M's Review Of Genesis At New York Madison Square Garden, 09/25/2007

M reviews last night's Genesis show at MSG:

Saw the show...and I got almost exactly what I expected.

Here were the pleasant surprises:

1) Phil's banter the crowd was at times amusing
2) Tony's keyboards sounds were significantly better than expected
3) the overall sound was better than expected
4) the visuals were cool
5) DS died of massive heart failure while ruining Firth of Fifth (ok that didn't actually happen)

Show opened strong. I liked the Behind the Lines instrumental. Turn it On Again was good but the tuning a whole step down hurts the song...although live it still packed more of a punch than the VH1 special or YouTube clips (but that isn't really saying a lot). I still think the Three Sides Live version kicks ass...original key, slightly up-tempo.

No Son of Mine and Land of Confusion were also good. I knew what would be my favorite part of the show was coming next. In the Cage/Cinema Show/Dukes' Travels was great...the live setting again helping the obvious key change. I've never understood why people like Afterglow so much but it was performed well.

Hold on My Heart was fascinating for me. Of course I don't like the song but what struck me was the need to extend it and jam on it a bit. I can't even get the original length of my favorite tunes but I can get an extended version of a shitty one. In a word...awesome.

Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea. First part good...Second Home was great. Definitely a high point of the show and basically what I had hoped for when the tour was announced. A great performance of one of the great tunes from the three man era.

Follow You, Follow Me. I can't complain. Not one of my favorites but obviously knew it was coming when the tour was announced.

Firth Of Fifth/I Know What I Like. I walked out during this as the anger overcame me. Tony's keyboard solo sounded horrible. Phil's drumming (while good for most of the show...Chester was the doing most of the drumming during the show...even when Phil was behind a kit) was totally lame here.

Even from the concession stand DS's performance was horrendous. I kept looking on the menu for thorazine to kill the pain but they didn't have it.

Read my previous rants about this. In short never ever perform this song again....(unless its the original five and the song is performed in its entirety). And kill Darryl Stuermer. This is not a joke. Kill DS. REDRUM!! REDRUM!!

And yes Phil you can still play the tambourine with your bald head and your feet. But so can a trained monkey. And to see images of Steve Hackett on screen while listening to the band rape his music was really more than I could take. I'm still seething.

Mama - yes it was good...very good I guess...but couldn't save the pattern of the show which was good song, shitty song, good song chopped to shit and ruined by DS, shitty song

Ripples - excellent. Not one of my favorites but at least they did it complete and DS restrained we're up to two good songs in a row

Throwing it All Away. Ok I guess. Yes a hit but not one that really was essential to play (like Invisible Touch) Not one of my favorites but the camera thru the audience was entertaining. It made the joy of the rest of the crowd somewhat infectious...although a "Kill Darryl" chant would have worked better for me

Domino - the anger started to swell again. I have no understanding for this. Its a long song off an album that was thoroughly represented that evening. And Phil's head with the Doctor Who swirl on the screen was tough to take...but maybe that's just me. Nothing about the performance of this song quieted the screaming "why the fuck are they playing this" voice in my head. But let's cut Cinema Show a little bit shorter to fit this in.

Drum Duet - yes it was very good...but for me couldn't make up for the good/bad back and forth of the night.

Los Endos - also was good but not enough to win me over

Tonight Tonight Tonight - we're going to make it right tonight...too late for that. I think was performed in the Key of Zzzzz

Invisible Touch - great crowd pleaser (for most) brother and I made it to the screen during the camera shots. I think my enthusiasm was the catalyst for the crowd here

I Can't Dance - wow they did the funny walk thing. That was awesome. And it was really fucking awesome when some drunk NYC dudes starting doing it in the aisle daisy chain style. Wow I love being surrounded by cool drunk dudes. Especially when its clear they get the actually lyric of song. I had to keep telling myself, "you have a beautiful wife and child at have a beautiful wife and child at home". Its the only reason I didn't go out in a blaze of glory last night.

Carpet Crawlers - ok. The only reason I didn't leave after the In the Cage bit.

