The end of the Invisible Touch Tour at Wembley 1987

On July 4, 1987, Genesis finished their gigantic Invisible Touch tour at Wembley Stadium. It was the fourth sold out night in a row at Wembley.

Invisible Touch

In 1986, Genesis released the album “Invisible Touch“*. It became their most successful album, peaking at #1 in the U.K. and #3 in the U.S. It produced five hit singles: “Invisible Touch”, “Tonight Tonight Tonight”, “Land of Confusion”, “In Too Deep” and “Throwing It All Away”. Songs like the title track, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” and “Land Of Confusion” with its famous spitting image video would dominate the radio and music TV stations and the international charts of 1986/1987. Genesis were everywhere and bigger than ever. So of course, the band went on a massive tour through North America, Australia, Japan and Europe before finishing in Britain with four sold-out nights at Wembley Stadium in front of 300,000 people.

The Invisible Touch tour

The tour began in the U.S. in September 1986 and included 112 dates and sold close to two million tickets. It ended in July 1987. In Australia and New Zealand, the five-man line-up was accompanied by a four-piece string section on “In Too Deep” and “Your Own Special Way”. They had to invite the quartet because of local regulations that required them to employ local musicians.

At this time, the band was not only a hit-machine, but a working and brilliant live act. The Vari Lite light show was impressive as always. The band had much material to rely on, but chose mainly new songs from their hit album and the albums before.

The shows were always opened with “Mama” (which sometimes lacked a bit of atmosphere in daylight) and ended with the “Turn It On Again” hit medley that the band had established on the previous tour. The medley included “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, “Satisfaction”, “Twist and Shout”, “Pinball Wizard”, “All Day and All of the Night” and “Karma Chameleon”.

Older songs in the set included “Los Endos”, “Home By The Sea” (including it’s meanwhile standard ghost-story introduction) and another “In The Cage” medley. When the tour began, they had played “In That Quiet Earth” and the second half of the epic “Supper’s Ready” after “In The Cage”. However, during the tour Phil had difficulties reaching the higher notes in “Supper’s Ready”, so by the middle of the tour they had gone back to the usual ending of “In That Quiet Earth” and “Afterglow”.

New songs included “Domino” (with another – soon to be famous – introduction by Phil), “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”, “Throwing It All Away”, where the call-and-response singing developed throughout the tour, and “Invisible Touch” itself.

Live at Wembley Stadium

By the time Genesis got to Wembley, they had performed the set so often that it had become a true piece of fine art and musicianship. Interestingly, only two shows were scheduled at Wembley, but the demand for tickets was so high, that a third and then a record-breaking fourth night were added.

The Wembley shows were filmed and released as video and as DVD in 2003*. Unfortunately the famous “In The Cage” medley was left out of the release because on every night, the tapes had to be changed during that song.

Apart from that, the results and the performance are astonishing. The band truly ended the tour on a high note there. Looking back at the videos and listening to the songs and performances, we can say that Genesis were at their peak at this very point at Wembley Stadium. Afterwards, the fans had to wait four more years for a new Genesis record.

Title photo: Genesis Nancy 1987. Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson. Genesis en concert à Nancy le 14 juin 1987 au stade Marcel-Picot de Nancy-Tomblaine Source: Wikimedia Commons, Fredamas / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Steve Hackett’s last show with Genesis

On July 3, 1977, Genesis played the last show of their “Wind And Wuthering” tour and (unbeknown to them at that point) also the last show with lead guitarist Steve Hackett.

Wind And Wuthering

In December 1976, Genesis had released “Wind and Wuthering“*, their second album since Peter Gabriel’s departure. The band had become a foursome the year before, drummer Phil Collins had taken over the vocal duties. He had proved that he could fill this role easily on the previous album “A Trick of the Tail“* and the following tour in 1976.

By this point, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford were the main songwriters with Phil Collins being more of a player and arranger. Guitarist Steve Hackett felt that not enough of his material was used. He was frustrated about his role in the group and decided to leave Genesis after the 1977 tour.

The Wind & Wuthering tour

The band set out for a huge tour in 1977 that would lead them to South America for the first time and through Europe and the US. On drums, they were accompanied by American drummer Chester Thompson. It was his first tour with them and he would remain with the band as a live drummer until 2007 (with a short interruption in the 1990s).

