EmptyMadison Square Garden, New York
Tuesday, Sept. 25
No, it wasn't the reunion including Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett that fans have long dreamed about, but the show featuring the most commercially successful incarnation of Genesis doesn't disappoint.
The set list for the aptly named Turn It On Again tour, the band's first in more than 15 years, is a canny mixture of prog-rock favorites and hits from its hugely commercial pop-rock era. While neither segment of their constituency is likely to be completely satisfied, the program seems a reasonable compromise that shows off the band's many strengths.
Certainly, the core trio of singer-drummer Phil Collins, guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks (augmented by longtime compatriots Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on bass and guitar) offers the fans plenty of value for the extravagant ticket prices they shelled out. Delivering a strenuous set that lasts more than 2 1/2 hours, the band doesn't seem to have lost a step.
Collins remains an ever-engaging and theatrical frontman, clowning with the crowd and still possessing a powerful singing voice and amazing drum chops that are frequently displayed. Rutherford remains an amazingly precise guitarist, while Banks' assured keyboards provide the complicated textures that keep the long instrumental passages from becoming tedious. The music was well complemented by an extravagant video and light show that clearly wasn't done on the cheap.
Many of the bigger hits, as well as everything from Collins' prodigious solo career, were ignored (no "Abacab," thankfully). But the old fans were treated to early numbers, some dating as far back as "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" days, including "In the Cage," "Cinema Show," "Afterglow," "Firth of Fifth" and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)." And they were no doubt particularly pleased by the closing number, "Carpet Crawlers."
But the pop fans weren't left out, with the band delivering strong renditions of "Throwing It All Way," "No Son of Mine" "Turn It On Again," "Invisible Touch" and "Land of Confusion," among others. While "Hold on My Heart" showed the band at its treacly worst, such numbers as the supremely creepy "Mama" (with close-ups of Collins' face illuminated to supremely spooky effect) and a nicely slowed-down version of "Follow You Follow Me" more than compensated.
Genesis hits the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 12 and 13.