Genesis – Live Review – First Direct Arena, Leeds
By Alex Hoggard, September 2021
Having been twice postponed because of the pandemic, Genesis finally took to the stage at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, the first of a two night stint at the venue. Originally announced in December 2019, The Last Domino? Tour sees the trio of Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford reunited for the first time since 2007.
A series of well-documented health issues means Collins now performs seated, though that does not prevent him from holding court and giving a stellar performance. His vocals are complemented by backing singers Patrick Smyth and Daniel Pearce, who also lends a hand with percussion. While the frontman’s son Nic takes over on the drums with long-time touring member Daryl Stuermer returning on guitar.
Such was the anticipation of the capacity crowd, just the sight of the band taking to the stage resulted in a standing ovation, the first of many throughout the evening. The band showcased a range of hits from their back catalogue, spanning from 1973’s Selling England by the Pound to 1991’s We Can’t Dance, ensuring fans of both the Gabriel-era and Collins-era were left pleased.
Opening with an instrumental medley of ‘Behind the Lines’ and ‘Duke’s End’ the band then dove straight into ‘Turn It On Again’, with Collins immediately proving he still sounds powerful behind the microphone.
Third song ‘Mama’ saw the stage lit in red, with smoke machines billowing to add to the eerie lyrics with the frontman cackling through the breakdown section. Following which, Collins greeted the audience and praised the venue, “nice place you’ve got here!” and even treated them to his best Yorkshire accent, “’Ey up!”.
Clearly in a jovial mood, after hearing several declarations of love for him from the crowd he joked, “Let’s get this out of the way early – who loves who?!” He then introduced ‘Land of Confusion’ as a song that was “written a long time ago, but could be used to describe events of today” with Collins also adding “we’ve made some visuals to illustrate that”. The song is played before a video screen backdrop of the empty lockdown streets of London where television sets then toilet rolls rain from the sky, before the streets are filled with marching, mask-wearing men. The video just one component of an outstanding stage production, with the lighting director kept busy throughout the night.
An acoustic portion of the show saw Banks and Rutherford swap sides of the stage to which Collins, again proving he was in fine form, joked with the audience “and I know my place!”. Then band then performed stunning, stripped-down versions of ‘That’s All’, ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ and ‘Follow You Follow Me’.
An always-popular ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ saw Collins theatrically bash a tambourine with his fist, elbow and head during the instrumental section. Then, prior to playing ‘Domino’, the frontman explained the domino principle and made sure to get every section of the arena involved in the explanation.
Collins again brought the jokes out when introducing his bandmates, which even gained a wry smile from the often-inscrutable Banks.
The first set was brought to a close with the pop classic ‘Invisible Touch’, which again brought the audience to their feet and further increased the noise in the venue.
Returning to the stage after the encore break with the screens showing the silhouetted figures of the band members performing their famous ‘I Can’t Dance dance’, they played the 1991 hit to much adoration from the crowd.
After being on stage for the best part of two and a half hours, 1975 prog classic ‘The Carpet Crawlers’ brought the show to a gentle close before the audience showed their appreciation for an excellent evening with a long, rapturous standing ovation. If this does prove to be their final tour, they are determined to go out on a high.