Genesis reached a new peak in live performances and was voted “Best live group” in 1977. This was captured in the double live album “Seconds Out“*.

The last show

The last show of the tour (and also Steve Hackett’s last show as a member of Genesis) took place in the Olympiahalle, Munich, on July 3, 1977. They opened the set with “Squonk” as they had done throughout most of the tour, then they played “One For The Vine”, a Banks composition from the new album. “Inside And Out” from the recent EP “Spot The Pigeon” was added on some European dates and was also played in Munich. Among the highlights of the show were songs like “The Carpet Crawlers”, “I Know What I Like” and “Supper’s Ready”, some of which had changed a lot since the days when Peter Gabriel sang them. Also, the band had started to play medleys on the tour before and continued to do so on the “Wind & Wuthering” tour. “Dance On A Volcano” and “Los Endos” were combined as well as “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” and the closing section of “The Musical Box”. The band also played “Firth Of Fifth” that night in which Steve plays the famous guitar solo. Neither the fans nor the band knew that they had witnessed him playing it live for the last time.

Steve leaves the band

Steve Hackett had been the first Genesis member to record a solo album. There, he included some of the music that was not used on Genesis albums. During the period as a four-piece-band, he wanted to have a certain percentage on each album for his own songs. The others disagreed; they were a democratic band. So he started recording solo albums and felt that his input on Genesis albums became less and less.

Also, when the band mixed the live album “Seconds Out” in July 1977, he could not stand listening to tracks like “I Know What I Like” anymore after having played them for months at this point. Also, he felt that after playing shows with audiences of 20.000 people, there was nothing new to strive for. So one day he phoned Mike Rutherford and told him he wanted to leave. Mike knew that Steve had been unhappy in Genesis for some time, so he did not try to talk him out of it. Later that day or the following day, Phil Collins drove from West London to Trident Studios, where they mixed the live album. He passed Steve on the street and told him to jump into the car. Steve acted a bit oddly, said “Speak to Mike, he’ll explain” and went off. When Phil arrived at the studio, Tony and Mike informed him that Steve had left the band.

The three remaining members then went on mixing “Seconds Out” and afterwards went into the studio to record their next album. They would remain a three-piece-band in the studio for the rest of their career and Steve Hackett would continue his career as a solo artist.

Title photo: Genesis Steve Hackett. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Jean-Luc / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0). Originally posted to Flickr as Genesis.

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Genesis at Reading Festival 1971

Reading Festival Line Up 1973

On June 26, 1971, Genesis appeared at Reading Festival for the first time.

Peter Gabriel had broken his ankle

On their first appearance at Reading Festival, Genesis were low on the bill. Other artists that performed at the festival were Lindisfarne, Terry Reid, Renaissance and Sha Na Na. There were the usual problems that a festival and its visitors have to deal with: Rain, mud and an unscheduled police squad. For Genesis, the gig at Reading followed the incident at the Friars Club, where Peter Gabriel had broken his ankle.

On June 19th, Genesis had played at Friars in Aylesbury and during the encore of “The Knife”, Peter Gabriel had jumped into the crowd. Unfortunately, the audience parted when they saw him coming and he hit the floor, breaking his ankle. Following the incident, he played at least one show in a wheelchair at the art college in Lincoln. Tour manager, roadie, sound engineer and friend of the band Richard Macphail remembers Gabriel cavorting in the wheelchair on the stage, which was a traditional theatre stage that sloped forward towards the audience. He thought that Peter was going to fall off the stage and break his neck. Luckily, he did not and the band could play Reading Festival at June 26, 1971.

Reading Festival

The 11th National Jazz and Blues festival took place in Reading for the first time that year. Before, the event had taken place in Richmond, Windsor, Sunbury and Plumpton, but each time, the locals had complained, so the festival had to move on. The festival usually takes place in August, so admittedly it is a bit unclear to the author why the festival took place on 25, 26, and 27 June 1971. The ticket names the location as “Thames-side Arena, Richfield Avenue” and the festival is titled “Reading Festival of folk and progressive music”. The ticket for Saturday, June 26, cost £1.50.