So yes the show was better than 92...but so is a Solo Ray Wilson acoustic performance. Yes the sound was better than expected....but shouldn't it be good considering the technology available and the ridiculous $$$ being made on this tour. I'm tired of giving performances credit for what should be a given. And Phil sang great (if you can forgive that he's not 30 anymore...which I can). The visuals for the show were good too. But the set list is fucked beyond ridiculous. Two hour show, 20 minutes of enjoyment.

Yes part of that is my responsibility because I'd be a fool to think they're going to skip their hits. But I Can't Dance was never really a hit. Domino was never a hit. Firth of Firth was never a hit and this performance was a complete fucking disgrace as was I Know What I Like, and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight was also dull as hell. And extending Hold on My Heart...WTF? How long do I need to pee?

Rejuvenated Genesis Excite Hartford

Genesis at the Hartford Civic Center, 09/16/07. All photos courtesy of my girl, taken with her Sony T100 compact camera.

Considering how my last post was meant to lower expectations, this is fantastic news. I am very happy to report that whatever lack of energy or enthusiasm Genesis seemed to have in YouTube videos posted in Europe, the band has arrived in North America with their best performances in 20 years.

That's right. They are better than they were in 1992-1993. They were absolutely fantastic last night. Oh, and a mind-blowing drum duet didn't hurt their show, either. Last night could have been a candidate for the DVD. It was that good.

Let's get the weak points of their performance out of the way:

  • Daryl Sturmer still plucks annoying, extra notes into the Firth of Fifth solo.
  • They still perform Hold On My Heart.
  • Medleys still have the effect of pleasing the long-time fans in the audience and annoying them at the same time.
  • Tony's keyboard setup is very good and compact overall. However, while the low-range sounds (organ, mellotron, bass synth) are awesome and inspiring, his high-range sounds (mini moog, In The Cage solo) sound cheap and underwhelming.

And really, everything else was great. Even if you hate Throwing It All Away, it was one of the most amusing and fun parts of the evening, with candid videos of the audience members on the big video wall. Follow You Follow Me was appropriately sentimental, with the video wall showing animations of some of their album covers (Nursery Cryme, Selling England By The Pound, Trick of the Tail, Duke, and We Can't Dance) along with archival photos of the band dating back to 1970.

Their performance of Mama was a highlight, as it was their best performance of the song in 20 years.

It was the band's technical superiority, musicianship, humor, and interaction with the audience that made this a truly great show. Genesis are back!

Phil had to take it easy on his voice in Europe. Here, he is belting out the songs, restraining himself only occasionally, and certainly not on the very old songs.

The set list remains the same from the European leg:

Behind The Lines / Duke’s End (medley)
Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land Of Confusion
In The Cage (complete) / The Cinema Show (truncated) / Duke’s Travels (truncated)
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea
Follow You Follow Me
Firth Of Fifth (truncated) / I Know What I Like (complete)
Throwing It All Away
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight Tonight Tonight (truncated) / Invisible Touch (complete)
I Can’t Dance
The Carpet Crawlers

That's about a two-and-a-half hour show. They took the stage at 20:30 (the scheduled start was 20:00).

Surely I would have loved to hear more material from the great 1976-1982 box set that was released this spring. I would have wanted to hear a song from Abacab, a complete song from Duke, and another song from And Then There Were Three. But essentially, they took the 1992 set list, dropped the long 70s medley in favor of three small medleys (two of which included complete songs, In The Cage and I Know What I Like), kept the biggest hits, cut the number of songs from WCD from six to three, kept Domino and Home By The Sea, and then squeezed-in Ripples, Follow You Follow Me, Afteglow, Los Endos, and Carpet Crawlers.

I should be excited to see so many old songs squeezed in. But I feel let-down because these are old songs they have done before (if you are old enough to remember). I'm not really into Afterglow. I love Ripples, and it was their best song of the night, along with Mama. Follow You Follow Me is good, but what would really make me excited is any (and I mean ANY) other song from And Then There Were Three.

And there were two surprises (surprises if you don't read all the Genesis blogs, that is). First, Daryl Sturmer used a beautiful Les Paul for Ripples and Carpet Crawlers. The warmer sound of the Les Paul was very welcome, and according to Archetype, it was the first time he had ever seen Daryl play a Les Paul in a Genesis show. When I closed my eyes during the Ripples solo, I pictured this guy. Daryl did a fine job when he used the Les Paul and remained faithful to the way Steve would have played it. Otherwise, Daryl did not respect Mr. Hackett's music.

