This, too, is at least partially ridiculous. But hell hath no fury like an old-school Genesis fan spurned.
That this is all a tad bit unfair is doubtless not lost on Collins, who has soldiered on through an incredibly successful solo career and, up until 15 years ago, continued to lead Genesis through its epic stage shows and increasingly less epic studio recordings, despite the back-biting in the broader Genesis community. Platinum records have a way of easing the strain of losing one’s hipster credibility, after all.
Surely, as Genesis brings its “Turn It on Again” reunion tour to HSBC Arena on Saturday evening, there will be some in attendance who’ve come under protest. “I’m only here to hear the old stuff,” one can imagine these bearded and pony-tailed arbiters of prog-rock taste sniffing as they take their seats. To which Collins might sternly sigh, by way of reply, “More fool them.”
In the beginning...
Some history, for those who’ve managed to stumble through all these years without knowing the story of this legendary group of English public school musos.
Genesis met in the late 1960s at a respected English school known as Charterhouse. Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Anthony Phillips formed a group that was almost immediately breathtaking in its ability to meld ambitious themes to pastoral melodies and classical music structures.
Phillips left and was replaced by guitarist Steve Hackett early on. Collins showed up later to take over the drum throne. The band made its first masterpiece, “Trespass,” in 1970; released the even more ambitious “Nursery Cryme” and “Foxtrot” in short order; and by 1973 had made itself known as the most wonderfully idiosyncratic band of the decade. This was partly due to Gabriel’s mind-bending blend of onstage theatrics, transcendent storytelling abilities and keen ear for heart-tugging melodies, but also because everyone in Genesis was both a virtuoso musician and an elevated songwriter.
“Selling England by the Pound” upped the ante, and then “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” cashed in and grabbed the whole kitty, its boldly imaginative overarching narrative theme and sublime musical structure dwarfing all of the competition in the progrock field, save the Yes that was busy pumping out the likes of “Close to the Edge” and “Tales From Topographic Oceans.”
Gabriel, fearful of becoming stuck in his image, gave his notice and embarked on what would become a profound solo career. The faithful could not imagine a Genesis sans Gabriel, and they prepared for the worst.
What they got instead was “A Trick of the Tail,” which found Collins singing like a particularly gifted bird, and Hackett, Rutherford and Banks providing a wall of intricate sound as compelling as anything they’d conjured behind Gabriel. “Wind and Wuthering” was just as good. The live album “Seconds Out” captured the early post-Gabriel days in all their splendor. So far, so good.
The Collins mix
For many, “And Then There Were Three...” marked the beginning of the end, however. Hackett left the band — hence the album’s title — and Collins, Rutherford and Banks decided to carry on with a will. The record gave Genesis its first big pop hit in “Follow You Follow Me” and hinted on the bold blend of progressive rock and pop that would make “Duke” an artistic and commercial smash.
By “Abacab,” Collins was becoming a fine pop songwriter, and he launched a solo career predicated on exactly this notion. In the ’80s, Collins was everywhere at once. The band’s efforts “Three Sides Live” (great), “Genesis” (quite good) and “Invisible Touch” (not so good) rounded out the decade, by which time one had little trouble imagining dudes in their rapidly fading “Seconds Out” tour shirts nearing age 40 and pulling out their remaining hair over the relentless “mainstreaming” of their beloved band.
Collins, Rutherford and Banks celebrated the birth of the ’90s with “We Can’t Dance” — an album widely interpreted as the final insult by the old-guard Genesis fan — toured successfully and then broke up. Collins split, carried on his solo career — with the added bonus of writing for film — and didn’t seem to be feeling too nostalgic for the past. Rutherford had Mike & the Mechanics. Banks laid relatively low, though he and Rutherford recruited vocalist Ray Wilson for the Genesis album “Calling All Stations” — “And Then There Were Two...” might’ve been a better title — and toured a bit.
So the announcement — hot on the heels of an intensive deluxe reissue campaign of the band’s post-Gabriel catalog — that Collins, Rutherford and Banks, along with fully tenured touring musicians guitarist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson, would tour the world once again came as a bit of a shock. There had been rumblings about a full-on reunion with Gabriel at the helm, but not surprisingly, these came to naught. Genesis fans had likely resigned themselves to life without the band. Yet, here they are, in Buffalo, fresh from a successful European jaunt this summer.
What can we expect on Saturday? I’ve no interest in spoiling the set list, but let’s put it this way: That guy in the “Seconds Out” T-shirt? He’ll be in his glory for more than half of the show.
© The Buffalo News, by Jeff Miers