Genesis does everything right but nothing surprising


Washington -- If the larger part of superstardom is the ability to deliver the goods completely and consistently over a long period of time, it's no wonder Genesis has become so hugely popular. It isn't just that the band plays well, or writes memorably melodic pop songs, or even that it puts on an entertaining concert -- it's all of those things.

And in many respects, last night's performance at Washington's RFK Stadium was merely one more link in that tradition of consistency. From the low-key dazzle of the group's high-tech stage to the hit-studded set list, the show was everything a Genesis fan could have wanted.

So how come I walked away wanting more?

It wasn't as if there was anything lacking in the musicianship. In fact, apart from a few wobbly notes in "Driving the Last Spike," there was little evidence of the throat ailment that caused singer Phil Collins to call an early end to a show in Tampa, Fla., two nights before. If anything, his voice seemed to get stronger as the show progressed, adding a bluesy edge to "I Can't Dance" and soaring exuberantly through "Invisible Touch."

But if the performance had few flaws, it also lacked much in the way of highlights. Sure, there were bits in which individual members burned brightly -- Mike Rutherford's searing guitar intro to "Dreaming While You Sleep" was one -- but those were isolated moments, not threads in a larger fabric.

And as the show ambled on, that numbing stolidity grew ever more annoying, particularly given the fact that Genesis is easily capable of much more. Certainly, not every song needs to be a testament to the band's instrumental virtuosity; for example, the quiet tension maintained through "Hold On My Heart" was admirable in its restraint.

But it would have been nice if the panoramic pop of numbers like "Domino" or "Home By the Sea" delivered the sort of performances in which the intensity of the music matched its length.

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