The second surprise was the drum duet. Everyone knew it was going to be good. I simply had no idea that it would be faster, more athletic, and more impressive than the 1992/1993 version. Phil and Chester are simply incredible. Their speed, technique, stunts, and the resulting reverb through the arena were all breathtaking. It was the Cirque du Soleil of drum duets. You just have to see it for yourself.

Maybe Genesis were rusty in Europe. Maybe Phil did complain about being on-tour. Perhaps he is still bitching. But their hard work to get back out there is paying off. What I saw in Hartford on Sunday night was a band that is getting stronger, and could be preparing for a bigger tour in the near future. They still have tricks up their sleeves and seem to know that the fans are going to expect more old songs the next time around.

Well done, lads, well done. That shit I said earlier? I take it all back.

The purpose of this tour is to get the rust out and get back into form. Apparently they had gotten back together last year in case Peter Gabriel was able to join them and work on a new live production of The Lamb. Of course that fell through, but they decided to tour anyway. We can only hope that this tour is in preparation of Peter Gabriel's eventual return. Archetype dreams of a reunion of the classic 5-member lineup for a live performance of The Lamb in Central Park next summer or in 2009.

So long as they are all alive, the demand for a reunion will remain.

It would be incredible, but I have to keep my expectations in-check. Peter seems to be fine with the idea, provided it does not involve recording a new album or taking too much time away from his future solo albums (he has enough material for two new albums, and is working hard on the one he hoped to release two years ago).

The hurdle in getting the classic Genesis lineup back together is the 30 year-old spat between keyboardist Tony Banks and former lead guitarist Steve Hackett. That's my opinion, but consider how Tony talks about Steve. Here is how I imagine it:

Hi, I'm Tony Banks. I founded Genesis in 1967 along with Mike Rutherford and Peter Gabriel back in high school. Members have come and gone, but one thing remains constant - this band belongs to me and Mike. Let's make that clear.

"It's my band. Mine. I didn't have to go to Phil. He had to come back to me!!!11"

Now regarding that classic lineup. The way I see it, Peter had a good reason to go. He got married young. Had a baby soon afterword. He had new pressures of family life and removed himself from the band for his own good. Although he didn't tell us he was leaving until we were in the middle of our 1975 tour, I forgive him. Besides, I could see it coming. I can ready my friends fairly well. I knew Peter was distracted and was going to go. It was a sad time. But Mike and I decided to keep Genesis going. Phil and Steve could come along or not.

Now as for Steve, his departure was different. He wanted to contribute more acoustic songs to our two post-Peter albums. But I felt that we had some singles that deserved to be committed to wax. It's what the fans wanted. It's what the majority of us wanted. I like to think that Genesis is a democracy, and Steve would just have to wait to get more of his songs on our albums. Still, he got songwriting credits for a third of the songs on his last album with us. And looking back, Blood on the Rooftops is one of the best Genesis songs ever. Steve and Phil wrote it themselves.

But Steve couldn't wait. He was writing more songs and had more material. So he stopped-by the studio one day in 1977 and told me and Mike that he was leaving the band. And that was that. He was gone. And Mike and I were left with a crisis. Then Phil walked in and he was clueless about what had just happened. Mike and I once again had to decide the future of Genesis.

Now being the quiet gentleman that I am, I didn't hold a grudge. Oh, I did make sure that Steve didn't appear clarly on the cover of our 1977 live album. The photo I selected had him in a dark shadow most fans would not notice. But he and I are still friends. I still see Steve in concert. I always go backstage to shake his hand and say hi. He's not an egotistical front man. I'm certainly not. It is interesting how he tries his best to sing songs with some good results. I guess he has found his happy place. So I'd be, um, surprised if he came back and performed with us.

From my perspective, once you quit, you quit and can't come back. You have to preserve your pride and not ever get caught with your tail between your legs or something. That's how we upper classes do it. Never talk out your problems, or talk to people we don't like. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't be talking. Cheers.

