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Concert Reviews:
Genesis Turns It On Again At The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- Drama and spectacle seem prerequisites for classic rock 'n' roll reunion tours. But Genesis seems to have figured out how to pull one off without either.

Bringing its Turn It On Again Tour, its first road trip in 15 years, to town Sunday night (Sept. 30) for its first-ever show the Palace of Auburn Hills, the British group presented itself as nothing less -- or more -- than three longtime mates who still like playing together and can still do it spectacularly, without Police or Van Halen-style interpersonal histrionics. Even the extravagant light show on which Genesis once staked its live reputation was more modest, more about volume and texture than the state-of-the-art shock 'n' awe that was the band's calling card in the '70s and '80s.

Fortunately Genesis has a body of music that could carry the night on its own merits, and the fact that the group members -- singer-drummer Phil Collins, guitarist-bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks, along with longtime aides Daryl Stuermer on guitar and bass and Chester Thompson on drums -- haven't lost their touch with it made the two and a half-hour show that much better.

Genesis' greatest challenge, and accomplishment, was finding a way to please fans of its several distinct eras of music-making. With part or all of 25 songs, Sunday's show was unapologetically nostalgic, visiting original frontman Peter Gabriel's tenure via songs such as the frenetic "In the Cage" and a gorgeous "Carpet Crawlers," instrumental segments from the "The Cinema Show" and "Firth of Fifth," and a rendition of "I Know What I Like" -- during which Collins performed his customer tambourine acrobatics -- that was accompanied by archival images on the large patchwork screen behind the band.

Those favoring Genesis' expansive and intricate playing could also sink their ears into the two-part "Domino" and "Home By the Sea"/"Second Home By the Sea" suites, portions of the "Duke" album and "Los Endos," which followed a drum duet by Collins and Thompson that began on a pair of high stools and moved on to their kits. And the hits kept coming, too, with a generous selection from the best-selling "Invisible Touch" album along with "Turn it On Again," "Hold on My Heart," "Follow You Follow Me" and the cheeky "I Can't Dance."

Collins, who's enjoyed the greatest solo success of all the group members, was full of dry wit and silly patter throughout the evening, leading "crowd participation" schtick before "Home By the Sea" and "Domino" and mugging his way through "I Can't Dance." It was the kind of good-humored showmanship that's long separated Genesis from its po' faced progressive rock brethren, and it came out so easily that it felt like the group had barely been gone 15 minutes, much less 15 years.

Whether Genesis' reunion is a lasting concern is up on the air. But it's likely that anyone in Sunday's multi-generational crowd would be pleased if the group decided to turn it on yet again -- and preferably sooner than in 15 more years.



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