Genesis Records Exodus And Resurrection(?) In Two Career-Capping Concert Documentaries.
DVD STREET DATES: November 2nd, 2021/KINO LORBER
Two later career concert documentaries from international supergroup Genesis receive separate DVD releases this November by Kino Lorber.
The first, Genesis When In Rome 2007, records a performance from the band’s last concert tour and the second, Genesis The Last Domino?, shows the band reuniting a decade-and-a-half later to rehearse and prepare a final-question mark tour delayed by the COVID pandemic. Together, both offer a retrospective of the band’s vast back-catalogue of hits and an audio-visual summation of the band’s complex fifty-year history.
Core members Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Phil Collins have remained the performing and creative forces of the band for the greater majority of that half-century, and this pair of concert films certainly reflects favorably on the band’s 1980’s heyday, when the group dominated the omnipresent sound-crackle of antenna-receiving airwaves (Top 40 Hit radio stations), the subterranean electrical impulses of cable-broadcasting (MTV), and the earth-thumping laser-light shows emanating from just about every major city in the world’s concert arena and/or amphitheatre. Through the years, the individual members of Genesis may have gone their separate ways professionally and creatively, particularly after first disbanding back in 1996, but these post-millennium show-films betray little power lost in either their performing or impact, despite the passing of time or their adjustment(s) to it.
GENESIS WHEN IN ROME 2007
DIRECTED BY DAVID MALLET/2007
This 92-minute concert-recording presents from beginning, middle, to end the uninterrupted, 14-track performance of the title live show, in its title location, in the final leg of what was (then) to be the band’s last tour. Headlined by keyboardist Banks, drummer/vocalist Collins, and bass-and-guitarist Rutherford, supported by Daryl Stuermer on bass and guitar and Chester Thompson on drums, the backdrop of this outdoor concert extravaganza is the band’s multi-media light-and-image screen towering to the night sky; ending, of course, with an inevitable but still welcome fireworks display. Front-and back-loaded with the band’s most recognizable songs, the likes of “No Son Of Mine” and “Mama” giving way to lengthy medleys of “In The Cage” and “The Cinema Show”, before ending with the literally show-stopping “Invisible Touch”, When In Rome on a much less high-end but no less entertaining note features Genesis frontman Phil Collins mangling a foreign language throughout by reading Italian translations of these familiar hits from the single-side of a cue-sheet.
Cutaways to exultant fans mouthing along to the lyrics and crane-shots swooping down on the thousands-strong crowd are de rigueur for these large concert film affairs, but director Mallet and his team of camera operators manage to skillfully capture the scope, scale, and even intimacy of this live show, serving as a worthy record of the band, tour, and performance. When In Rome functions best as a filmed record of Genesis performing at their height, and even if the film as a film has little to distinguish itself from other like concert documentaries, this particular presentation, along with its professional packaging, has the added advantage of recording an important performance at a historically important moment for the band. As such, those interested in viewing definitive performances of their favorite songs at their performers’ peak will find those previous points eminently satisfied by Genesis When In Rome 2007.
GENESIS THE LAST DOMINO?
DIRECTED BY JAMES TONKIN/2021
Despite running a full half-hour shorter, much more interesting as both a film and a record of the artistic process behind a live performance is the recent documentary Genesis The Last Domino? The question mark serves as an appropriate open-end to a concert relegated throughout its hour-long running-time to the merely hypothetical, the onset of the COVID pandemic unfortunately coinciding with the tour’s originally proposed launch in February of 2020. Instead, Rutherford, Collins, and Banks, joined again by Daryl Stuermer and joined this time by Phil Collins’ drummer son Nic Collins, use that time to refine and rehearse that future concert to the changed conditions of the world, and particularly those changes’ impact on individual members of the band.
Foremost among these necessary adjustments is the deteriorating condition of Genesis frontman Phil Collins. Previously seen in When In Rome as a still-spry 55-year-old convincingly recreating his famed tambourine-jumping, vaudeville-like stage-act of thirty years before, a subsequent decade-and-a-half litany of compounding physical and medical woes has since reduced this once-vital performer, now nearing 70, to performing purely vocally while seated. But among any great performer’s arsenal of talents, the voice is last to go, and as the title of both Collins’ recent 2016 autobiography and his 2017-19 solo concert tour would remind us, Phil Collins is Not Dead Yet, and Genesis itself still has the artistic and performative legs that its frontman may now need a cane to stand up on.
Therefore, what’s most intriguing about The Last Domino? is how it allows viewers a backstage look at the working method between Collins, Rutherford, and Banks. Not only how they come up with a transition between “Throwing It All Away” and “Turn It On Again”, say, but also how they are able to imbue – and visually foreground – new significance in richly suggestive songs such as “Land Of Confusion” and the lengthy title tune, “Domino”. Lines of masked and marching British salary-men or column-like buildings tumbling against the title track, viewed against familiar lyrics like “This is the world we live in” and “Could it be that we shall be together again?”, remain relevant past their original Cold War-era context when set to images of emptied streets and visual cascades of falling loo-rolls. Despite his infirmities, The Last Domino? shows Phil Collins vocally if not physically rising to these new challenges, and as long-time Genesis producer Tony Smith puts it, in one of many of the candid interviews interweaved throughout, the band as still tight-knit group strongly addresses their “unfinished business” both in terms of their half-century careers together and the many changes the world and their audience has seen in that interim.
Kino Lorber’s DVD presentations have nothing in the way of special features beyond the home video view of Genesis on one’s home viewing equipment of choice. This home viewer watched When In Rome and The Last Domino? on his Samsung multi-region Blu-ray player, played on a mid-size TV screen, and felt the performances, audio, and visual qualities served their purpose to adequate advantage. By this point, the songs have all been written, and past performances recorded, viewed, and re-viewed for posterity’s sake, but Genesis like any beloved band will always remain alive past any “farewell tour” or “one last go” for their fans.
And, damn it all, Phil’s nothing if not the eternal scrapper. I wouldn’t count him, the band, or any of the rest of us out just yet:
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in.
Images used in the review are used only as a visual reference and are not meant to reflect the DVDs.