They’ve been rocking in one sense or another for over five decades. But all good things come to an end.
Genesis gave their final performance over the weekend, with singer Phil Collins and co bidding a fond farewell to the crowd at London’s 02. Collins joked: “after tonight, we’ve all got to get real jobs.”
The last show for Phil Collins and Genesis
Comprising 23 tracks, the live set featured Collins, guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboard player Tony Banks. For health reasons, Collins was seated throughout. Son Nic Collins took over his traditional role on the drums.
The band, backed by other musicians, concluded “The Last Domino?” tour in roof-raising fashion. It’s been on hold since Covid disrupted things in 2021. Still, the group haven’t reunited onstage since 2007, so waiting a tad longer probably didn’t hurt.
The genesis of Genesis
Formed in 1967 at the English public school Charterhouse, the original lineup was Banks, Rutherford, Chris Stewart, Anthony Phillips and Peter Gabriel. Phil Collins joined as drummer and backing vocalist in 1970. Stewart and Phillips left and Steve Hackett signed up as guitarist the same year.
Chart success was far from immediate. They released several albums initially but nothing that truly captured the public’s imagination. The fourth record, Foxtrot (1972), nearly reached the Top 10. From follow up Genesis Live (1973) onwards, things started to take shape commercially. 1974’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway marked Peter Gabriel’s last recording with the band. Collins took over afterward.
When Collins started having solo success as a singer/songwriter, it helped the band’s profile to no end. With Rutherford and Banks (Hackett moved on in 1977), he released the band’s biggest hits. Their self-titled album from 1983 featured the track “Mama,” Genesis’ highest-charting single. 1986’s Invisible Touch gave fans “In Too Deep,” “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” and “Land of Confusion.”
Peter Gabriel and musical shift
Going into the 1980s, Genesis were more identified with power pop than their prog rock beginnings. Peter Gabriel brought a theatrical dimension to the band’s performances, something Collins didn’t seem keen to emulate.
Interviewed by The Guardian about his approach, he recalls saying: “Look, I can sing the songs, but anything else will be a bit of a question mark.” That said, Collins’ background as an actor meant he could portray characters such as the oily evangelist in the video for “Jesus He Knows Me” (1991).
Speaking about this musical shift in the same piece, Banks stated that Genesis were “lucky to be the last ones left standing” from prog-heavy contemporaries.
Change in line-up and the end of the road
Phil Collins decided to leave Genesis to focus on solo work in 1996. Ray Wilson was hired as a replacement for the 1997 album Calling All Stations. By 2000 Rutherford and Banks wanted to call it a day. Genesis, including Collins, reunited for anniversary events and special occasions, where sometimes they would perform.
As well as his own solo projects, Tony Banks has been writing film scores since the late 1970s. He and Rutherford did the music for the horror movie The Shout. Banks worked on soundtracks for The Wicked Lady (1983) and Quicksilver with Kevin Bacon in 1986. He also composed music for the movie 2010 but this was rejected. Rutherford formed Mike and the Mechanics in 1985. Their track “The Living Years” (1988) won an Ivor Novello award.
2011 saw Collins step back from music. This was reportedly to look after his family and also due to damaging his hands after dislocating neck vertebrae in 2007. Back surgery led to him using a cane to walk from 2015. Unable to play the drums, it seemed unlikely Genesis would get back together. The Daily Mail writes the group had “been in two minds about reuniting due to Phil’s medical issues.”
Peter Gabriel attended the last concert. He didn’t take part but was acknowledged by Collins and posed for photos. With 100 million plus records sold, six chart-topping albums and 21 UK Top 40 Singles, Genesis leave a legacy to be proud of. They certainly didn’t throw it all away.
From tonight’s final #Genesis show in London (from left): #PeterGabriel, #PhilCollins, and Richard McPhail (long time friend and tour manager in the ‘70s). If you’ve not read Richard’s book on Genesis, you should. @genesis_band @itspetergabriel @PhilCollinsFeed pic.twitter.com/Zsmo0WMGr1
— World of Genesis (@WorldofGenesis) March 27, 2022