Over the next few years, the festival would become one of the leading British rock festivals. Not only the greatest bands of the age played there, but it was also the birthplace for future superstars. Organizer Harold Pendleton was allowed to stage the festival in Reading, because the local council wanted to celebrate the town’s 1000th anniversary and really believed it to be a jazz and blues festival, which it had originally been in the 1960s.

Genesis performed on Saturday

In 1971, Genesis was not the only act of Charisma Records that played at Reading Festival. The already mentioned Lindisfarne were there as well as Van der Graaf Generator, and Bell & Arc and Audience. Other notable acts from this year were Arthur Brown, Rory Gallagher, Wishbone Ash, Medicine Head, Osibisa, Ian Matthews and Ralph McTell.

Due to their low billing, Genesis played midafternoon on the second day of the festival. Their performance was highlighted as one of the best of the event, and consequentially, they were invited back for the next two festivals.

During the summer of 1971, Genesis started to appear at outdoor rock festivals. Steve Hackett remembers that it used to rain for the first five years they played at festivals in England or Europe, always resulting in a mud bath. At Reading Festival, the power was fluctuating and the band could not get the organ in tune (and that meant that the Mellotron would be even worse to tune). They also tuned their twelve-string guitars in the dressing rooms and by the time they got on stage, they were already out of tune. Tuning a twelve-string guitar in front of an audience was almost impossible.

Not a festival band

Tony Banks thinks that Genesis were never a good festival group. It was difficult to build a dramatic atmosphere in daylight and most of the audiences did not really understand the long song with lots of chord changes. Also, the sound was mostly rubbish. Nevertheless, they builded a live following and got a reputation of being a good live band for festivals, but the best times were when they could play after dark at the end of a day with their own fans in the audience. However, at their first appearance at Reading, they already got some fans waving their Genesis flag during the gig.

Photo: Reading Festival Line Up 1973. Reading-festivaalin vuoden 1973 esiintyjälista Source: Wikimedia Commons, National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival. / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Genesis first gig abroad in Belgium

Genesis played their first gig abroad in La Ferme, Woluwe St. Lambert, Belgium on March 7, 1971. This is the story of their first gig overseas.

“Trespass” had charted in Belgium

In early 1971, the band had not yet been very successful in the UK. But things looked different on the continent: Trespass* had reached number one in Belgium. So the band with their new members Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar went to Belgium to play their first gig overseas.

The band could not afford cabins on the ferry

They crossed the channel on the night ferry and arrived the next morning. They had not slept, as they could not afford bunks and had therefore sat overnight on the boat with Phil throwing up. Getting through the day with beer and sandwiches, they drove straight to the gig and played.

The setlist

The setlist included a mixture of songs from Trespass, live favourites and two new songs. As usual during that time, they started with acoustic material and then built up to the heavier numbers. Luckily for us, a recording of the gig exists so we can listen to almost the whole gig (some bits are missing). It also includes the only available recording of the famous song “The Light”, which features embryonic elements of later songs, notably “Lilywhite Lilith”.

Starting with acoustic numbers, the first song was their newest one. “Happy The Man” (introduced by Peter as a song about a “man who eats his fingernails, probably”) is based on a Mike Rutherford riff and includes a Lindisfarne-like sing-along chorus. It was another attempt by the band to produce a hit single. The song was played a bit slower on that gig and has a very laidback attitude. “Stagnation” from Trespass follows (according to Gabriel a song about people “with bad breath”) and Phil’s drumming adds a swing to it that the studio version misses.

The Light

Several minutes and attempts to introduce the band follow, then they play the rare track “The Light”. The bass intro later became the verse of “Lilywhite Lilith” on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway* with Hackett’s guitar parts also being reused. “The Light” then turns into a prog rock song with a long jam between Banks and Hackett until the nice harmony vocals go back into a part that is familiar from the later “Lilywhite Lilith”. In comparison to other songs of the time, “The Light” seems very unusual for Genesis.

