You can say what you want about Genesis, but if you only have a little interest in music history, you just can't ignore them. You might not like them, true, but they have achieved and given so much to music history that it would be completely wrong to reduce them to the Phil-Collins-driven mainstream vehicle that they have admittedly become during their latter years. Just remember that they released their debut album in 1969 when no one really knew about mainstream! And Collins might be a member of Genesis, but he is not Genesis!
So when Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Tony Banks announced their reunion tour last year, I took the news in with great pleasure, but also with a slice of sceptic. I started to follow the band around the Mama-era, long after Peter Gabriel has left the band, and discovered the older works only years later. But nowadays, I'm really more into the old stuff than the newer one, which doesn't mean that I don't like the new stuff at all. There were just too many pop songs amongst the really good tunes; perfect pop songs, yes, but in the end just pop songs. So of course I was hoping that Genesis will not only concentrate on their most successful works (which were the newer pop-songs), but will also include some of that good, old progressive rock that they used to do in the beginning.
When the setlist of the first 2007 concerts popped up on the Net, I heaved a sigh of relief. The mix seemed to be well-balanced, and most of the reviews were stating that the band laid more attention on the progressive side. And the shows themselves were very entertaining and well-received by the audience. All that made me want to go to the concert even more!
So Sunday came, and it was time for the Genesis Reunion Gig in Switzerland. The setlist was the same as at the concerts before (find the complete list below), so no surprises there. I won't go through all the songs now, I'll just pick out some of the highlights. The stage itself was impressive, with two big screens on either side. We grabbed a spot just under the roof of the stadium (it started raining about 2 hours before the concert), and had a good view of the stage. And then it began...
We were taken on a journey through the band's musical history, and it was true that quite a few songs were from the earlier years of Genesis. The first medley with In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke's Travels and Afterglow was nothing but brilliant and sent a first shiver down my spine. I guess they played the next song, the boring Hold On My Heart, to calm down the people in the audience who were simply overstrained by this progressive excursion (and guessing from the faces, there were quite a few!).
My next highlight was Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea, which was always one of my favourite Genesis songs, and it sure didn't disappoint here. This song will probably never cease to amaze me! Just a few minutes later (after a rather wonderful Follow You Follow Me), the first notes of the second-best guitar solo on earth (just after Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb) were played by long-time Genesis compagnion Daryl Stuermer, and for the next 9 1/2 minutes, I was in music heaven! The medley of Firth Of Fifth and I Know What I Like was simply one of the best things I've ever seen and heard in my life... goosebump central!!!
Next highlight was Ripples, another oldie, and a tune that I listened to a lot when I travelled through Australia in 1992. It was a marvellous stage setting, and the song was very well received by the whole audience, even by those who have heard it for probably the first time.
OK, this is getting quite long, so I'm finishing off by saying that the drum duet from Collins and Chester Thompson was simply amazing, Domino still is a perfect crowd-pleaser, and Invisible Touch was the perfect song to end the set (also helped by another great stage setting and some fireworks). From the encores, I really liked Carpet Crawlers more than I Can't Dance... this song has just been played too often.
So, there you have it. Collins, Banks and Rutherford have shown us that they still are capable of pulling a great show (for which they were known for in the first place), and know how to entertain a crowd. The setlist was a very pleasing one, and I guess fans of both eras had enough to enjoy. Of course I would have made some changes to the set, but so would probably everyone else in the stadium. If there's something negative to say, it's that most of the Collins-audience-interactions were pretty much the same as 15 years ago (on Throwing It All Away or Land Of Confusion for example), and that the whole affair was a bit too slick. Genesis are a well-oiled machine, and there wasn't too much space for spontaneity.
And then there were... back
by swissinfo, Marc-Andre Miserez
Enormous, the passage of Genesis at the Stage of Switzerland! This music which made plane a generation, then to dance another, kept all its power.
The concert is not less unequal. The public oscillated between polished attention and unslung enthusiasm. But this group has two public. And each one knows what he likes.
1975 ` The Lamb dregs down one Broadway', 1976 ' A Trick of the Tail', 1977 ' Wind and Wuthering'. Three rounds of Genesis, three passages in Switzerland. The following ones? Know more, I had taken down.
