When In Rome (DVD)


Atlantic, 2008


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Genesis live has always been a dicey proposition on record. One can argue that Live, Seconds Out, Three Sides Live and the tracks from both archive box sets have their merits; one may also be a fan of both The Way We Walk sets. But one also can argue that the music on those, while good, is essentially a rehash of the studio version of the song, a louder version with Chester Thompson on drums (usually) instead of Phil Collins.

This is by design. Genesis was a band of songwriters, first and foremost, and they never tried to stray too far from the original composition. But such an approach renders a live album relatively pointless, and on the above live discs only a handful of the songs go above and beyond the original, whether through musical changes or crowd energy.

So When In Rome is already at a disadvantage. The second strike is the fact that this is a reunion show. The Genesis trio that made all the hit singles from 1978-1993 reunited in 2007 for a tour, playing all the old hits, making wads of cash, and calling it a day. It’s a bit cynical, but I suppose with the economy it was smart to get some sort of retirement account established. The band knows what the fans want, and they deliver the exact same thing they have been doing since Peter Gabriel left the band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As such, not only is the track list pretty predictable, but the arrangements of the songs are too. Collins does his tambourine-body-beating thing on “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe).” The band mock dances to “I Can’t Dance.” The “In The Cage” medley segues into “The Cinema Show” and “Afterglow,” just like on Three Sides Live. There is a long drum duet before “Los Endos,” just as there is a version of “Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea,” “Follow You Follow Me,” “Turn It On Again” and “Mama.” In fact, nearly all of The Way We Walk, Vol. 1 is here. About the only surprise is a live version of “Ripples.”

To account for the band’s age and Collins’ singing ability, many of the songs are slowed down and pitched a little lower. Unlike other bands – Led Zeppelin’s Celebration Day reunion show comes to mind – this doesn’t really hurt the songs, which are designed to draw in the listener and establish a mood. And although you’ve heard many of them before, the power of “Firth Of Fifth,” the latter-day prog pop of “Domino” and the jam on “Home By The Sea” remain arresting, as does the drum duet between Collins and Thompson, which is quite impressive.

As always, the playing is impeccable and lively, Collins and Rutherford really get into the show (Tony Banks, in all black, presides over the court from his royal keyboard throne), and the Italian crowd is at peak energy. Collins reads his between-song patter in Italian off of crib notes and takes pictures of the crowd, never taking himself too seriously, which is a bit of a relief from an established band on an oldies tour like this.

The DVD is well packaged, with an interview about each song available during the song or separately, a photo gallery and a third disc about the tour and show, including debate over which songs to play and what key to play them in. Longtime fans will eat it up.

Casual fans who loved Genesis during their 80s pop heyday will get the most out of this; if you liked “Invisible Touch,” go ahead and grab this, as it’s the best visual representation of the band’s music. Older fans (those who like “Watcher Of The Skies”) may want to think twice. And anyone who already owns the live discs really doesn’t need this at all unless they want a concert video of their favorite songs. When In Rome ends up being enjoyable but unnecessary except as a souvenir.

Rating: C

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