The Invisible Touch Tour, Genesis' biggest ever, coincided with the release of that album, which went on to be certified 6 x platinum by the RIAA. With a string of sold-out arena shows, the band was cast into the same league as concert stalwarts like the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead. A must-have for any Genesis fan, Live At Wembley Stadium showcases Genesis at the enormous peak of their popularity.
|3.||Domino (Part 1: In The Glow Of The Night)|
|4.||Domino (Part 2: The Last Domino)|
|7.||Land Of Confusion|
|8.||Tonight, Tonight, Tonight|
|9.||Throwing It All Away|
|10.||Home By The Sea|
|14.||Turn It On Again|
- Direct Scene Access
- Interactive Menu
- Tour Documentary
- Photo Gallery
- Tour Program
Or maybe not. To me, it always seemed like Collins was substantially more popular in the mid-Eighties than Genesis, a fact somewhat borne out by the sales of their 1986 release, Invisible Touch. While the album did well, it didn’t match up with the success of Jacket, and Genesis began to come across as Collins’ ugly stepsister.
Although Collins sold more records on his own than with the band, the situation reversed when it came to their touring success. Unquestionably, Collins moved a lot of tickets as a solo act, but he couldn’t compete with the sales ability of Genesis. Very few acts ever have been big enough to play stadiums, but Genesis did just that in 1987.
In fact, the group proved so popular with concertgoers that they did a whopping four shows at London’s famed Wembley Stadium. This moved about 288,000 tickets in all, which remains a pretty remarkable feat. Granted, it doesn’t compare with the roughly 750,000 tickets Bruce Springsteen sold in New York/New Jersey during 2003, but it still seems terrific, especially for a band that started as a rather quirky progressive rock effort.
By 1987, however, Genesis remained prog rock mostly in name, as Collins’ pop tendencies dominated their work. Live at Wembley Stadium documents their highly successful four-night stand and also shows the two sides of Genesis, as it highlights both their pop tones and their more offbeat work.
When we look at the DVD’s setlist, we find a mix of sources, most of which favored the band’s then-recent history. They toured behind Touch, and it provided six songs: the title track, "Land of Confusion", "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", "The Brazilian", "Domino" Parts 1 and 2, and "Throwing It All Away". The band’s prior effort was 1983’s Genesis, and from it we got "Mama", "Home By the Sea", and "That’s All". 1981’s Abacab presented the title track, and 1980’s Duke gave us "Turn It On Again". From the band’s Seventies work, all we found was "Los Endos" from 1976’s Trick of the Tail, their first album after the departure of Peter Gabriel. ("Drum Duet" is nothing more than a live instrumental showcase with no album connection.)
Although I prefer Gabriel to Collins as a solo artist, I feel differently about the incarnations of Genesis they led. I have no interest whatsoever in Gabriel-era Genesis, and although I’m not nuts about the band with Collins at the helm, I definitely prefer their work. I don’t own much Genesis, but everything I have - Duke, Abacab and Genesis - comes from the Collins era.
Unfortunately, I think they started to flounder once Collins made it really big on his own. Invisible Touch was and remains a pretty weak album, though some of the tracks have their moments. I can’t stand the rinky-dink title song, and although the tune of "Land of Confusion" seems decent, it suffers from its dated Reagan-era politics. "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" comes across as overwrought but still fairly good, while "Throwing It All Away" presents a fairly average Collins ballad. Others tried to recapture the band’s more experimental side but just seemed thin and pointless.
Happily, the non-Invisible Touch material seems more satisfying. Though erratic, Genesis may be the band’s most consistent Collins-era album, and I really like "Mama", "That’s All" and "Home By the Sea". Both "Abacab" and "Turn It On Again" also present pretty terrific tunes. These help balance out the less compelling mid-Eighties songs, though it remains too bad that Genesis didn’t present a more diverse range of tunes.
Do the band bring any of these numbers to life in a new way during the live performances? The band finds core members Collins (drums and vocals), Mike Rutherford (guitar), and Tony Banks (keyboards) abetted by drummer Chester Thompson and bassist/guitarist Daryl Stuermer.
I saw Genesis during their 1987 tour when they did a show at DC’s RFK Stadium. I remember virtually nothing about this concert, which might give you an indication of how memorable it was. Frankly, a stadium simply seems like too big a setting for this sort of group, especially since they do very little to open up the stage. They used no real theatrical deliver the visuals to the cheap seats, which makes this a dull concert to watch most of the time.
Collins does display a fairly charismatic personality, but it can take him only so far in this big a place. Someone like Springsteen does fine in stadiums because he’s a big, physical presence. Collins falls more into a stand-up comic mode, and that fails to translate well to such a large environment. The theatrics espoused by Gabriel would have worked better, as the Collins-led Genesis doesn’t have enough gusto to fill an enormous venue.
