“We Can’t Dance” in Tampa – The story of the 1992 tour

Tampa, Florida, 17 May 1992. Genesis leave the stage at the fourth show of their gigantic “We Can’t Dance” tour after just two songs. They leave behind an almost rioting audience. The band had to cancel the show after “Land Of Confusion” and “No Son Of Mine” due to Phil Collins’ throat problems. Luckily enough, this was just a one-time affair. The “We Can’t Dance” tour became one of their biggest productions in terms of stage setup and venues.

Let’s take a look back at the massive production of the “We Can’t Dance” tour.

We Can’t Dance

We Can’t Dance“*, the band’s fourteenth studio album, was released in 1991. It was another monumental blockbuster and a huge success all over the world. Despite being in the business for almost 25 years, Genesis still reached top of the charts. In terms of sales, “We Can’t Dance” was one of their most successful albums. It produced four hit singles: “No Son Of Mine”, “I Can’t Dance”, “Hold On My Heart” and “Jesus He Knows Me”. All of them were accompanied by elaborate music videos. Especially “I Can’t Dance” and “Jesus He Knows Me” stand out for their high production and sense of humour.

Massive venues and Jumbotrone video screens on the “We Can’t Dance” tour

Of course, this blockbuster of an album had to be followed by a massive tour. Over 60 concerts were planned for North America and Europe in 1992. The band decided to play stadiums, although they were not too happy to play bigger venues. But the idea of playing three months of stadiums instead of ten months of arenas appealed to them. They did not want to be on tour for too long.

Therefore, the stage set up reached another level on this tour. With new technology available, three Sony Jumbotron video screens were put behind the stage so that everyone in the stadium, right to the back, could witness the action onstage. The band rehearsed in the Goodyear blimp hanger in Houston. It was one of only a few spaces that was large enough to accomodate the new stage set-up.

The setlist

Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks were of course accompanied by their long-time live members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer. The band rehearsed for a few weeks. The setlist included mainly material from the new album. They added a few tracks from its predecessors “Invisible Touch“‘ and “Genesis“* and the inevitable “Turn It On Again” as an encore. A 20-minute medley was played that included the band’s most prominent material from the 1970’s. It was different to the “In The Cage”-medley they had played for 15 years and a welcoming change.

Leaving the stage in Tampa, Florida

They started the tour on 8 May 1992 in Texas. On the fourth night of the tour in Tampa, Phil Collins’ voice gave up. When necessary, he had supported his voice with various medical methods on tour. And he knew that a stadium full of fans could sing the songs word by word and help him out. But on that night he could not continue. The band left the stage after just two songs, “Land Of Confusion” and “No Son Of Mine”.

But his voice worked for the rest of the tour. They ended the first leg of the tour with a huge open-air show in Knebworth Park in August that was broadcasted on Premiere. In the autumn of 1992, the band continued their tour and played various cities in their home country. Throughout the 80’s, the had not played that many shows in Great Britain. On this leg of the tour they made up for that. The concerts at Earl’s Court in London were filmed for video and later DVD release: The Way We Walk Live in Concert*.

“The Way We Walk”

The tour also produced a double live album, “Live – The Way We Walk (The Long And The Shorts)”. It was split into “The Shorts“* and “The Longs” instead of splitting an entire show in its middle. Some fans did not like this approach, but at this point in Genesis history, it was a wise decision. Many listeners knew them for their single hits. Other fans just liked their long and epic songs. In later releases of the double live album, the songs were put into the right order.

The tour turned out to be Genesis last with Phil Collins until 2007. It was also the last tour for drummer Chester Thompson and guitarist/bassist Daryl Stuermer until 2007. By the end of 1992, none of them knew. Also, the fans did not know that they had witnessed Genesis for the last time in this incarnation (if they even to to see the 1992 tour). But as we know, the band got together again 15 years later. But that is another story.

Title photo: Genesis Live- Land Of Confusion. Photo taken during the performance by Genesis of “Land of Confusion” in Knebworth, England (August 2nd, 1992). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Manny Hernandez/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Phil Collins’ departure from Genesis in 1996

On 28 March 1996, Phil Collins’ departure from Genesis was officially announced in a press release: “Genesis end twenty-year experiment, decide to replace Peter Gabriel as vocalist.” It was the end of an era. Here’s the story of his (temporary) departure.

Phil Collins decided to leave Genesis in 1993

In 1993, Genesis were at their peak. The group’s “We Can’t Dance” tour in 1992 had been huge. They could not become much bigger. In autumn 1993, they played a concert in Cowdray Ruins. It was a charity gig with acts such as Pink Floyd, Queen and Eric Clapton. Genesis played four songs and joined the whole lot for the encore. Nobobdy knew that this would be Phil Collins’ last gig with the band for a long time.