These dates mark the transition from the Gabriel era to the Collins era. The group still makes rock'n'roll ' progressif', on long quasi symphonic parts. But the year according to, it transfers with pop-soul-funk which will make it enter the charts and sell finally discs (160 million to date all the same)... by losing its heart, some will say.
2007 ' Turn it one again'. The Genesis is back downtown. Without disc to be sold, just for the foot, one says.
And this time, it is at the Stage of Switzerland, glowing arena beside which the antique Festhalle, places of the preceding triumphs, is nothing any more but one old sinister masonry. And so small...
A decoration for the take-off
The scene sumptuous, is prolonged by elegant pylons which culminate with 30 meters of the ground, giving the impression of take-off towards the clouds.
Low, surmounting the marchioness in plexi which shelters the musicians (and where lights beautiful arabesques braid), an immense curtain wall in the shape of vague verticals. Good easy way: where that you are around the stage, you see always at least a face of it and the images which take shape there.
Images, moreover, which one could wish more. And more daring. Damage to use such a tool high tech to project in double what each one already sees on the side screens...
But also splendid moments ago, like paintings of the ' Home by the Sea' or the pond very old England of ' Ripples' - sublime strolls, one of the great moments in the concert.
Green heart flights
Because good, one is also there for the music. Then? Then Genesis, it is powerful. Not that that swingue, not, but that pulsates, that beats with the force and the regularity of a large well oiled machine.
And effective. On titles like ' No Its of Mine', ' Invisible Touch', ' Mama' or this good large blues quite thick that is ' I can' T dance', the stage pitches of happiness and trÃ©pigne of pleasure.
It is not the case throughout show. Certain moments are less packing, and the beautiful machine seems a little to turn to vacuum. But strong times catch up with the whole.
Like this duet of battery with Chester Thompson, accomplice the three decade old. Even if it acknowledges that at 56 years and with a recent fracture of the wrist, it does not have any more the so nimble rods, Phil Collins is still there!
The two men start by typing on... the stuffing of their stools. And it is already enormous. Then they pass to the feet of cymbals, before making rain on their skins of the avalanches of dry, fast and precise blows, which resound sometimes like the tom-toms of the bush and sometimes like more the relentless of rhythmic the rock'n'roll... squared.
Power and emotion
In the instrumental passages, the group spreads out its power. Tony Banks, impeccable and imperturbable behind his keyboards, Michael Rutherford, more in the guitar that with low and Daryl Stuermer, which makes the remainder, swell the sound until disproportion - even if from now on, one does not exceed any more 100 dB.
It is impressive on ' Dukes' S End', more moving still on the final section of ' Show' Cinema and on the solo by guitar by ' ' Firth of Fifth'... and straightforwardly jouissif on ' Los Endos', medley hypertensive of the topics of excellent ' the Trick of the Tail'.
When it is not behind its barrels, Collins makes its number of clown (the tramp of ' I know what I like') and speaks much with the public. That it is intended to shake with its demonstration on the effect ' Domino - in intro of the title Ã©ponyme.
"What arrives to you at you" (while directing projectors on a portion of crowd)"will affect you" (projectors on another portion). And so on, and still and still, until each one included/understood that it is necessary to howl more extremely than the others.
"We' ve got to get in to get out"
The final one is launched. The instrumental part of the song will reach stratospheric heights. In spite of the fine rain which falls since the beginning, the stage ignites. It will have even right to the fireworks before the recall.
Then for the good-byes, it is envoÃ»tant it ' Carpet Crawlers'. Moment of grace. Here, more question of Gabriel-Collins comparison. The second sang once so much that it is also with him. And with the 40' 000 spectators of the stage, who begin again in chorus "We' ve got to get in to get out". An angel passes.
And you with the fact? Euh, me... I know what I like... and I like what I know.
I'm still having a very busy time but I really wish to finally share my comments on the Bern concert, which I attended on Sunday the 17th. So, here's my belated review of the gig.
As I entered the stadium and I rushed to the very first rows, my first impression of the stage was... "Impressive!".
I think the design is great, from wherever you're attending the show. The part where the band plays is smaller than you might think, so who's in the front rows feels as if they were in a club, whereas the rest of the audience can enjoy one of the hugest stages ever seen, because the whole thing must be half a mile long!
