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Genesis - Live Over Europe 2007 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.24 | 316 ratings

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3 stars Genesis' 2007 reunion tour might have been driven solely by crass commercialism, but I'm still glad it and the ensuing live album happened. When rumors of a reunion including Gabriel and Hackett fell through, leaving only the "pop" lineup of Genesis, I (I'm sure this was the case for many others as well) figured it was just going to be a straight continuation of the Way We Walk tour. I figured the band would continue to distort its full history as presented in its live concerts, playing down the existence of pre-Touch material, and that the show would be a gaudy, artistically bankrupt disaster.

I'm glad I was wrong. The setlist does draw heavily from Invisible Touch and We Can't Dance, but this is definitely not a sequel to the Live: The Way We Walk albums. If anything, this is an amalgamation of all of the Collins-era live releases thus far: Seconds Out, Three Sides Live, Live: The Way We Walk and Archive 2. The band makes some of the same mistakes found on those albums, like Collins trying to ham up "I Know What I Like In Your Wardrobe," or Steurmer's awkward attempts to add his own generic flavor to the "Firth of Fifth" solo, but the flaws somehow don't irritate me as much this time around. Furthermore, the album sounds WAY less crass than the Way We Walk albums ever did. It's hard to quite fathom it in the 2000's and beyond, but the Way We Walk albums came out when one of the biggest pop stars in the world was a short, balding ex-drummer (who would occasionally play to rev up the crowd) who really liked cheese in his songs. The band's "artsy" past was clearly something Phil wanted less and less to do with over time, and he (and therefore the band) handled it extremely carelessly by the end (remember the "Old Medley?"). The band's acknowledgement of the majority of its back catalogue was token at best by 1991, and since all of the fans were there solely to hear the newest stuff, nobody really cared.

Then came the backlash. Collins left Genesis because he didn't need them anymore, but sometime after he did the Tarzan soundtrack and performed in the Super Bowl halftime show, the world largely stopped caring about Phil Collins. On top of that, prog rock started to work its way back into, if not popularity, then at least marginal acceptance by an ever-increasing number of people. Along these lines, Genesis' overall fanbase inevitably kept shrinking (as those who had come on board in 1986 and 1991 fell off and found other interests), but the number of fans of the Gabriel-era (and also of the '76-'83 Collins era) kept slowly creeping upwards. In short, by 2007, the best way for Genesis to make money as a touring unit was not to treat its past as something to be held at arm's length.

Except for the strange omission of anything from Abacab, every album from England to Dance is represented by at least one song. Amazingly enough, for all of the potential landmines in the band's discography, there are only two songs that I'd gladly do without; "Invisible Touch" and "Hold On My Heart," both of which I have always hated and always will hate. I do still find "Afterglow" a little tacky, but after having listened to it several dozen times in my life, I've finally come to a point where I basically like it, and I'm happy to hear it on this album (especially in context). The rest of the setlist, then, is freaking great (by the standards of what I could expect from the band at this point, anyway). The band draws heavily from Duke in the early portion of the show; the opening track is the beginning of "Behind the Lines" coupled with "Duke's End," the first song with vocals is "Turn It On Again," and a chunk of "Duke's Travels" pops up later during the "In The Cage"/"Cinema Show" medley (yes! They brought it back!) that segues into "Afterglow." The band also brings out Trick of the Tail material in the second disc, and both steal the show. "Ripples" isn't quite as good as the Archive 2 version, mainly because Collins' vocals are much thinner and more worn out than in 1980, but it's close, as Steurmer once again makes the guitar parts as beautiful as they always should have been in the original. Then, a few tracks later, after a surprisingly listenable drum duet, the band breaks into "Los Endos," which once again sounds even better live than it did in the studio (it's always been one of my favorites on Seconds Out). I didn't bother to go see the tour when it came through Chicago, but I wish I had if only to hear the moment when Rutherford brings out the "Dance on a Volcano" guitar line and Banks rises up with his synths.

The Gabriel-era material is represented by "I Know What I Like," the middle portion of "Firth of Fifth," the "In the Cage" medley, and a surprising show closer: The Carpet Crawlers! I actually far prefer this version to the one from Seconds Out, mainly because Phil's lower register feels a lot more natural here than it did there, and because sticking it at the end gives the show a "reverent" vibe that it wouldn't have had with another track finishing things off.

Elsewhere, we have "Follow You Follow Me" (great!) from Three, "Mama" (with weaker vocals than before but some of the best of this show) and "Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea" from Genesis, and of course a lot of the obligatory Touch/Dance material. Touch is represented by the title track (prefaced by a shortened "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight," just as it was on Way We Walk), "Land of Confusion," "Throwing it All Away" (which still has a tacky crowd-working vocal introduction), and a rousing version of "Domino." I've never been able to figure out how Phil felt about singing a song like "Domino," but my gut tells me it was part of a tradeoff with Tony to get "Hold On My Heart" into the setlist. No matter, Phil gives it just as good of a whirl as he did in tours past. And finally, aside from the horrid "Hold On My Heart," Dance is represented by "No Son of Mine" (extremely moving here) and "I Can't Dance," a song I like but which should have been left in the can. Nowhere else on the album are the ravages of time on Phil's vocals better shown then when he yelps the "*I*" in "I Can't Dance," when before that was one of the last remnants of him bothering to put any kind of rasp in his voice. I guess it was obligatory, but meh; couldn't he have done "That's All" instead? Or how about "Abacab?"

All reservations aside (aside from what I mentioned already, Tony's keys sound REALLY cheezy in some places; if I can call Rick Wakeman on having excessively cheezy synth tones in his old age, why can't I call Tony on it?), this album is a lot of fun if you like Collins-era Genesis, which I basically do. Don't spend full price on it, but don't avoid it forever, either.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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