A mixture of songs from Trespass, live favourites and new songs

It is getting a bit quieter when “Twilight Alehouse” begins, a live standard at the time in which Tony dominates on the dramatic organ passage in the end. Peter then introduces the other new song “The Musical Box” in English and French and the version is slightly different to the album version. There is some extra music before the “And the clock” part, which is sung twice. Tony’s solo is longer and Steve’s shorter as he had only been in the band for two months. Even the iconic ending of this classic Gabriel-era tune is sung a bit different by Peter.

The Trespass-classic “The Knife” is introduced in French and the whole band rushes into the song. Tony’s organ leads them, Mike’s bass is the driving force, Steve still seems to have some trouble with the guitar solos, but is shining at the end. Peter’s flute part from the middle is unfortunately missing from the recording. The audience seems to have loved it; they applaud enthusiastically. The live classic “Going Out To Get You” is the encore, described by Peter as “A very old number about passion”. Again, Tony leads the band and Steve seems to be non-existent on the track. It even sounds as if he is not playing with the rest of the band on this last song.

It is interesting to listen back to the recording as it not only consists unreleased songs, but also songs that were still being created lyrically and musically. And of course it features the only known recorded version of the rare track “The Light”.

An important gig in Genesis history

The show was a success and a very important gig in Genesis history. At the end of this trip, they too the ferry back home, completely exhausted with Phil limping home, almost collapsing.

Photo: FOH PA mixing desk and associated gear for Genesis at a concert in the Liverpool Empire, 1970s, precise year unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rodhullandemu / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Peter Gabriel’s first solo gig

Peter Gabriel’s first gig as solo artist took place in the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey on 2, 3 or 5 March 1977.

His first album had come out in February 1977

The album Peter Gabriel* had come out in February and had produced the hit “Solsbury Hill”. Just like for the album, the motto of the following tour was “Expect the Unexpected”. His band was a group of top studio musicians and old friends.

Photo of Tony Levin during his visit to Caracas (Venezuela), playing bass for Peter Gabriel.

Tony Levin was there on bass and has been with Peter since then. The bass player, who had worked among others with Paul Simon, is the only musician from the first album that is still with Peter Gabriel today.

The other musicians on that first gig and the first leg of the tour were Allan Schwartzberg on drums, Larry Fast on synthesizers, Steve Hunter on guitars, Jimmy Maelen on percussion and Phil Aaberg on keyboards.

A bit surprisingly, Robert Fripp, who had been on the album, was also there on guitar; he performed on the tour as “Dusty Rhodes”, often standing behind the amps or offstage, showing once again that he did not like the rock-tour machinery. He also preferred to be introduced by Peter as the totally unknown Dusty Rhodes.

When did they play the first gig?

The first gig of the tour took place in the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey in early March 1977. There are various dates named for his first gig: The 2nd, the 3rd or the 5th. Peter opened the show with “Here Comes the Flood” with just him on vocals and piano and Fripp’s guitar. It was a deliberate and interesting way not only to open the show, but also to present himself as a solo artist. Gone were the days of masks and costumes, here was a simple musician on the piano wearing jogging clothes. On the second song “On the Air”, the whole band set in and the groovy synths woke up the audiences and they went wild. “Moribund The Burgermeister”, which was seen by some as a throwback to Genesis, still sounded a bit stiff. “Solsbury Hill”, his first solo hit that had also introduced him to many American listeners, was also in the set. The songs were not as orchestral as on the album, but more aggressive.

Alongside the songs from Pete’s solo record there were some cover versions in the set. The inclusion of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” was a tribute to Gabriel’s love for soul music, and the Kinks cover “All Day (And All Of The Night)” sounded rather heavy. The almost complete American band was professional, had a lot of fun (you can hear that especially in the R&B cover) and there was a relaxed atmosphere between the musicians, something that a proper band sometimes lacks onstage. Peter seemed to enjoy it a lot.

The fans expected solo and Genesis material

On the encore, he returned with Rael’s leather jacket, jeans and T-Shirt and performed “Back In N.Y.C” from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway*. He knew that the audience expected solo and Genesis material. Throughout the set, some fans had even felt disappointment over the stark staging and that only solo songs were played. But the crowd exploded when Peter came out for the encore of “Back in N.Y.C”. It left them wanting more. And they got it. Peter Gabriel became a successful solo artist with a varied career and a distinctive identity. The fact that he once sang with Genesis only became a footnote when we look back on his career from today’s point of view.

