On October 9, Mike
and I saw Genesis at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. Though Mike and I had purchased the tickets way back in March, changes in availability meant a last-minute scramble to find people to go. But all was worked out, and we converged from our various parts of the Bay Area at the Millbrae BART station, where Gerard obligingly scooped us up and transported all to the arena.
Genesis was my favorite band in late high school; The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
was my favorite album for years, and "The Cinema Show" from Selling England By the Pound
was my favorite song, though I didn't hear either album until years after Peter Gabriel had left the band. I saw the band with Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh 20 years ago, and that was the same configuration that performed on this tour.
The group, again accompanied by Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar, played songs from much of the band's history, including many of my favorites. Gabriel-era songs included the aforementioned "Cinema Show" (instrumental part only, but that's the bit I like - although it sounded like Tony played it an octave lower than usual?), part of "Firth of Fifth", and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)". "Afterglow", the usual oldies-medley closing, was beautiful as usual, and I really enjoyed the new medley from Duke that opened the show, "Los Endos" from Trick of the Tail
, and the several songs from their self-titled album. I was disappointed that nothing from Abacab
was performed, but you can't have everything.
The newest numbers, from "I Can't Dance" and "Invisible Touch", I mostly dismissed; Mike humorously noted at the time, and in his own review
, that "Hold On My Heart" was the first time he'd seen a mass exodus to the restrooms during the performance of a top 40 song. :-) But overall, there were very few songs I didn't like.
Genesis had their usual impressive light show, even culminating in brief fireworks, but the arena also had three video screens: a tall oval picture-frame style screen on either side of the stage, and a large screen that formed the back of the stage itself. That large screen was mostly used for showing animation rather than live video, which I often found more distracting than entertaining, especially when it showed a stylized running man during the entirety of "In The Cage". But the screen was sometimes used to good effect, such as: during Stuermer's guitar solo on "Firth of Fifth"; showing shots of the audience, baseball-game style, during the otherwise forgettable "Throwing it All Away"; and centering on Phil's face surrounded by a tunneling video effect during "Domino".
Phil was an incredible ham, as usual, having the audience pose for photos he took from the stage, spotlighting the crowd for a "Domino" effect before that song, etc. I don't mind Phil so much as some other fans do, though. I actual prefer his voice to Gabriel's, and some of my favorite Genesis music was from the two albums immediately following Phil taking over as lead singer. I know much later material and many of Phil's solo songs were schmaltzy, but I still think he's a fine performer, and not just for his incredible percussion skills (the drum duet with Chester Thompson always brings down the house).
But for me, the wonder of Genesis is not in Phil or Peter, but in the genius of keyboardist-composer Tony Banks. That man is so amazingly creative and talented. It was a treat to see him play live again, after enjoying his music for over 20 years.