Log in

Review: Genesis turns it on again -- lightly

The concert lasted nearly three hours and, in all, served as a great synopsis of the band itself. The set was split between heavy prog-rock numbers and lightweight pop tunes, neither of which, at least to this critic's ears, were all that interesting without the band's original vocalist, Peter Gabriel.

The marked divider that exists in Genesis' career is as great as any in music history. There is the Gabriel-led Genesis, which helped define prog-rock with such works as 1974's "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," and then there is Phil Collins' crew, which achieved huge mainstream success with the likes of 1986's "Invisible Touch."

Where fans stood in regard to that border obviously dictated how much they enjoyed the concert. There were some aspects about the performance, however, that even the biggest Gabriel devotee couldn't help but enjoy.

For one thing, this version of Genesis -- featuring vocalist-drummer Collins, guitarist-bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks, as well as longtime tour mates, guitarist-bassist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson -- should be applauded for putting on a great sounding show.

The concert mix was near studio quality, perhaps the best I've heard at the Shark Tank, and the songs sounded as if they were being played on a really good home stereo. Credit that to the sound engineers, of course, but also to the players, who are, above all else, seasoned pros and perfectionists.

Also, the stage set looked phenomenal -- a trademark of the Genesis concert experience -- as the band performed in what resembled a cut out in a giant speaker cabinet.

Following an opening instrumental segment taken from the 1980 album "Duke," Collins leapt from his drum set and took center stage to lead the band through, appropriately enough, "Turn It On Again." The group showed no signs of rust after its long layoff from touring as it continued through "No Son of Mine" and "Land of Confusion." Indeed, it was like Genesis had gone into some form of deep sleep around 1991 and had been waiting all these years for somebody to simply "Turn It On Again."

Unfortunately, that didn't mean that the later-era songs were any more interesting in 2007 than when they were first released. Insipid tracks like "Hold On My Heart" and "Throwing It All Away" still sound more like bad Styx or good Christopher Cross than the best of Genesis.

Like seemingly all Genesis gigs since the mid-'70s, this one was the Phil Collins show. He told jokes, hammed it up for the cameras and never really relinquished the spotlight. He even did an old school dance routine with a tambourine, banging it against his feet, hand and head. I realize that this kind of corny bit has a long history of pleasing crowds -- but, then again, so did throwing Christians to the lions. This guy just doesn't know when to stop and it wouldn't have been a shocker if he'd followed by bringing dogs to the stage to chase Frisbees.

All of the goofing around and plethora of lightweight pop numbers turned out to be detrimental to the more artsy prog-rock compositions. It was hard to take, for example, the "Lamb Lies Down" track "In the Cage" seriously when it came served in a stew of clownish maneuvers and songs so sappy that Kenny G wouldn't touch them.

The main set closed with Genesis' fluffiest pop number, "Invisible Touch," which even 20 seconds of accompanying fireworks couldn't save from being anticlimactic. A two-song encore of "I Can't Dance" and "The Carpet Crawlers" followed and then, for better or worse, Genesis decided it was time to turn it off again.

© Inside Bay Area, by Jim Harrington

Log in or Sign up