Photo: Peter Gabriel, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway. Description=Peter Gabriel at Chateau Neuf in Oslo, Norway on August 31st 1978 |Source=http://www.helgeoveras.com/gabriel.shtml |Date=August 31st 1978 |Author=Helge Øverås (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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The “Turn It On Again” reunion tour

On 11 June 2007, Genesis started their “Turn It On Again” reunion tour in Helsinki. It saw the return of Phil Collins on vocals.

Genesis announced their reunion in 2006

On 7 November 2006, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins announced that they were reuniting as Genesis to play a series of shows in Europe in the summer of 2007 and in North America in autumn. Phil Collins had left Genesis in 1996. Although he had appeared with his former band members in the past, this was his official return. The reunion also included Genesis’ long-time live members Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar. Both had not played with the band since 1992.

The first proper gig was planned for 11 June 2007 in Helsinki. With no new album to promote, the band had enough time to go through their material and dust off the old songs. Having not played together for 15 years, rehearsals were a bit more difficult than they all had expected.

Rehearsals for the “Turn It On Again” tour

Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (guitars, bass) not only had to relearn the songs. They also had to change keys so that Phil Collins, whose voice had dropped over the years, could sing the songs.

He had some trouble relearning some of lyrics. But once he did, he struggled less with them than he had in the past. Songs like “Domino” and “Home By The Sea” with lyrics by Tony Banks were always a challenge for him to sing. (For example lines like “Sheets of double glazing” or “Nylon sheets and blankets”). He also listened to live recordings from the past and realized that he had often added some little extras. On this tour he went back to singing the songs the way they were written.

He also had not played Genesis songs on drums for years. On his solo tours, he had done the drum duet with Chester Thompson and played on “In The Air Tonight”. But now he had to get himself back in shape and play things like “Second Home By The Sea”. Luckily enough, Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer were there to back them up and help them out. Daryl had to show them how to play their own songs because he knew and had learned them so well.

But the five of them had played for so long that even after a break of 15 years, the chemistry was still there. Also, they got along much better than ever before. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford had become looser with age whereas Phil Collins had become a bit more serious. They could talk about things they never dared say to each other 15 years before.

The setlist

And what would Genesis play on this reunion tour? They had plenty of material to choose from. Of course, there some inevitable hits that the fans wanted to hear like “Follow You Follow Me”, “Invisible Touch”, “Mama” and “I Can’t Dance”.

They also played their hit “Land Of Confusion” a bit heavier than usual. It sounded more modern, which was a nod into the direction of the band Disturbed. They had done a metal cover version of the song.

A trip down memory lane on the Genesis reunion tour

Apart from the hits, they also played more ambitious songs from their later period like the already mentioned “Home By The Sea” and “Domino”, two of Tony Banks’s favourites. As opener, they decided to do the instrumental intro of “Behind The Lines” from “Duke“. They added a piece of “Duke’s End” and called it “Duke’s Intro”. It was a very strong and powerful opening for the reunion shows and would always make the crowd go wild.

Overall, Phil Collins played much more drums throughout the show than he had in the past. And for “I Know What I Like” he looked at the tambourine dance from 1976 and after a bit of training, was able to do it also on this tour.

Also, they dug out “Ripples” from “A Trick Of The Tail” (the first album with Phil Collins as lead vocalist from 1976), which they had not played for years. It was a real surprise in the setlist. The same goes for a bit of “Duke’s Travels” that was incorporated into a medley. The setlist was a great mixture of material from all of their history. They played songs from almost every album since 1973. The last song of the set was the “Lamb”-classic “Carpet Crawlers” from 1974. It was always a very emotional ending for the band and the audiences.

Behind the scenes

The stage set-up for the tour came from acclaimed stage designer Mark Fisher, the lighting design came from Patrick Woodroffe. Behind the band was a huge screen which created a different look and a different setting for each song.

Producer Nick Davis supervised the sound of the band. Also, the band decided to release sound board recordings of each show through an Encore Series.

The first concert in Helsinki

And finally the first gig was played in Helsinki on a warm summer night. The band played flawlessly, the screens showed the right visuals at the right time and the audiences were happy to see Genesis again.

