written by Banks and Rutherford has been a popular concert and radio staple for Genesis. Expect Collins to encourage the audience to sing along.
Firth of Fifth/I Know What I Like Another medley with a nod toward the old-schoolers. Firth, in all its nine-minute epic grandeur, is also from Selling England, but its partner, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), will bond the art-rockers and pop lovers, as it has been an anchor of the set list for much of the band's existence. It's also the part of the show where Collins does his famous acrobatic tambourine dance that never fails to hype the crowd.
Mama The ominous, sparse and spooky hit song from Genesis should feature some of the scariest lighting effects of the evening.
Ripples An interesting ballad choice from A Trick of the Tail. Not terribly popular with many old-schoolers, who, given the choice, might have voted for the complex time signatures of Dance on a Volcano or the humorous Robbery, Assault and Battery from the same album.
Throwing It All Away One of two No. 1 songs from the No. 1 album Invisible Touch and another opportunity for old-schoolers to bah humbug.
Domino Banks' extended multipart anti-war song from Invisible Touch that features a poppy vocal section and changes in tempo, which on the record is marred by the '80s synth sounds that simply have not aged very well.
Drum duet Collins and Thompson (who before Genesis played with fusion giants Weather Report and Frank Zappa and Collins' solo bands) have been doing duets since Thompson joined the touring band in the mid-1970s. If the idea of any kind of drum solo makes you cringe, take heart, because it is truly a duet a well-arranged and well-performed drum composition not just two drummers trying to out-paradiddle each other.
Los Endos Another favorite of the old-schoolers, this instrumental serves as the epilogue to the A Trick of the Tail album and will give Collins and Thompson more chances to wow concert-goers with their furious drum flurries.
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight/Invisible Touch A quick medley of hits melding the crawling Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, which sold beer for a few years, with the incredibly poppy Invisible Touch, which was the group's other No. 1 hit in America. This is a good spot for the old-schoolers to go for a bathroom break and complain to one another.
I Can't Dance From the album of the same name and the last with Collins. It's a light bluesy rock tune.
Carpet Crawlers The group ends with one last gasp for the old-schoolers. This delicate ballad, featuring Banks raining arpeggios from Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, is a fan favorite and was another staple of the band's concert repertoire until 1980.
© Beacon Journal, by Malcolm X Abram