Now that is something Tony would never say out loud. He keeps it all inside. The silent treatment means you are out. I used to admire that about Tony. He is still my favorite member of Genesis. He lacks the technique and strength of Keith Emerson, but is arguably a more successful composer and songwriter. His solos have evolved over the last 35 years, and I like them all. Tony's great. And I hope someone gives him another chance to do a television theme song or movie soundtrack.

But from the clues he gives in his interviews, I think it is Tony who is blocking the big reunion. Let's see some real Tony quotes regarding a possible 5-member reunion:

There has never really been anything organized...It tends to come from other people more than us, really. I never rule out any kind of reunion thing, it could always happen. We’re all good friends, and we get-on ok. It would be fun to revisit some of these early things perhaps, but there has really never been a plan...I’m not itching to do it, particularly, but I’m not dismissing it either.

That was Tony in 2004. And what did Steve say last year?

Unfortunately I'm not in a position to comment on things...and of course the ideal time would be [now] if there was a band reformation but I don't think anyone is any the wiser. The band isn't any the wiser than the fans are and so with regards to that we have all given our pitch and let's just say that most of us are hoping it is going to come off. I would love to be able to say 'Yes, I'll be there on Thursday!' It is the question on everyone's lips, including mine. If it doesn't happen, I won't be to blame.

Hmmmm. We have someone who would like it to happen, and someone who isn't too crazy about the idea. I think the signs pointing to Tony as being the sticky wicket.

""Well, we managed to sack the lot of you!" - Tony to all former members of Genesis in 1999. At the time, that included Phil.

Now I have to be respectful of the artists I admire. Chances are, a classic reunion will not happen. But surely the fans are dreaming of this the same way I dreamt of the Red Sox winning the world series in my lifetime. And this has been written about by authors far more passionate and informed than I am.

So I will close this post with the obvious - if you are a fan of Genesis and admire their work, you have to get yourself to one of their remaining North American shows. They are well worth your time and money.

Fog on the Tyne

I was not able to post this yesterday due to an afternoon and evening spent out with the boys on the Lower East Side. We all met-up at Nevada Smith's to watch the 5pm Fox Sports replay of Newcastle's home victory against Wigan (we all stayed away from the Internets so we did not know the result). Then I suggested we go around the corner to famed Red Sox bar, Professor Thom's, to watch the Orioles-Red Sox game. Obviously, our sports day went from great to supergreat. Amazing. And we went to celebrate at Libation, where it seems to be stuck in 1999, even though it opened in 2005. And that's a good thing.

So Saturday was great. Besides the Clay Buchholz no-hitter, Newcastle finally won at home. That's the reason I was in the Lower East Side to begin with. So I have to finally post a video I swore I would not post until Newcastle scored a home goal and won a home game this season. They had not scored a goal at home since February, in a game against Liverpool last season (which was also a game they won). The Magpies remain undefeated this season with 2 wins and 2 draws.

Now this fucked-up folk band (and they are really fucked-up) is Lindisfarne, with their #1 hit from 1971, "Fog on the Tyne." The Genesis fans among my readers will recognize the song without ever hearing it before. Today it lives-on as a Newcastle chant, and I heard it briefly sung at Nevada Smith's yesterday.

We can have a 'wee wee'? You mean sip? Gotta love the cowbell.

When I think cowbell, I think of the SNL clip with Will Farrell and Christopher Walken, which makes me think of the Red Sox because that clip was among the many rallies of Red Sox fans and writer Bill Simmons three years ago...which somehow brings me back to two things - the Red Sox and Genesis. Professor Thom's bar shows every Red Sox game, AND they have most Genesis albums on their jukebox. That makes it a winner. They have a regular yacht bell at the bar though, not a cowbell. Maybe we can change that.

The nachos at Professor Thom's. Think there's enough?

2007 Genesis Tour: Bad News For Europe; Worse News For The USA

The more I post, the more you can learn about my interests. Not only am I a fan of the golden age of science fiction (1953-1980), space opera (Star Wars, Farscape), and auto racing, but I am also a fan of progressive and art-rock. I don't consider myself to be hardcore. I don't drool at the thought of seeing a Magma or Dream Theater show. I only went to NEARfest once, and it scared me a little. But I am enough of a fan to enjoy most of the works of Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Rush, some of the Yes family tree, some of the Roxy Music family tree (Brian Eno, especially), and most of all, Genesis.