Phil Collins later said that some people expected them to release a new album during this period. But for him, the tour was not only a Genesis reunion tour but also a Genesis farewell tour.

The tour went on until autumn 2007 when the band played North America. After that, it seemed that Genesis had closed the final chapter. When asked what they enjoyed most about the reunion tour, they all agreed that the greatest thing was to be back with old friends and laugh together.

Photo: Genesis, ofwel: Phil Collins, Michael Rutherford, Tony Banks, Chester Thompson en Daryl Stuermer.}} |Source=Maikel Koek, via Wikiportrait |Date= |Author=Maikel Koek |Permission={{Wikiportrait|2008041010026495}} (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

The last show of “The Lamb” tour

On 22 May 1975, Genesis played the last show of their ambitious “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” tour. It was also their last gig with Peter Gabriel as lead singer.

“The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”

In 1974, Genesis went into the studio to record the album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway*”. It was a double concept album, based on a complex story by lead singer Peter Gabriel about a Puerto Rican boy named Rael. Rael lives in New York City and is sucked into a netherworld, where he encounters strange characters on his adventures.

The story and the American setting were a break from their earlier tales of British myth and fantasy. Previous to the album, the band had toured North America and were trying to become successful in the United States. It was also (after the failed attempt on their first record) their first real “concept album”, a trademark for many progressive rock bands.

There were tensions going on inside the band, when they wrote the ambitious album. Peter Gabriel wrote the lyrics and the story separately, while his bandmates wrote all the music. Only the lyrics for one song, “The Light Dies Down On Broadway”, were written not by Gabriel, but by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. Most of the music came from jam sessions by the trio Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass and guitars) and Phil Collins (drums). Lead guitarist Steve Hackett did not contribute much to the music.

Tensions within the group

There were two main reasons for the split between Gabriel and the rest of the band that overshadowed the making of the album: For one, William Friedkin, director of “The Exorcist*” was interested in working together with Peter Gabriel on a film script. Peter Gabriel was interested and even thought about leaving the band for this project, but Friedkin backed away when he realized that.

The other reason was that Peter’s wife Jill was pregnant with their first child Anna. She was was born in July ’74 and there were some complications in the aftermath. Gabriel started to alienate from the band during that time. He was the first one to have a child and see that there were other opportunities and possibilites in life besides being in a rock band. His inner conflict is also reflected in the story of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, for example in the lyrics of “In The Cage”: “Get me out of this cage!”

Up to this day, the album divides fans and critics. Upon its release, “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” received decidedly mixed reviews and was a commercial failure. Ticket sales did not go as well as planned and they had to cancel several shows. Nowadays it is looked upon in a hazy retrospective because it is Gabriel’s last work with the group.

The “Lamb” tour

Peter Gabriel was frustrated by the failure in terms of success and sales, especially because it was his story. For the tour, the band decided to play the entire album live, often to an audience who had never heard it because the tour began before the album was released.

Having become famous for his use of masks and costumes, Peter Gabriel wanted to use visual aspects to underline the story of the album. This time he overused them. Again, he wore costumes, the most famous being the “Slippermen” outfit, which covered him from head to toe and did not allow him to get the microphone close enough to his mouth, so his vocals could not be heard clearly. The band did not like this exaggeration and felt that the costumes and the performance had become the focus of the show to the disadvantage of the music.

The spectacular stage show also brought along some problems. There were slides at the back of the stage and they never were in the right order or stopped and did not move on. One night, a dummy of Peter Gabriel, which used to mirror him during one of the songs, was replaced by a naked roadie. And once when there had to be a small explosion for one song, the production manager caused a big explosion, so loud that the band stopped playing in the middle of the song. He poked his head round the curtain and said “Sorry!” to which Phil Collins shouted back: “You’re fired!”

Peter Gabriel decides to leave Genesis

During the course of the tour, Peter Gabriel decided to leave. It was no surprise to manager Tony Smith and the rest of the band. Smith only wanted Gabriel to finish the tour and announce the news afterwards.

