I went to see Genesis on stage at the HP Pavillion in San Jose last night.

It felt good to see the boys on stage again after such a long time. Admittedly, they haven’t released any album since “I can’t dance” (and they obviously didn’t play any “Calling all stations” songs last night), but watching them on stage is always a pleasure, and they didn’t disappoint last night.

Tony Banks was his usual impassible (I’m not sure he even looked up from his keyboards once), and Rutherford/Thompson/Stuermer seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit. As for Phil Collins, despite a few more wrinkles and a few extra pounds, his energy on stage and incomparable showmanship are as great as ever (and he looks downright scary with his sardonic smile during “Mama”). He played with the audience quite a bit and we repaid him in kind.

The set list was their usual mix of old and new songs, and while they did use some of their standard entertaining stunts (like playing the Domino effect with the crowd or the little story introducing “Home by the Sea”), Phil did come up with a few new tricks (which I won’t disclose) that got the entire audience to stand up and laugh with him. They also managed to add a few new orchestrations and medley mixes, starting with the very opening, which was an interesting blend of “Behind the Lines” merging seamlessly into “Duke’s End” (albeit without Duke’s vocals at the end, which I missed). A great way to start the show.

Here are some of the songs they played last night in no particular order: The Cage, Follow you follow me (uncommon), Domino, Invisible Touch, Land of Confusion, Hold on my heart (no “Fading lights” unfortunately), the old song medley (I know what I like, Firth of Fifth, some Slipperman and Lamb excerpts), etc…

The encore started with the standard “I can’t dance” (this song still makes we wince, for some reason. Maybe it’s the music or the awkward dancing which they never bothered rehearsing… come on guys, we don’t expect you to break in West Side Story style synchronized dancing at the first riffs, but is it too much to ask to rehearse three-four minutes worth of decent steps?). The final song of the concert was… The Carpet Crawlers! Now that was a shock, and quite a treat for all the oldies like myself in the audience.

Another point worth mentioning is that they introduced Los Endos with the usual drum battle between Thompson and Collins, except that they mixed it up a bit. Instead of both starting sitting behind their drumkit, they started drumming on some sort of large cushion seat, face to face (hard to tell if it’s really a seat or an elaborate drum instrument). They displayed their usual mastery, exchanging rhymes and breaks and banging their sticks in sync, and after a few minutes of that regime, progressively transitioned to their respective drumkits where the mounting introduction to Los Endos could progress to its apex. I’ve seen their act dozens of times, but this one entertained more than any other, and Thompson and Collins definitely show an unparalleled amount of chemistry in these exercises.

Disappointment of the show: Daryl Stuermer’s guitar solo on Firth of Fifth. I’m not one to say that I miss Steve Hackett since he left the band so long ago, but for some reason, I really didn’t like the way Daryl played this piece last night. Maybe it was his style or his personal touches to this fantastic piece of music, but I was cringing throughout the entire section (admittedly, I started playing the guitar myself a few months ago, which is probably why I feel qualified to be nasty on Daryl :-)).

Highlight of the show: closing off the concert on “The Carpet Crawlers”.

In conclusion, a fantastic performance which makes me hope the boys will get back to cranking out new music for us soon.