By this point, Phil Collins was writing what would become his most personal solo album Both Sides*. On this he played all the instruments and he produced the album all by himself. Both Sides was similar to his first solo album Face Value and reflected his situation: His marriage with his wife Jill was going to pieces because he had an affair with an old girlfriend from school, Lavinia Lang. His family was about to break once more. So he felt he could not sing Genesis songs anymore. He wanted to sing things he could relate to. Also, he was tired of having to wow whole stadiums with the band. He felt that he had come to the end of the road with Genesis.

On his solo album “Both Sides”, Phil Collins played all the instruments, sang and produced

So after the gig at Cowdray Ruins, he told manager Tony Smith about his decision. Smith, being a manager and businessman, advised him to do his solo album and tour and then think about the matter again. So Phil Collins went on a world tour in 1994 and 1995. In Switzerland, he met a young woman named Orianne Cevey. He fell in love. His marriage with Jill was over and he moved to Lake Geneva to live with Orianne. For this (and for his music), he was heavily criticized by the British press. Phil got to hate his public “Mr Nice Guy”-image. There was no space for Genesis in his life at this point. And so he flew to England to talk to Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, his oldest (musical) friends.

Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to carry on

The group met in manager Tony Smith’s kitchen in 1996 and Phil told them that he wanted to leave. Tony Banks’ replied with true British understatement “It’s a sad day, a very sad day.” And Mike Rutherford was actually surprised that Phil stayed that long in Genesis, having enjoyed a successful solo career for 15 years in 1996. Phil’s departure was announced twenty years and two days after his first gig as a vocalist with the band. With him leaving, the band not only lost their superstar singer and entertainer, but also a great composer and drummer.

But Mike and Tony decided to carry on and search for a new singer. Phil Collins continued his solo career, but not as successful as in the 1980’s. The three of them remained friends and saw each other every now and then. It was not until the early 2000’s that they started to appear again as a trio for certain occasions. Finally in 2006, ten years after Phil’s departure, they reunited officially as a group to go on tour. But that is another story.

Title photo: The world famous band – Genesis. Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford. (Photo 1991) . Source: Wikimedia Commons, David Scheinmann / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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The Longs (1993) – Genesis

After the “We Can’t Dance” tour in 1992, Genesis released two live albums titled “The Way We Walk” (1992/93). For this release a “typical” Genesis concert from that time was split in two. The first volume, “The Shorts” contained the hits, the second volume “The Longs” contained their longer, more epic songs. “Live – The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs” was released in January 1993 . It was their last release with Phil Collins before he left the group and the band’s last no. 1 album in the UK.

The second volume of the live release “The Way We Walk”

All the songs on the live album were recorded on the “We Can’t Dance” tour in 1992. It starts with the impressive “Old Medley” which incoporates snippets from “Dance On A Volcano”, “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, “The Musical Box”, “Firth Of Fifth”, “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” and more. The sound of the album is pristine, the band has probably never sounded better. They were a tight unit at this point and in their prime. The whole production is great and you notice a stronger focus on Mike Rutherford’s and Daryl Stuermer’s guitar playing. This shift in sound came with new producer Nick Davis. He had also produced Genesis’ last studio album “We Can’t Dance”.

The medley is followed by “Driving The Last Spike”, “Domino (Part I: In The Glow Of The Night, Part II: The Last Domino)”, “Fading Lights”, “Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea” and the “Drum Duet” between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson. There is no weak song on this compilation. Apart from the medley, the other songs all come from the albums “Genesis” (1983), “Invisible Touch” (1986) and “We Can’t Dance” (1991).

Their last number 1 album with Phil Collins

All of the songs sound stronger and better than on the albums. Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer certainly play their part in it. Chester’s drumming and Daryl’s bass lines on “Driving The Last Spike” lift the song up on another level. “Fading Lights” is interesting as it is only played by the three band members (Tony, Phil and Mike). It is a typical long song in band tradition with an extraordinary instrumental part (way better than on record). The lyrics about fading memories are written by Tony and it almost seems as if Genesis were discreetly saying goodbye to their fans. Was it irony or prophecy that the band really split up afterwards?

“Domino” and “Home By The Sea” both sound much better than on the record, especially because the e-drums are replaced by real drums and there is much more energy in the performance. Those songs never sounded better. The songs from the “Old Medley” that would have sounded interesting as standalone tracks are “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” and “I Know What I Like”. Especially the first one would have sounded very modern between the more recent hits.

Many fans do not like the way the band split up the two “The Way We Walk” volumes. Nonetheless, “The Longs” is a great compilation with many of the songs presented in their best versions.