Now I am not here to provide a history of the band, but let me wind-up to deliver this week's curious and depressing news.

Genesis is a band that has had more than one artistic peak, which makes them an exciting and interesting band to follow. They released six studio albums with Peter Gabriel at lead vocal. The last three of those albums represent the peak of Genesis as a five-member unit (Foxtrot (1972), Selling England By The Pound (1973), The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)). As many pro-rock fans know, Gabriel left the band following the Lamb tour, and after hundreds of auditions, Tony banks and Mike Rutherford agreed that their drummer, Phil Collins, would take-over singing duty. Genesis returned from the studio in 1976 as a four piece, and released two more great albums, Trick of the Tail (1976) and Wind and Wuthering (1977). Following the departure of the great Steve Hackett on lead guitar, Genesis transformed again.

Genesis remained a storytelling band. They had gravitated towards songs about medieval times, Greek drama, English country life, Scottish history, fantasy tales, and apocalyptic and/or futuristic tales. With Wind and Wuthering, they still brought-up cricket, afternoon tea, and 16th century Scotland. But they changed their tone a bit with their next phase. With their 1978 album And Then There Were Three, there were fantasy stories, a song about the gold rush, a complex emo-rock song in 5/4 time (Snowbound), and...a radio-friendly ballad! Follow You Follow Me was the first Genesis song to get the attention of large numbers of female listeners and eventually, female fans. Nothing wrong with that at all. But the narrative of the band from 1978 to this day reflects the band's artistic, personal, and political structure. Simply put, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, the two former public schoolboys and residents of little castles in Surrey, manage the band. Phil brings-in the most commercial, radio friendly material (which seems to have had an influence over Mike and his contributions since 1983 or so). Tony has consistently provided the best musical compositions. And the band has made sure that at least one long song is produced for each album (the final ones being Driving the Last Spike and Fading Lights in 1991). And perhaps most interesting, the band seems to get together and/or produce new material whenever Phil is going through a rocky phase in his marriage.

Really. That's how it works.

They recorded Wind and Wuthering in Vancouver in 1976. At that time, Phil's first marriage was slowly falling apart after just one year. Phil and Andrea Bertorelli divorced in 1980, after two more acclaimed Genesis albums were released. His angst over the divorce manifested itself in his finest solo albums, Face Value, and Hello I Must Be Going. That's a lot of good material over one failed marriage. In 1984, he married Jill Tavelman. During his second marriage, he released three more best-selling solo albums, picked-up some Grammies, and released two more albums with Genesis, not to mention two enormous singles (Against All Odds, Easy Lover) that helped canonize him into 1980s pop culture. 1987 saw Genesis and Peter Gabriel competing against each other for MTV VMAs and Grammies as the platinum counts mounted higher. The difference is, So was as commercial as Peter Gabriel would ever get. The last Genesis album with Collins on vocals, We Can't Dance (1991), sold a whopping 10 million copies, about half of them in the USA.

Phil left Genesis in 1996 as his marriage to Jill fell apart. Phil had a solo album up his sleeve with Dance Into the Light, which was a financial and artistic failure compared to his previous five solo albums. He found himself being commissioned by Disney to compose songs for both the Tarzan movie and Broadway show. He picked-up an Oscar for Best Original Song for that effort, and met and married the young Orianne Cevey along the way, followed by a move with his then 27 year-old bride to the English-speaking side of Geneva, where she borne him two children.

Phil is not usually as cold or as distant (or as WASPy) as his two public school-educated bandmates, Mike and Tony. But apparently Phil has shown a pattern of transmitting bad news via e-mail or fax. Some of his divorce-related communications were sent to Jill via fax in 1996. Now that's not as bad as Rudy Giuliani breaking the bad news to Donna Hanover in a public press conference, but still, that's cold. She fortunately walked away with a $30M settlement. We later learned that Phil's company ceased paying royalties to two members of Earth Wind and Fire, under the cold explanation that the two were overpaid, and so royalty payments for the Serious Hits Live CD would end. It seemed like an unprofessional way to end a 10-year relationship.

Last year, Phil and Orianne Cevey separated. Many fans speculated that it would lead to a Genesis reunion. And indeed it did.

