Phil Collins - vocals, drums
Tony Banks - keyboards
Mike Rutherford - guitar, bass
Chester Thompson - drums
Daryl Stuermer - guitar, bass
Genesis had just released what was to become their best selling album, Invisible Touch, a few months prior to this concert. Having moved into a more pop-oriented direction in the early '80s, Genesis was now attracting even more new fans, particularly MTV viewers who enjoyed their sometimes silly, sometimes inventive videos. At the same time, they held onto a loyal fan base that stretched back to their days as an art rock band.
Riding this momentum, Genesis played five consecutive nights at the L.A. Forum in October of 1986. This excellent recording was made on Wednesday, the third night of the run. There's a little tension early in the show when lead singer Phil Collins tells the crowd they'll be playing some new songs. Some members of the audience boo, though some applaud. Phil then says they may play a few old tunes as well, and the audience roars. This little dialogue tellingly reflects the conflict between the fans of the new pop sound, and those who preferred the older, more progressive rock sound. Both fan groups were there in full force at this show, though the pop audience was certainly beginning to gain ground.
The band had an incredibly complex, colorful, and dynamic light show, featuring the most Vari-lites ever used in a lighting rig. Vari-lites are small lights that can change direction and color very quickly, and Genesis was the first band to use them in 1981. As always, Genesis had a pristine sound, even in a cavern like the L.A. Forum. As for the performance, Phil Collins' voice is in fine, powerful form. The band executes the songs proficiently and tightly, though keyboardist Tony Banks makes gaffes here and there.
Listen to this show for a great jam on the song "Abacab," some interesting improv on the instrumental "The Brazilian" and a fantastic drum duet that sends the crowd into hysterics. "Throwing It All Away," a hit at the time of the concert, features a call-and-response bit from Phil that gets the audience singing. 1978's "Follow You Follow Me" receives perhaps the warmest reception of the evening.
A highlight for older fans is a long medley of three tried-and-true tunes near the end of the set. One of these, a part of 1972's "Supper's Ready" is considered by many fans to be one of their very best numbers. It was quite a shock when the band broke into this song. Listen carefully and you can hear quite a few audience members losing their shit when they realize it is actually being played!
Perhaps on purpose, the band follows this old chestnut by immediately launching into their big hit, "Invisible Touch." For better or worse, it was a really stark contrast. New fans went nuts while older fans shivered. At this point in the show, normally tight security let the people on the floor leave their chairs to jam up against the stage. For the remainder of the night, the area up in front was a pretty wild party, particularly during the encore of the "Turn It On Again Medley."
This is a show that captures Genesis at the peak of their popularity - at a time when they (and former member Peter Gabriel) were all over the media. It's a concert with sugary pop and catchy dance tunes, but one that also features, at the same time, superb musicianship and extended instrumental jamming. After this, the band would only record one more album before Phil Collins left the group for a solo career.