Peter Gabriel played his last gig with Genesis at St Etienne in France in May 1975. It was a strange last gig, because St Etienne was meant to be the penultimate date of the tour, but the final date was cancelled just the day before. And so, Gabriel’s time with Genesis was over. He had founded the band in 1967 with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford. When it was announced publicly, the fans were greatly shocked. Many doubted if Genesis could survive without him but we know they did and so did he.

Photo: Peter Gabriel in 1975. Photographer unknown. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Peter_Gabriel,_April_1975.jpg. Unknown author / CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Ray Wilson announced as new lead vocalist

On 6 June 1997, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis announce the band’s new lead singer after Phil Collins’ departure: 28 year old Ray Wilson.

When it was announced in March of 1996 that Phil Collins would leave Genesis after 25 years, the public was impatient to know who would become the next lead singer of the band. Genesis had survived the loss of their first singer Peter Gabriel in 1975. And when Phil Collins left the band in 1996, the two remaining members Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (guitars) decided to survive a singer’s loss once more. The two founding members of Genesis started to write and record new songs and tried to find a new singer. Music media suggested several vocalists, until on June 6th 1997, the band announced that Ray Wilson would be their new lead singer.

Ray Wilson

Ray was born in Dumfries, Scotland, on 8 September 1968. He had previously been in a band called Guaranteed Pure and was a frontman for the band Stiltskin. Their biggest hit was the song “Inside”, used in a Levi’s commercial in 1994. The song had reached No. 1 of the charts. So Ray was not an unknown singer when he joined Genesis, but theirs and Stiltskin’s music was worlds apart. So his fans and Genesis fans were both surprised and suspicious.

Ray remembers on the Songbook DVD: “I was in my little studio writing songs. It was ten in the morning, I was making a coffee, and Tony Smith, the manager of Genesis, was on the phone: “Would you like to come and audition to replace Phil Collins?””

In the last years, Phil Collins’ solo success had created an image of “Phil Collins and Genesis”, as if Genesis was the band behind him. Filling out this role and changing this public image, would be very difficult.

Calling All Stations

Ray, Mike and Tony went into the band’s studio “The Farm” in Surrey and recorded the new album “Calling All Stations“*. Most of the songs were already written by Tony and Mike, but Ray was able to add some of his ideas. The album was very dark and melancholic. Phil Collins’ influence on Genesis music, his energy and cheerfulness combined with Mike’s and Tony’s music, was missing. The Genesis chemistry only worked fully when all three of them worked and wrote together.

Ray’s expressive voice worked with the melodramatic music. He did a remarkable job on the album and the following tour. His voice and style was a bit closer to Peter Gabriel’s, but the music on “Calling All Stations” seemed to be closer to its predecessor “We Can’t Dance“. Like “We Can’t Dance”, “Calling All Stations” was produced by Nick Davis.

Three singles were released from the sombre, dark record: “Congo”, “Shipwrecked” and “Not About Us”. Ray co-wrote the last song as well as the songs “Small Talk” and “There Must Be Some Other Way”. The drums on the album were played by Israeli session drummer Nir Zidkyahu and Nick D’Virgilio from American prog band Spock’s Beard.

The critics were not too kind. NMW wrote that “the world doesn’t care enough about Genesis to make the effort” to buy the album and “like the rest of the population, they’ve forgotten why they were once any good”. Q wrote that the album consists of “just darkness, confusion, individual isolation” and described it as “one-paced and one-dimensional.”

Live on tour 1998

On tour, Ray proved that he could sing songs from all the eras. The setlist covered hits like “Invisible Touch”, “No Son Of Mine” or “Follow You Follow Me” (in a lovely acoustic version), younger epics like “Home By The Sea” and Gabriel-era songs like “Carpet Crawlers” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. The new material worked well between these songs and some tracks, like the title track, were even better live. Ray, Mike and Tony were accompanied by drummer Nir Zidkyahu and guitarist Anthony Drennan, who filled the roles of Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer.

The album was not as successful as the ones before

But unfortunately the album was not a big commercial success when compared to the albums before. It reached no. 2 in British charts, but only no. 54 in America. Also, ticket sales were not as high was they used to be and the tour had to be minimized in terms of production and venues. The American leg of the tour had to be cancelled completely. So after the 1998 tour, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to put Genesis to rest.