As for live performances - Genesis world tours since 1986 have all followed a similar template. Whereas their shows of the late 1970s features a mix of lengthy older songs and shorter ballads, the tours over the last 21 years have cut the longer songs into medleys (particularly The Lamb, and the solo of Firth of Fifth). Two long songs from the 1980s have survived: Home By The Sea (parts 1 & 2) and Domino (parts 1 & 2). And the rest of the setlist has been filled with some classic hits (Turn it On Again), recent # 1 hits (No Son of Mine), and recent ballads (In Too Deep (released as a single in 1987), Hold on My Heart (released as a single in 1992). The encore has essentially been the same, which includes a truncated Tonight Tonight Tonight, and their biggest hit Invisible Touch.

In November 2006, Genesis announced that they were going to get back together, release a box set of their best material with Phil on vocals (1976-1982), and play songs they haven't played in years on the tour. They even hinted that they would drop medleys in favor of complete song performances. I didn't take it too seriously, and neither did most fans. When the first setlist was leaked, it was a real downer. With the exception of the Duke material woven into the medleys, it looked a lot like their 1992/93 setlist:

Behind The Lines / Duke’s End (medley)
Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land Of Confusion
In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke’s Travels (medley)
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea
Follow You Follow Me
Firth Of Fifth / I Know What I Like (medley)
Throwing It All Away
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight Tonight Tonight (intro)
Invisible Touch
I Can’t Dance
The Carpet Crawlers

Ripples, In The Cage, Afterglow, Los Endos, Follow You Follow Me, and Carpet Crawlers stand-out as pre-1980 songs to be performed in their entirety. Not bad. But three of those above songs were performed in their early 80s tours. So it seems like an easy way to add songs back to the setlist rather than reach deeper into the catalog to play something that would truly be 'new' for even old fans. Granted, Ripples and Carpet Crawlers fit that definition. But being selfish, I would have wanted more. A complete song from Duke or Abacab would make me feel a lot better about this tour.

Also, Genesis fans would question why Throwing It All Away is in the set list while the songs from Duke are edited into medleys. Also infuriating would be the Firth of Fifth medley, in which guitarist Daryl Sturmer obnoxiously plucks extra notes into the solo, or the bit of The Cinema Show where Tony Banks' keyboard solo is truncated (at least in the European clips I have seen).

Furthermore, fans report that Tony's keyboard setup sounds low-budget and amateurish. Genesis should be supporting their box set and play more songs from the late 1970s. But instead, they continue to play 1980s top-40 hits and reduce Gabriel-era works into lazy and uninspired medleys. For the fans, it does not represent a compromise. It gives them no compelling reason to go to the show at all.

These blokes are hardly working and laughing once again to the bank.

Archetype and I are still seeing the September 16th show in Hartford, despite my argument above. He writes:

The British are coming… The British are coming…

The band Genesis is returning to the North American shores in the coming weeks and with it shocking news…..(warning: sarcasm in use) Rumors are abound of them changing the set list to accommodate the American audience.

Accommodate, indeed! What it really means is "dumbing" the set down to just the ultra-pop hits. Songs like Ripples will serve as the casualties. I am not sure who comprises the demographic that would rather hear In Too Deep over Ripples, but I venture to guess they are not really Genesis fans. Maybe in 1986 In Too Deep thrilled the pop-thirsty Yanks, but for the likes of myself and other hard core fans we saw it as the necessary evil to ring in another chance to see our boys tour.

Lets put aside the overwhelming desire for myself to see the entire quintessential group reunite, that being the current threesome (Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford) joined on stage with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett (lead guitar). No offense to Daryl Steurmer and Chester Thompson but most have us have seen that version more so than the other line up. Perhaps that will come to fruition someday. Though I am reaching an age where it appears that the troubadours of my youth are really just an aged bunch that lacks the hunger of their preceding selves. Unparalleled success, I suppose, can bring that. Even Tony Banks in a recent interview backstage in Europe said as much, that not supporting an album has made the tour more relaxed and since they don't feel they need to win fans the pressure to perform is lessened.

