Last night, as Genesis played their 1973 quasi-hit “I Know What I Like” at the Hartford Civic Center, images from the group’s past appeared on a giant screen. We saw a young, rail-thin Peter Gabriel dressed in a ridiculous flower costume; an even more ridiculous Slipperman costume from the 1975 Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour; and former guitarist Steve Hackett playing alongside a tambourine-wielding Phil Collins (looking like an Ewok crossed with an elf) shortly after Collins took over for Gabriel on vocals in 1976.
It’s a past that the band has come to terms with: On recent tours, the band’s proggy Seventies songs were relegated to a few lines in a medley, if not dropped entirely to make room for latterday pop tunes like “That’s All” and “In Too Deep.” That was not the case last night, their first tour with Collins in fifteen years. Collins, who has been critical of the band’s early work over the years, performed the ancient numbers with the gusto of his counterpart on the screen, albeit with much less hair and a little more paunch.
The show kicked off with a medley of instrumentals from their 1980 LP Duke. Collins was behind the drum kit, where he would be for about a quarter of the nearly three-hour show. The rest of the night alternated comfortably between 1980s hits (“Land of Confusion,” “Invisible Touch”), proggy epic album tracks (“Home By The Sea,” “Domino”) and Peter Gabriel era material “(In The Cage,” “The Carpet Crawlers”). The smoke and mirrors of previous tours has been replaced by a slightly more toned-down stage consisting of a single gigantic PopMart-style screen and a modest series of flashing lights. Founding members Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks were supplemented by drummer Chester Thompson and guitarist/bassist Daryl Struemer, who have both been with the band since 1978. The only bummer of the night was that some of the more epic songs had to be shortened. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” lost its entire second half, while “Firth of Fifth” lost its first three quarters. There’s only one way to make sure that songs like “Firth” get properly aired: Collins has said that he would do a tour behind the drum kit if Peter Gabriel were in front of it. Peter, if you’re reading this, it’s time to submit to your prog destiny.
© Rolling Stone, by Andy Greene