However, I was standing in the second row, so I didn't pay much attention to the lighting equipment and the screens, also because, in order to protect the equipment from the rain (which actually came down from not longer before the show until the end) there was a transparent plastic panel covering the area where the band played, and it partly hid the lower part of the giant screen in the middle too. The people sitting higher in the balcony had a hard time because of that panel too, because with the raindrops and the lights shining on it they couldn't see part of the band sometimes.
Anyway, apart from a few times, my eyes were on those five gentlemen up there. That's how I wanted it to be, and the guys played an unforgettable concert.
Half of my vocal cords were gone at the sight of Genesis taking the stage and then I held my breath from the moment Phil sat behind his kit to the moment he counted four with his drumsticks.
I knew the setlist already, and I expected it to be nothing but an awesome night, but ever since the first three notes of Behind The Lines I figured out I was in for an ever greater ride than I could imagine.
A few general impressions, before I start commenting the songs one by one.
First of all, Phil deserves a big big SORRY from everyone who ever doubted he could manage to sing some of the songs that are played on this tour - and I was among those people. He just sang so great! In The Cage, Domino, you name it... even Mama was fantastic. So, Phil, I'm so glad to have to apologize!
...and he got all the lyrics right, yes he did!!! He switched the two halves of the first verse on I Can't Dance, but it almost seemed intentional. Even Ripples was perfect, after its words had given him trouble on the first three nights.
The guys were very relaxed and there were lots of smiles on stage. Daryl and Mike had some good laughs when they interacted with Phil, or with each other. At one point of the show, Mike was taking a few seconds before a song to set his guitar right and Daryl looked at him with a "go back to your place!" expression and they both cracked up. I saw big smiles on Chester's face very frequently and Tony's expression was often amused as well, like when Phil took a picture of him.
It seemed to me this is the configuration of Genesis that sees its members getting along with each other the best. You could really see the fun they were having and it seems to me they're all happy to play THAT music with THOSE people again.
As I was saying, on this tour Phil uses his camera. He takes pictures of the audience a few times every night, using these moments to introduce some songs. I hope those pictures will end up on this site or on the Genesis one. The chats to the audience were both in French and German no Italian though tsk tsk - but the longer ones (Domino, Home By The Sea) were in English.
For me, there couldn't be a better way to kick off the show than some ten minutes or so from the album I listen to most often.
The Duke Suite triplet worked great! The first half of Behind The Lines went into Duke's End perfectly. I'm sure who didn't know those songs was thinking it was just one piece of music.
On the fading last synth chord of Duke's End, Mike started the riff of Turn It On Again. Now, you all must forget the pale rendition Phil did in Vegas, he was really into it this time.
No Son Of Mine is my very fave G single and I had been waiting forever to see it live, since I had to miss the WCD Tour (not my fault!). It was a strong performance and Phil's interpretation was very inspired. It was the first song about which I was a bit apprehensive, from the point of view of his voice, but he sang it as good as he did in '92.
Land Of Confusion rocks more than usual on this tour, thanks especially to Chester's more powerful drumming, now using more cymbals on this song. I liked this new idea for the arrangement and what might not be a favourite for someone became a very catchy moment of the show anyway.
A few problems with the sounds of Tony's keyboard preceded In The Cage, now back in the setlist after 20 years. I couldn't help going "wow" when Phil belted out the "outside the cage bit. Whatever he did to strengthen his voice lately, it did him good! The rendition was superb and Mike's black double-neck guitar/bass made its first appearance. I also took a look at the big screen that was showing the electronic image of the running man.
I dont remember if it was on this song or on the next one, Tony made a little mistake during one of his solos.
Cinema Show is one of the three instrumental sections (among the ones I had never seen before) that I had been waiting to see live ever since I became a fan and seeing the guys in stunning action blew me away. It's still structured as it used to be in the early 80's and on this tour it's slower than those faster-than-the-speed-of-light performances, but it's just as powerful and it's still faster than the studio version.
Something didn't seem to be quite perfect in the transition into Duke's Travels. There's a few seconds link between the two songs that someone probably didn't get right but oh well... there it was, an excerpt from Duke's Travels, a one-tour-only (1980, Duke Tour) that not many expected to return.
