April 10, 2007

I sometimes think that the only thing I actually carried away of any value from my college years was an appreciation for several musicians and music groups. I came to love the group Yes for instance, and started listening to Neil Young and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. And since it was college, I found a greater appreciation for Pink Floyd for reasons you can imagine.

But by far, the musical group that I’ve carried with me with the most enthusiasm is Genesis. By the time I was introduced to them, Peter Gabriel was no longer with the group and drummer Phil Collins had taken over lead vocals for two albums. That particular Phil Collins wasn’t yet the sometimes sticky sweet pop star that makes me periodically cringe now, that he morphed into years later. That Phil Collins still had long hair and a beard, sometimes looked like Charles Manson (take a look at the pictures on Seconds Out), and played the Artful Dodger on stage as he had done (really) when he was younger.

The first time I heard Trick of Tale, and especially the cuts “Squonk” and”Ripples,” I was hooked. I borrowed that album from the guy who introduced me to their music numerous times before he finally just gave it to me, because he’d dropped it and chipped out Squonk on the first side.

I wasn’t especially enamored with Wind and Wuthering, but when the live Seconds Out was released, that was something special — live, in Paris, to an appreciative audience. It was an epiphany. But guitarist Steve Hackett left after that, upset that he didn’t get more songs on Wind & Wuthering. I thought the soaring guitar pieces were gone, but bassist Mike Rutherford stepped forward on guitar for the studio albums and Tony Banks’ did magic on the keyboards, and the live performances were definitely more than ably handled by Daryl Stuermer, who played both guitars and bass. They were also joined by drummer Chester Thompson on tour, since Collins was now front man. Stuermer and Thompson still play with Genesis on tour, but irritatingly, aren’t listed as full members of the band.

After Hackett’s departure, Collins, Rutherford, and Banks released And Then There Were Three, which had a couple of good cuts but for the most part was a let down, for me anyway. It moved away from the progressive-art sound, and though they had a strong following in Europe up to then, it disappointed long-time fans. Yet the album went gold on the strength of “Follow You, Follow Me,” foreshadowing Collins’ pop stardom with Genesis’ first big hit.

Three was supported with a tour and I made a trip to Dayton’s Hera Arena to see them. This was back in the general admission, festival seating days, where everyone could gather in front of the stage, which we did. I’d gone with three college friends, including the guy who introduced me to their music. We were very, very close to the stage, maybe 20 feet, passing a periodic joint up and down the seemingly endless row of spectators. I’m still amazed my dorm room keys with the roach clip on them made them back to me when the joint ended. Ah, those were the good ol’ days 😉

Genesis formed when the members were still in school in their mid-teens, Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Chris Stewart and Anthony Phillips. Drummer Stewart was replaced by John Mayhew, whom Collins replaced in 1970, the year Phillips left. Steve Hackett took over for Phillips. It’s hard to believe Genesis been around for 40 years. Collins left the band for several years after the “The Way We Walk” (We Can’t Dance) tour. Rutherford and Banks carried on for one album with vocals by Ray Wilson, and while several selections on that album were good, I felt sorry for Wilson. It had to suck to be him, trying to rise to all that history.

Rutherford and Banks finally disbanded Genesis after that album, only to get back together with Collins at the end of last year for their current reunion world tour. They tried to get the 5 man line up together again — Hackett on guitars and Peter Gabriel doing some of the vocals, but it didn’t pan out. Hackett sent his regrets but wished them well, and while Gabriel agreed in principle, they could never pin him down as to tour dates.

I’ve seen Genesis in concert 5 times, in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. The first concert was the most memorable for numerous reasons. I remember the Duke tour as excessively loud in the horrible acoustics of Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum, the sometimes odd song selection of the ABACAB tour, and the Phil Collins impersonator roaming the RCA dome in Indianapolis prior to the show starting for “We Can’t Dance.”

It would be nice to see them again on this world tour but I’ll be damned if I’m paying $200, $500, or more, for tickets (I saw third row, middle tickets on sale in Columbus for $1300! WTF!?).

Who the hell’s bright idea was this to gouge fans after 30 or 40 years? Maybe if Gabriel was participating, it would be worth a couple of hundred for decent seats, but certainly not $1300.

Sorry guys, this time I pass. I’ll go see Rush in the fall instead 🙂


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