It was not to be the end of Genesis. But back in 1998 it looked like it. Unfortunately, Ray Wilson, who had been thrown into this situation, was even made responsible by some fans and critics. This is simply not fair. Ray has a unique voice and delivered the songs – his own and Peter’s and Phil’s – in a special way.

After the end of Genesis, Ray took some time to recover and has since started a solo career. He releases solo albums and still plays some Genesis and Genesis-related songs during his live shows.

Title photo: Ray Wilson live in Dortmund in 2017 (Photo: André Wilms of “The Photography Of Mister Ilms)“.

“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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Genesis induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010

On 15 March 2010, Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett were present alongside live members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer. Peter Gabriel did not attend the event. The band was inducted by Phish frontman Trey Anastasio.

Live on the 29th of July, 1992. Kiel, Germany.

Phil Collins had damaged his health on the “Turn It On Again” tour

By the time Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they had been in a hiatus for three years. Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, along with Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson, had last been on tour in 2007. The “Turn It On Again” tour had been hugely successful. It was great, no matter if it were the starting point for something new, or if it was a farewell tour.

On this tour, however, Phil Collins had damaged his health. When playing drums, he felt a numbness in his left arm and his fingers. It turned out that he had damaged the nerves in his neck and his back. Years of drumming had taken its toll. With Phil Collins being unable to play the drums, further Genesis live gigs seemed very unlikely.

The Way We Walk: The Shorts (Cover) – from left to right: Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins

Would Peter Gabriel join his old bandmates for the induction?

But when it was announced that Genesis would finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, rumours started to spread again. Would they all attend? Would Peter Gabriel also join his former bandmates? And would they perform together?

The answer was: no. Peter Gabriel was in preparation for a tour and decided not to take part in the ceremony. Also, he had cut most of his ties with Genesis over the years. He had left the group in 1975 when he was 25 and had started a tremendously successful solo career. Going back to Genesis was not something he wanted. So to stop all the rumours right away, he did not attend the ceremony. But the other four ‘classic’ members Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett did. They were joined by their families and long-time live members Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. The induction speech was held by Trey Anastastio of Phish.

Genesis live, July 29th, 1992 Kiel, Germany. The Nordmarksportfeld.

Phish performed two Genesis songs

Phish also performed two Genesis songs: “Watcher Of The Skies” and “No Reply At All”. One song from each era, but two very odd choices. It was interesting to observe that they struggled much more with the “pop” song “No Reply At All”.

But Trey Anastasio gave a wonderful speech. Being a musician who is also into complex music, he knew what he was talking about. So instead of focussing on the obvious stories and tales, he gave a brief insight into the art behind the albums Trespass*, Selling England By the Pound* and Duke. It was a fitting speech for this evening. Genesis were not inducted because they were superstars, but because they were great musicians and performers.

Phish frontman Trey Anastasio held a wonderful induction speech

The four ‘classic’ members went onstage and Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett said some nice words (Steve’s speech was a bit embarrasing, to be honest) and Mike mentioned that Peter was in preparation for his orchestra tour.

Phil Collins later admitted that he was happy that Peter had not been there, because there would have been questions about a big reunion. Being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seemed like a cherry on the cake in Genesis’ career. Although it was just a festive occasion, this was to be the last time that Genesis appeared together in public for some years. It was also the last time Chester Thompson appeared with them. Neither the band nor the fans knew at that point.

Trey Anastasio celebrated Genesis in his speech as “rebellious, restless and constantly striving for something more.” This sums up their career perfectly.

Title photo: Genesis on stage during the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour, 1974-75. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Nick Contador/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

First photo: Genesis live, July 29th, 1992 Kiel, Germany. The Nordmarksportfeld. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Derzsi Elekes Andor/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Second Photo: The Way We Walk – The Shorts (Cover).

Third photo: Genesis live, July 29th, 1992 Kiel, Germany. The Nordmarksportfeld. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Derzsi Elekes Andor/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Fourth photo: Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson and Mike Rutherford, Liverpool Empire, Duke Tour 1980. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rodhullandemu/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Fourth photo: Genesis, Phil Collins, Strasbourg, October 1981. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Philippe Roos from Strasbourg/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).