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This version of Genesis takes pages from its past

For this, fans largely owe thanks (or brickbats) to a onetime member who isn't even part of the tour: original vocalist Peter Gabriel. Before the reformation was announced, Gabriel and former guitarist Steve Hackett were invited to join what would've been a regrouping of the band's daring prog-rock lineup of the early and mid-'70s. Gabriel declined. His decision rendered Hackett's involvement moot and further impacted the current outing by ensuring that the key participants were those that steered Genesis in an arena-pop direction.

While the group's later MTV-oriented period didn't hurt for representation, older songs provided a majority of the highlights. Chances for adventure increased every time Rutherford strapped on a double-neck guitar. Augmented by guitarist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson, Genesis attacked "In the Cage" and "Los Endos" with an urgency missing from its softer hits. When seated behind the drums, Collins made a formidable rhythmic tandem with Thompson. The bald singer has lost a touch of his upper range but managed to capture the madcap laughs of "Mama" and sense of longing on "Afterglow."

Yet the grand majesty and engaging complexity of tunes such as "Ripples" only exaggerated the elevator-music emptiness of fluff like "Hold On My Heart." Immediate transitions from early to later period works were jarring to the extent that Genesis' lite rock seemed appropriate for the party deck of a cruise ship while its ambitious, multi-dimensional fare journeyed toward another dimension.

© Chicagotribune, by Bob Gendron

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