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Genesis: Live at Wembley Stadium

Ben Fong-Torres

Ben Fong-Torres

Posted to Artist Spotlight on April 17, 2014

It’s ironic that when Peter Gabriel, recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, split from Genesis, there was talk about the rest of the band tiring of his stealing the spotlight with his on-stage theatrics.

They wind up appointing their balding drummer as their lead singer, and he turns out to be one of the greatest stage-hoggers of them all.

Sure, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks are near-geniuses on guitar and keyboards, but, as evidenced by Live at Wembley Stadium, Genesis, circa 1987, was totally PC: Phil Collins. He’d even established a solo career, with hits like “In the Air Tonight,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Against All Odds” and “Sussudio.” He was a mega-star.

To his credit—or perhaps because the other guys demanded it—Genesis concerts did not include any Collins solo numbers. No matter. Genesis had enough hits of their own to fill a concert, and, while the progressive rock they’d begun with in the 80’s had smoothed out with some hook-heavy, near-pop tunes, they arranged their numbers so that even their chart-toppers, like “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” and “That’s All” (“a song,” says Phil, “about living with someone who turns out to be a pain in the ass”) give the musicians plenty of room to remind fans of their prog roots.

Early adopters can also dig into “Drum Duet,” highlighting Chester Thompson, who not only played while Collins worked the stage with his songs and bits, but made for a terrific tandem, side by side with Collins. Besides “Duet,” they show their stuff on the 1982 tune, “Abacab,” and on the instrumental, “The Brazilian.”

From what I can tell, this film draws from four shows Genesis performed, to a total of over 300,000 fans, on their “Invisible Tour,” named for the Invisible Touch album, whose title cut hit Number One in 1986. The audio, the fast-cut camera work, and the stage lighting (especially gorgeous on “Los Endos”), years before high-tech video trickery came into vogue, add to the spectacle.

Speaking of endos, do stick around for “Turn it On Again,” an early Genesis number that leads into a celebration of great R&B and rock oldies, with Collins in Blues Brothers drag.

That’s all. But that’s plenty.

So, what went on backstage at a Genesis or Phil Collins concert? Ben Fong-Torres spoke with Phil for a college magazine. Sex, drugs and rock and roll? It was more like massages, whiskey, and rock and roll. Listen here.

Even if you weren’t reading Rolling Stone magazine in the late '60s /early '70s, you might still know who Ben Fong-Torres is from the movie “Almost Famous.” Ben Fong-Torres is the legendary Rolling Stone Senior Editor who was characterized in the Cameron Crowe movie and now,… More