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Genesis Enjoying Friendly Reunion Tour

Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

This year's Genesis reunion is not exactly feeding the gossip rags with drama.

There's been no backstage arguments or on stage explosions. No blog postings dissing other band members or the group's performances. No need for hell to freeze over.

It's simply been a friendly get-together of the group's most successful lineup -- singer-drummer Phil Collins, guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks -- playing a limited number of shows together for the first time in 15 years. And loving it.

"It's been great -- I mean, it's really been enjoyable tour," says Rutherford, 56. "It's a great feeling. The playing is very good; I'm very proud of the standard of the way we play on stage.

"It's just been a lot of fun, really."

The peaceable nature of Genesis' reunion is not really a revelation. Collins left the group in 1994 on the best possible terms, saying all the right things and maintaining his friendship with Rutherford and Banks even after his departure.

"I love the guys," says Collins, 56, who's had an even more successful solo career that includes writing songs for Walt Disney's "Tarzan" film and Broadway adaptation. "We've stayed great friends throughout the whole thing. Even when I wasn't in the band we saw each other lots, for see each other quite a lot, for various reasons. There were birthday parties, weddings, all kinds of things...

"So it's not really that special in terms of us getting back together. We just haven't been working in the same office, as it were."

Banks, 57, adds that, "The funny thing is, when you get back together it's just like you'd never been apart, really. You just slip back into the same way you used to behave...I don't think the dynamics have changed."

Genesis is decidedly back at work again -- at least for the time being. The group, which has sold 150 million albums worldwide, is in the midst of its first world tour since 1992. It played stadium shows in Europe during the summer and is in the midst of a short run of arena dates in North America.

The reunion has inspired product -- a six-CD box set of Genesis' 1976-1982 releases, a two-CD compilation "Turn It On Again -- The Hits: The Tour Edition" and a lavish band biography, "Genesis Chapter and Verse." A live CD from the European concerts and a DVD from a July 14 concert at Circo Massimo in Rome should be out before the end of the year.

But the band members' primary interest is playing the shows.

"We're not here for any reason other than the fact that we actually want to do it," Collins explains. "We want to play together and do these shows and go out there and see if anybody else wants to listen."

Rutherford, 56, says the genesis of this year's reunion was working on the "Genesis Chapter and Verse." "It had an effect on us," he notes. "I think it made us appreciate a little bit more than normal what a great journey it's been, and what fun it still is."

The initial reunion conversations, which became serious in 2005 and 2006, involved original singer Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett and a short tour playing the group's 1974 rock opera "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." Gabriel, however, opted out in order to finish his next album, which is due in 2008. After that, Collins, Rutherford and Banks decided to move forward as a trio since Hackett only played on two albums after Gabriel left.

"People have said, 'Oh, what a shame Steve's not with you," Rutherford says. "But it was either Peter and Steve, doing the old stuff, or the three of us. There's no middle ground, really. It wouldn't really work any other way."

Genesis convened with its longtime touring members -- guitarist/bassist Darryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson -- during October of 2006 in New York to begin preparing for the tour. "Day one was slightly odd," Rutherford recalls, "and then day two was like you haven't been apart for more than a couple of years."

Banks, who co-founded Genesis with Rutherford and Gabriel in 1966 at Charterhouse, a private high school in England, recalls feeling "quite nervous for the first show we did, in Helsinki. But once you've got the first couple songs under your belt it was OK, really."

For Collins, meanwhile, the reunion has been "quite extraordinary...because I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy it. It was a big surprise to me just how warm the audience (was)...And I think what we're doing now seems to be as strong if not stronger. I don't know if it's because we're a little bit more relaxed as people or...whatever."

All three men say that one way Genesis is keeping relaxed is by pointedly not considering the future beyond the final dates Oct. 12-13 in Los Angeles. "At the moment we're avoiding making long-term plans," Rutherford notes. Another reunion that includes Gabriel and Hackett is still a possibility, but no one is promising a full-scale reactivation of any form of Genesis.

"We're certainly not averse to the possibility of doing something, but we're not planning anything beyond this," says Banks. "I think we're a bit loathe to get into the whole cycle of writing and recording and promoting, that whole thing. Those days are probably behind us."

Rutherford concurs, explaining that, "it's not like we re-formed the band and we're going to get back and do an album. But that doesn't mean we can't do stuff together -- but in a slightly different way.

"Right now we're having a very good time. We're enjoying ourselves, and so we'll talk when we get there about what else we might do rather than map out this big, long plan."

Genesis performs at 8 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 30) at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $204.50, $103.50, $79.50 and $59.50. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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