The bit that makes its Cage Medley debut this year is the closing couple of minutes, starting from shortly before the reprise of Guide Vocal, which is played with no... vocal, though, and with Daryl's red guitar taking over.
That was the part of the song I least expected to be played - actually, I thought they were going to do the whole previous part from the drums on - but as we know we can expect the unexpected when it comes to Genesis!
On the last drum beat of Travels, the chords changed and brought us to Afterglow. Now this one has had a special meaning to me over the last year and I won't deny I cried during this song. Phil sang it the way I would always have liked it to be sung, more powerfully than he did on Seconds Out, yet not too over-the-top like he did on Three Sides Live instead. It was perfect.
The first drum machine of the evening started Hold On My Heart, which Phil loves dearly, as we know. As you might have seen in some pictures, this year he sits on a chair when he sings it. Seeing this song from such a close distance gets you into its mood much more, I have to say. Daryl's bass lines were brilliant, Chester gave some colours to the arrangement and Phil's falsetto in the bridge was beautiful. During the extended, intense end of the song that's typical of its live versions, Tony and Daryl practically stared at each other, in order to change the chords simultaneously.
As it did in '92, Hold On My Heart also serves the purpose of the show and it's a quieter spot between two huge moments in the setlist, this year preceding Home By The Sea instead of following it.
Being the only song (other than Turn It On Again) that's always been played on every tour date since 1983 makes Home By The Sea a definite concert favourite and the Bern performance was another great one.
Phil's introduction made us lift our hands in the air and go "ooooooooh" again, but it was fairly much shorter, equally funny and a bit different, with Phil always using the word "scary" in every phrase he said. Between the second and the third verse, Phil looked at Daryl and quietly lifted his hands with a scaaaary look, which made Daryl crack up laughing once again!
I could see no electronic drums on stage, yet the sound on Second Home By The Sea was similar. Maybe it was triggered someway?
Just as I realized how many of these songs used to be highlights of the old tours and now they're all together on this "selection of shows", it was time to go back to the 70's again with another great triplet of songs.
This year, Follow You, Follow Me sees Phil singing and drumming on a whole Genesis song for the first time ever. It was so good to see and I'm sure he will sneak in more and more drum fills as the tour carries on. He also used a different kind of sticks for this song, they seemed to be thicker and they had a red tape around them instead of the usual black one. The giant screen in the middle showed animated drawings of some walking characters, among which Albert (the character on the cover of Duke) and the creature with the horns and the tail that's on the cover of Trick.
Still sitting on his drum stool, Phil kicked off the instrumental section of Firth Of Fifth. That was another of those three pieces of music I had been waiting all my life to hear - btw, the third one is Apocalypse In 9/8 from Supper's Ready... maybe next time!!!
Firth Of Fifth (the Seconds Out version of which is probably my favourite Genesis track ever) was played much as it was 15 years ago - so it was awesome! - including the way Daryl played his solo and, just like then, it was back to back with I Know What I Like.
The latter got to be performed in its entirety on this tour for the first time in 25 years, as pictures of Genesis members past and present were shown on the screen. And since this song couldn't be complete without Phil's tarantella, not only he did the dance, but he hit the tambourine so hard on his head that it caused him a cut!
Mama was another highlight of the show. Once again, you might fear Phil's voice couldn't make it and yet he sung it better and higher than he used to do on the Invisible Touch Tour let alone the WCD Tour when it soon had to dropped. You're taking away my last chance don't take it away can't you feel my heart . Man, that was perfect and the whole song was delivered at its dramatic best, with Phil's face so creepy on the round screens on both sides of the st age everytime he did the laughter.
From the red lights to the blue girls
, as Phil said, it was yet another foray into the 70s with the song that was the biggest surprise of the show once the setlist became official last month.
Having Ripples in these huge kind of shows was a gamble and Genesis definitely won, at least in Bern, although maybe they should have been even braver and avoid cutting the solo to half its original length. For Mean Auntie's delight, Phil sang this song better than ever and the falsetto ( to see where they have gone) was very good too.
Like I said before, he managed to sing all the words right. Before the song started, he even looked at Mike, crossed his fingers and smiled!
Maybe the equation old & unexpected = more goosebumps played quite a part but yes, I think Ripples was probably the no.1 highlight of the concert.
