Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Genesis, HP Pavilion, San Jose (10/9/07)

It wasn't the Peter Gabriel-fronted lineup, but Genesis still played a mostly excellent set in San Jose on Tuesday night. Rode down there with Julie and a couple of her friends, ate a typically overpriced meal inside the venue, and didn't have to wait long past the 8pm start time for the band to take the stage.

Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford were joined by the touring members who had been with them since the late '70s - drummer Chester Thompson and guitarist Daryl Stuermer. Phil and Chester were drumming together on separate kits for a good chunk of the night, and that's exactly how the show started. They opened with an instrumental intro based on "Behind The Lines" and "Duke's End" from the 1980 album Duke, and with the way the lights were cast, I actually couldn't tell who was on which drum kit. Both Chester and Phil are bald, and the lights made it difficult to tell which guy was black and which guy was white. But when Phil stepped down from the stage right kit to take the microphone on "Turn It On Again," suddenly Chester's darker complexion stood out.

"Turn It On Again" sounded a bit sluggish (due in no part to Phil's pudgy belly, mind you), and like most of the vocal tunes in the set, was taken down to a lower key to make it easier for Phil to sing. I got used to it after a while, but it was a shame Phil wasn't hitting as many high notes as he used to.

After a couple more big pop hits, they dug into the first of several longer prog highlights from the '70s. "In The Cage" started out sounding kind of sparse and the audience seemed not all that enthused, but by the time the band had kicked up the intensity halfway through the song, and then segued into an instrumental slice of the odd-metered "The Cinema Show" and concluded the extra long medley with "Afterglow," we were hearing some of the loudest applause of the evening so far.

Next thing I witnessed was a first for me. Phil sat on a stool to sing the suitable-for-the-dentist-chair ballad "Hold On My Heart," a song that was probably best left for one of his solo records. Apparently a good chunk of the audience agreed, because this was the first time I had ever witnessed a mass exodus to the bathrooms during a performance of a top 40 hit at any concert I've ever attended. "Follow You, Follow Me" received a much warmer reception. It's a slight little ditty, but there's something attractive about it. Perhaps the fact that it was born organically, out of a jam, is what has given it some appeal over the years. Not only that, it was the only song played where Phil was drumming and singing at the same time, which is always a fascinating thing to watch, especially for those of us who can barely coordinate one foot with two hands behind a kit, never mind the other foot and vocals too.

Other highlights:
The "Firth of Fifth" instrumental featured Daryl on lead guitar, segueing into a crowd-pleasing rendition of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)." This tune was about as close as the Peter Gabriel era got to a pop hit, and it works very well in an arena setting with Phil making it all his own.

"Ripples" was a nice surprise thrown into the set, though Darryl's guitar could have been turned up.

The drum duet between Chester and Phil started out with the two of them banging away on what appeared to be a tall stool. They gradually moved away from the stool and onto their respective kits without missing a beat. Here's a youtube clip from the show, just over a minute long, capturing the transition:

The duet crashed head on into "Los Endos," yet another '70s instrumental. This one pretty much contained all the most memorable musical themes from the A Trick Of The Tail album, and it came alive on stage in a way that the record never did.

They really piled on some prime old material, and it was all received quite well and played even better. They could have dropped some of the '80s hits and I'm sure few would have minded. Though I must admit, even though "Throwing It All Away" is one of their less interesting pop songs (yet another that would have been better kept for a Phil solo album), the video screen behind the band during this song was a kick to watch. Cameras would zoom in on various people in the audience, and it was a matter of a second or two before the person would notice his or her image up on the screen. Every person spotlighted seemed to delight in the attention. I kept waiting for someone to cover their face in embarrassment, but no luck - everyone was a star and enjoyed it.

Set list:

Duke's Intro (Behind The Lines)
Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land Of Confusion
In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke's Travels / Afterglow
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea
Follow You, Follow Me
Firth Of Fifth / I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
Throwing It All Away
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
Invisible Touch

I Can't Dance
The Carpet Crawlers


Doug M. said...

It's funny, the encore looks really good. I've warmed up considerably to the Collins era, and believe it or not, "I Can't Dance" is one of my faves. Can't lose with Carpet Crawlers either.

Los Endos.

Isorski said...

Great review. The set list is way better than I had thought it would be. They for sure pulled out some nuggets. Ripples? Wow! Bummer they didn't bring this show to the Northwest - I would have gone for sure.