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RATING: (***) THREE OUT OF FOUR
“It’s been a strange couple of years,” said Genesis frontman Phil Collins in the understatement of the night on Thursday as the British rock vets brought The Last Domino? Tour — their first trek in 14 years — to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena for the first of two shows.
Collins, now 70, walking with a cane and forced to perform seated in a swivelling office chair (and not behind the drum kit where his 20-year-old son Nic has so ably taken over since Collins’ last solo tour in 2018) was likely speaking of his physically diminished presence after nerve damage, surgery and a fall did their very worst to him in the last decade.
However, the way he also enunciated certain lyrics of Invisible Touch later in the two-hour-and-25-minute show, he could also be talking about the acrimonious second split from his third wife (and Nic’s mom) who he had to get evicted from his $40-million Miami home with her new husband in the last year.
“And though she will f*** up your life, you’ll want her just the same,” he practically spat out during that song highlight.
Yes, even if Collins can’t move much, his acting background comes in handy, whether he was growling into the microphone during Mama — “Ha! Ha! HA!” — or gleefully convincing he crowd to “get in touch with the other side,” by raising and shaking their hands before Home By The Sea, a song about a haunted house.
If you recall, Collins, a real trooper given his current state, was always the physical and emotive guy opposite static if accomplished performers bassist-guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks, both 71, and longtime touring guitarist-bassist Daryl Stuermer.
So now what?
Well, the people who designed the lights, graphics and backdrops of The Last Domino? tour clearly knew some distractions were in order so they went all out with a gobsmackingly good-looking production that includes a spaceship-like lighting rig and eyeball-grabbing graphics like an army of bowler-wearing businessmen or falling toilet paper during Land of Confusion or spiralling dominos during Domino.
Collins, whose more limited vocal range these days is helped by two strong backup singers, Daniel Pearce and Patrick Smyth, also proved to be a talker between songs, cracking a blue joke at the expense of son Nic, who he called “the wonder boy,” joking later: “Don’t tell your mother I said that.”
The set list consisted of both commercially popular ‘80s-‘90s Collins-led songs like Turn It On Again, No Son Of Mine, Throwing It All Away (with various Genesis band lineups shown off in the background), Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, and I Can’t Dance along with a tip of the hat to original singer Peter Gabriel in older prog-rock tunes like Firth of Fifth, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (with Collins briefly on tambourine), Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, and the show-ending The Carpet Crawlers.
There was also a mini-acoustic set, which Collins likened to the theatrical term of “a redress of the set,” consisting of That’s All, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, and Follow You, Follow Me.
But will this be Genesis’ final road trip after Collins commented in an earlier interview it would likely be for him?
You definitely get the feeling this is a goodbye on this side of the pond, even though Rutherford said they would be doing an European tour next year.
We shall see.