As a result of a freakish act of meteorology, a solitary rain cloud in an otherwise blue sky parked itself above Twickenham Stadium and proceeded to drizzle over tens of thousands of Genesis fans. It was not the only mystifying event in a damp squib of an evening.
Why have Genesis reformed? “I think we are all loaded enough not to worry about where the next million or two is coming from,” Phil Collins admitted when they announced this reunion tour last year. “This is just about music, us getting together and playing some songs.”
Very well, it’s a nostalgia trip. But why was their show so lacking in stagecraft? Back when Peter Gabriel was their singer in the early 1970s, their concerts were renowned for visual flair. Gabriel would perform mime routines and wear strange costumes such as donning a fox’s head and red dress to sing some 20-minute prog rock epic.
Scroll forward to Twickenham, 2007 and Genesis appeared in a very different light. There was no Gabriel, who chose not to take part in the reunion, and scant showmanship. The three original members present – Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks – were technically faultless but woefully bereft of stage presence. Rutherford on guitar radiated the charisma of a butler. Banks, hidden behind keyboards, was even more anonymous.
Collins, who succeeded Gabriel as singer in 1976, gamely divided his time between vocals and drums, and provided the evening’s rare flashes of entertainment such as a bout of bad dancing at the end of “I Can’t Dance”. Yet his “cheeky chappy” stage persona wore thin.
The setlist was a greatest hits package, a flawlessly performed but airless trip through the band’s history. Early songs such as “I Know What I Like” occasionally swelled with prog-rock grandeur: the band’s static performance robbed them of drama, however. Their 1980s stadium rock numbers were bland although “Invisible Touch” pressed a few nostalgic buttons. It was an unexpected flash of life, like a corpse suddenly sitting upright in a horror film.