Musically, the show seems more than adequate. As already noted, the concert relies heavily on Genesis’ Eighties songbook, which makes sense for a number of reasons. For one, they wanted to emphasize the better known material, as huge audiences don’t often sit still for obscurities. In addition, the setlist favors the band’s more pop-oriented side, which also works better in this setting. I can’t imagine extended esoteric tracks going over well in front of 70,000 people.
The band help embellish the recorded tracks nicely. For the most part the arrangements stay fairly close to the original versions, but they open them up a bit and give them a little more life. As for those Invisible Touch songs I never much liked, they fared okay. "Domino" feels too plodding for the stadium and "Brazilian" also falls flat, but most of the others work as big sing-alongs. The grand audience reception helps overcome some of their flaws.
For the most part, director Jim Yukich replicates the concert with reasonable accuracy. He doesn’t favor quick-cutting and gimmicks, so we see the material displayed in a fairly concise and logical way. At times this makes it a little on the dull side, but I must admit there’s only so much Yukich can do to overcome the naturally low-key nature of the stage presentation.
All of this makes Live at Wembley Stadium a reasonably enjoyable document of a remarkable concert stand. I can’t say much about it stood out to me as terribly memorable or exciting, but the show presented a mix of good songs and somewhat bland ones and seemed like a generally entertaining experience.
Genesis: Live at Wembley Stadium appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 5:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A fairly mediocre picture, the image suffered from few obvious flaws but it came across as generally bland.
Sharpness caused the main concerns. Close-ups seemed reasonably detailed and concise, but shots that went farther out than that started to encounter problems. Much of the show appeared moderately soft and ill defined, and it never became terribly distinctive even at its best. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering cropped up, though, and I also noticed no issues with edge enhancement. As for source flaws, I saw a few marks and a hair or two, but the show mostly looked clean and free from defects.
As with most live performances, the majority of the colors came from on-stage lighting. The band wore fairly monochrome clothes, so they did little to enliven the affair. The lights presented somewhat loose and runny tones, though they could have been murkier. Nonetheless, the hues were pretty mediocre. Blacks also seemed a bit pale and without much definition, but shadows were reasonably well-defined. The issues with sharpness made some of those look hazy, but the depiction of low-light material seemed fairly strong otherwise. Ultimately, the picture of Wembley failed to stand out as particularly positive, though it also never become genuinely bad.
Happily, the soundtracks of Live at Wembley Stadium fared much better and presented some terrific audio. The DVD included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. I noticed very few differences between the two. The DTS edition offered slightly stronger bass response, but not by a lot. Overall, the pair remained very similar.
The soundfield seemed well executed. As one might expect, most of the audio stayed in the forward channels. They displayed good stereo imaging and spread the music smoothly across the front. Various instruments seemed appropriately placed and meshed together cleanly. The surrounds added crowd noise mostly, but some mild instrumentation also occasionally appeared back there to give the track a nice sense of dimensionality.
Audio quality appeared terrific. Vocals presented a little appropriate stadium reverb but mostly remained nicely direct, and they sounded smooth and natural. The various instruments enjoyed good definition and delineation, and it was simple to make out each one from the other. Drums snapped crisply while keyboards demonstrated accurate tones. Guitars were tight and bright, and the entire package featured excellent bass response. Low-end seemed warm and vibrant, without any looseness or boominess. In the end, Wembley sounded great and merited a strong "A-".
A smattering of extras fills out the DVD. First we find a 16-and-a-half minute documentary. It promises a "backstage" look at the tour and includes behind the scenes shots and concert snippets as well as comments from members Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, and Phil Collins plus extra musicians Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer. They chat about selecting the set list, some remarks about a few songs, the lighting, the extra tour members, life on the road, soundchecks, and the band’s future.
The program never becomes terribly fascinating, but it’s a reasonably entertaining piece. The comments add a little understanding, and the behind the scenes shots offer some fun. Too many show shots pop up, though at least a few of them present tunes we don’t hear in the main program, which makes them more valuable. Don’t expect anything amazing here, but it’s worth a look.
Next we find a stillframe replication of the 1987 tour’s programme. We see all of the photos and text, and it’s a fun piece. In addition, we get a Photo Gallery with 20 shots. These offer a moderately interesting mix of publicity and concert pictures.
Finally, Wembley offers a 12-page booklet. This includes some photos as well as DVD credits.
Found at the peak of their commercial success, Genesis play for enormous crowds in Live at Wembley Stadium. This doesn’t find them at their best, mainly because the show accentuates some of their less-memorable work, but it fares fairly well as a night of pop music. The DVD offers generally mediocre picture but makes up for this with excellent audio. A small roster of supplements fills out this package. Fans of Eighties Genesis will enjoy this decent DVD.
© By Colin Jacobson
- Actors: Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Chester Thompson, Daryl Stuermer
- Directors: Jim Yukich
- Producers: Tony Smith, Paul Flattery, Melissa Stokes
- Format: Color, Live, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dts 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Release Date: Wednesday, 24 March 2004
- Run Time: 120 minutes