Speaking of equations the old and famous one that goes Genesis open air show = rain was starting to be totally respected. The last 45-60 minutes of the show got us soaking wet, but you can be sure none of us really cared about it.
At this point, in order to structure a stadium concert fairly, a lighter moment was needed and Throwing It All Away is indeed one of the best numbers from this point of view. It's hard to say that who hates this song is right when you see Phil hold the audience of a whole stadium in the palm of his hand and make it go dee-da-daaaay.
If you ever think you might tend to get a little sick of hearing the same old Domino principle introduction, which is actually being done again this year, let me tell you that you're just going to love it and you won't stop laughing and shouting when it's your turn, of course! This moment brought me back to my first Genesis show, 20 years ago, and it's a completely different feeling when you're actually part of the audience that participates to it.
Domino was yet another strong moment yes, you can lose count of the highlights in this setlist! and I especially loved the first two verses of The Last Domino when, instead of being lifted up like in '92, Phil sings off stage and on the big screen you can see his face, still surrounded by the coloured lights. Once again, he sings great and in the last couple of minutes Chester's drums are terrific.
Speaking of drums, the drum duet that followed started in a very unusual way, with Phil and Chester playing on two
chairs between their kits for a couple minutes before launching into their classic duet, and it was so great to hear Los Endos again after that - I always miss it everytime I listen to a WCD Tour show.
This was the last of the countless instrumental pieces the guys are playing this year but, quite surprisingly, it wasn't the last song before the encores, like it always used to be when it was played.
Frankly I felt a bit puzzled for more than one reason when I heard Tonight Tonight Tonight kicking off immediately after the end of Los Endos. I can understand the band's will to end the main set with some hits, and since other songs were switched from their usual position I might as well say expect the unexpected again, but still that drum machine after what Phil once called the "orgasmic moment" sounded strange. Maybe I'm being too strict about this, anyway, after all they're just songs and it shouldn't matter much in which order they were played, as long as Los Endos is performed!
Tonight Tonight Tonight / Invisible Touch are done much in the same way we can hear on the Shorts live album (including the though she will f*ck up your life bit) and the latter got the crowd jumping up and down during the pseudo-solo in the middle. Phil came close to the front row under the rain for the singalong bit of Invisible Touch and still had much energy. Towards the end of the song he went near Daryl and for a while they did the ankle dance they used to do in That's All years ago. At the very end, fireworks came out from the big tall towers behind the stage for a spectacular end of the proper show.
The band left the stage and after the usual couple of minutes the encores started, with the drum machine of I Can't Dance and the guys getting right back. Phil did the walk, checked everything was in place everytime the song required that, picked up Mike and Daryl to walk with him to every corner of the stage, and all that stuff that makes this one a great live song to see. He didn't do the dance at the end of the song, but we can imagine even he has to save some energy, with all he gives in two hours and a half.
Before the last song there was a double standing ovation (well, we were already standing, but!) for Daryl and Chester. A Genesis show couldn't be the same without them (with all the due respect to Nir Z and Anto Drennan) and who thinks this line-up sounds better just because Phil is back makes a big mistake.
Phil announced that before they left they wished to play a very old song that has a special meaning to them. Tony began Carpet Crawlers and the simple beauty of this tune brought more than one tear in the audience, especially among those who were seeing Genesis for the only, or the last, time on this tour. The vocals on this song were so good, both the lead and the harmonies. The last chorus saw the music practically stopping - a bit like in the '99 version - and there was almost nothing but the voices. How beautiful. The version was generally more powerful in its crescendo, thanks also to Chester, whose drums gave this song a huger feel.
The guys took bows together and then Chester and Daryl stepped aside to give their own applause to Tony, Mike and Phil as they took one last bow. I like to think this idea came from one of these two gentlemen, maybe during the rehearsals. It was a very nice way to end a night I'll never forget.
Genesis played better than ever, the audience was great and the sound was always perfect - apparently not only from where we were standing but also from the balconies except for Daryl's lead guitar that couldn't be heard on Behind The Lines and Duke's Travels.
And once again, what a setlist! The spirit of this tour reminds me of the 1982 Encore Tour, when the band had no actual new albums to promote and they could throw quite a few curve balls in the show.
All in all I can say, according to the Bern concert, that not only the magic is back but it's as strong as ever.