Date: November 18th, 2021
When I watched Phil Collins perform a few years ago, I was concerned somewhat for the singer’s voice and his energy. Thus I was a bit tenuous when it was announced that Collins would rejoin Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks for a rejuvenated Genesis this fall. As it turned out, I need not have worried.
At the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C., a few days ago, the scene was set from moment one as a rather exuberant light show played out upon the stage. The band gamely rocked their way through the instrumentals “Behind the Lines” and “Duke’s End.” Collins came to center stage and sat as if holding court. There he remained for the rest of the show, not as mobile as he once was, but nonetheless thoroughly in control of his voice and holding the naysayers at bay.
Thus to “Turn It On Again,” what with its familiar keyboard intro, and Collins joining in on the vocal line that he championed when the song was released 41 years ago. “Mama” was next, before the proceedings truly kicked into high gear with “Land of Confusion.” Granted, the song was taken down a few steps in key below the studio version, but Collins and Co. had energy to spare, with the audience filling in on the chorus’s “oh-oh-oh” while lifting their hands along.
After “Home by the Sea” and “Second Home by the Sea,” the band played a mini-set of a few more high-octane tunes before adding an acoustic set. It was an inspired choice, and the band trotted out well-known Genesis songs “That’s All” and “Follow You Follow Me,” showcasing that they can still put a new spin on old faves.
From there it was all electric, with standouts such as “No Son of Mine,” “Throwing It All Away” and “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.” The seminal “Invisible Touch” was full-throttle, with Collins’s voice truly filling up the hall.
The audience positively demanded an encore, which could only commence with “I Can’t Dance.” It was a fun double meaning given that Collins, decades after recording the song, is now chair-bound on stage. It sounded great from my seat near the floor, and was the highlight of the encore. With a bridge from “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight,” the evening’s closer was “The Carpet Crawlers,” which is a grand song in and of itself, but a bit of a headscratcher as “Paperlate” or “Abacab” would have made for a much more upbeat swan song.
However, it was a splendid evening, and Collins was in fine vocal form, and his fellow troubadours brought their all for the indoor crowd at Capital One Arena, who were “celebrating” the last weekend of D.C.’s indoor mask mandate.
Live music still looks different than it used to, but at least it’s back with us.