Live Report - Genesis - The Last Domino? Tour - 25 September 2021 - AO Arena, Manchester, UK
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Reviewed by Goat

Genesis in 2021 would be a must-see live show regardless of the fact that it's been a long fourteen years since the band have toured, and it was especially mandatory given reports of Phil Collins' ill health and his interview statements that this will be it; that's all, indeed. Last chance to see three legends in action (whatever your views on the departed M. Gabriel, Hackett, et al, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford are surely deserving of high status) and a last chance to see a band who have been together in some form or another since 1967. And in these post-Covid times - in this well-vaccinated United Kingdom, at least - any tour is a chance to live sweet life again. So sallying forth to watch three legends and their hired hands replay some of the greatest prog and pop hits of most of our life times? Non. Brainer.

Yet it turned out to be a bittersweet evening. Not for the music, which despite being very 70s and 80s of its day, turns out to be timeless when played live, but the performances themselves. Rutherford and Banks themselves are flawless, and it's hard to fault long-term hand Daryl Stuermer or either of the two backup vocalists/percussionists. And yet it was apparent from the very start of the concert why they were necessary, as a frail Phil Collins walked out with a stick, seated at the front of the stage for the duration of the show and often performing leant on the microphone stand. Perhaps retrospectively it's hard to see quite where the 80s sex appeal of Phil Collins came from, a man who even fans would admit looked like a less cuddly Bob Hoskins! The band themselves were always glad to poke fun at themselves, as in consumerist parody I Can't Dance; but that Phil Collins is long gone.

Instead we have a distracted, grandfatherly figure, singing strongly but without attempting notes that are too high... particularly gut-punching if you've ever seen a live showing from Phil, a man who is up there with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson as having sold over 100 million records both as a sole artist and as a member of a band. And now, according to interviews he can no longer even hold drumsticks, making his perspective during instrumental moments where he gazed sadly at drummer son Nicholas especially heartrending. He mimed along to first song proper Turn it on Again where once he'd have played, and even his once infamous tambourine dance routine to I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was reduced to a weak imitation, after which he then very Englishly and sarcastically gestured for applause. Tempus fugit.

Yet it's remarkable that despite the clear effects of age, Genesis can still put on an incredible show. Throwing fare like Home By the Sea and Land of Confusion in early centres the gig immediately, even without the latter's post-Covid updates like references to panic-brought toilet rolls, and a downright terrifying red-lit Mama is only enhanced by Collins' snarl. A mid-show acoustic-led interlude of three beautiful songs in That's All, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Follow You Follow Me were performed with heart and soul, and ensuing classics like Firth of Fifth and No Son of Mine rocked an audience that mainly consisted of the older fans seeking to regain the youth they once felt when these songs were new. Domino, that weird long song that always gets forgotten from Invisible Touch, was performed in full and sounded better than ever complete with crowd-friendly call and response introduction, and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch itself received a hugely enthusiastic response, the audience eager to show love.

And any audience would, of course, be more than sated with a finale trio of I Can't Dance, Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, and a heartfelt finale of Carpet Crawlers. It's the end of an era, a band that once ruled the stage departing from it in the best way possible in the circumstances and although the heartbreak is waiting in the wings, there's more than enough wonderful music to keep your soul aflutter. A return to youth for many, a love and invocation of better times for the others, and a truly excellent live show that dealt with life's unfortunate realities as well as possible. More than a little chilling, too, to emerge into the fresh night air to be greeted with assault-rifle-laden police officers guarding us against a repeat of the tragic events of 22 May 2017, when 23 innocents were murdered by a suicide bomber as they exited an Ariana Grande concert at the same venue. May their souls find peace, and may live music always survive here in defiance of evil.

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted
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Live Report - King Crimson - Uncertain Times Tour - 9th November 2018 - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - Voivod & Bio-Cancer - 6th October 2018 - Rebellion, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
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