I think something has been lost here. Perhaps I have loftier standards for a band that pushed the music world and especially the live gig presentation. While I am sure the visuals will dazzle, they have slipped a bit in the delivery of the music itself, whether it's the vocal range that slips with age or the virtuosity in the play or even the selection of songs themselves, this is not the Genesis I would necessarily have paid to see.

Truth is, though, I am paying to see them, the 16th of September in Hartford, Connecticut. Not a choice venue for me but they were purchased with the hope of them being true to their words in the press conference, of renewing the idea of Genesis being a band beyond the hits, so to speak. Well the vast majority are just that, the hits. And on the surface that is OK, but news that as they arrive on the North American leg of the tour that more hits will supplant less popular tracks breaks my heart. I have heard that stuff. Ripples is a beautiful song. It is a song that perhaps the majority of the American audiences may not remember in lieu of the popularity of the more recent ones, but it is a chance to re-introduce NA to a truly beautiful song. That is what a live show is about!

Supporting an album might just be what the doctor ordered, only instead of one that has yet to be recorded, how about one that was recorded a long time ago that has been forgotten on American airwaves? Say, A Trick of the Tail, Wind and Wuthering, and …And Then There Were Three , all of which were re-issued with bonus material just before the tour began? But not the tracks that keep showing up as medley pieces, but rather the very beautifully penned pieces that are not instrumentals such as Squonk, Entangled, Blood On The Rooftops, Say Its Alright Joe, Ballad Of Big, and Cul De Sac. Would the audience who is in the know not appreciate this? Would the audience that is not in the know not find these pieces beautiful?

More so than the unknown is the known, and I am referring to the legitimacy of certain songs in the live realm. I am sure Hold On My Heart and In Too Deep are fabulous singles in the catalogue, but they are not compelling live tracks. Live tracks should evoke the very senses not covered in the albums and should be more dynamic than the album cut. Neither of those two do that. Most bands fall short in the live realm, a product of over-production in the studio. Live gigs should ebb and flow with dynamism but to not include a song that proved to ascend beyond the album and basically had it all, Supper's Ready, and include songs that cannot reach further than the album cut seems as though the Genesis has lost track of its roots. They did not outsell Pink Floyd, but they out played them. Maybe "proggers" acknowledged the sheer magnitude of the abilities of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman when comparing them to Tony banks but Banks wrote better pieces than either of those two. He understood the power in less is more and when that combined with well timed crescendos would create epic moments that Genesis is most known for with the live material.

So, here we are on the verge of a let down. I am trying to remain upbeat about that press conference promise but I have trepidations. I beg the members of Genesis to reconsider any thought of changing the set-list from the European one. Though if you do, consider going the other way with it to re-examine older songs with the same commitment that you have to these newer pieces. Give us here in America another chance.

The latest interview with Mike & Tony supports the post above. They are discussing dropping Ripples in favor of In Too Deep. And my god are they grumpy. Look at that video greeting. Yeah. Thanks for sticking with two guys who were performing with vigor 25 years ago, but today are two grumpy millionaires from Surrey.

It's almost as if I treat them like members of the 2004 Red Sox. Sure, some of them were truly great players (Ortiz, Cabrera, Lowe, Arroyo, Schilling, Foulke). Some were unlikely heroes (Bellhorn, Reese). But others really were idiots. Some were evangelicals I wouldn't want to be seen with (Nixon, Varitek). But if I actually saw any them in the flesh, I would pay for their dinner, buy them a drink, or just thank them.

Genesis' greatest work is behind them and they will always be thanked for that. What's frustrating is how they could get right back on track now if they just dropped the medleys, and added some songs we fans really haven't heard in a while. Ababab. Snowbound. Squonk. Burning Rope. Entangled. Man of Our Times. Dammit.

And just last week, Phil revealed that the tour is a royal pain in the ass because it is keeping him away from his two youngest children, who are back in Geneva with Orianne Cevey. Boo hoo.

As my friend M says:

I'm so sorry I've given Phil over $100.00 of my I owe him an apology too. I'm sorry Phil!! I didn't mean to keep you from your children. As a father I truly sympathize. I'm sorry I dragged you out of your home and forced you to do half ass versions of what was once great music.

I will keep an open mind, and follow this tour through the Genesis blogs. I will comment on the Hartford show after it takes place.