Three Sides Live (DVD)

Genesis

Eagle Vision, 2014

http://www.genesis-music.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/30/2014

The first question one must ask about a DVD re-release of the decades-old VHS companion piece to one of the ever-divisive Genesis’ least-loved live albums is, why?

There’s the pure nostalgia of it, of course—both the on-stage and behind-the-scenes footage is genuinely a time capsule of Big Rock Show Circa 1982, complete with weird glasses, abundant hair and brightly colored puffy wristbands (Phil Collins, what were you thinking?). Awkward is the word that keeps coming to mind, as it no doubt will again when our grandkids watch footage of those weirdos from way back in 2014, 30 years from now.

Beyond nostalgia, I have to say—and I’m not just being contrary here for the simple pleasure of being contrary—middle-period Genesis is actually my favorite. The Gabrielistas—and they are legion—will howl, but this writer prefers Trick Of The Tail through Genesis over anything on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. (And yes, I’m taking cover under my desk after typing that last sentence.)

So: there are pleasures to be found here, for the right kind of Genesis fan.

As usual, “Abacab” is a standout, its heavily syncopated rhythms driving the superb mid-song jam that’s among the highlights of this era of the band, with Tony Banks (keys) and Mike Rutherford (guitar) battling to a draw with double drums thundering away behind them. On its heels, “No Reply At All” is the obvious symbol of the corner Genesis was in the process of turning, a pop song decorated on the studio version with the Earth Wind & Fire horn section, and here with Banks’ keyboards taking on the horns’ role. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The “classic Genesis” medley of “In The Cage,” “The Cinema Show,” “Slippermen” and “Afterglow” is another highlight, with Banks’ supple, nimble keyboard runs, Daryl Stuermer and Rutherford’s steady-on, flash-free guitars and bass, and Chester Thompson’s endlessly adapatable drumming driving the group along under Collins’ most theatrical vocals of the evening. When Collins joins Thompson behind the drums, Rutherford jumps between fretboards of his double-necker 12-string/bass and sets the bass pedals to booming, and Banks goes double-handed Wakeman on us, reaching across the hemispheres of his gigantic keyboard rig, it’s a full-on prog-gasm.

The heavy, intense version of “Dodo/Lurker” found here is a strong one as well. Less interesting are bits like the willfully weird renditions of “Whodunnit?” and “Me And Sarah Jane,” and Collins’ maudlin “Man On The Corner,” which he should have saved for a solo album. Set-closer “Turn It On Again” is tightened and pumped up into an arena-sized anthem in spite of its unsettling undercurrents of ennui and, in this rendition, rage.

The staging is classic early ’80s arena rock, which is to say abundant dry ice fog and newfangled rotating light rigs, but otherwise mostly flat and unimaginative by modern standards. The camera work is similarly retro and cliché, very much of its era. Still, the behind-the-scenes material is fun and even rather touching when it shows the band members’ still-young families and children on tour with them. The interviews are mostly standard stuff, but occasionally revealing, as when Banks, Collins and Rutherford discuss the composition and recording process for both the song and the album Abacab.

This reissue adds seven audio-only live tracks from the same tour, with “One For The Vine,” “Follow You Follow Me,” and the early-Genesis epic “Fountain Of Salmacis” nicely filling out the rather abbreviated setlist covered in the video footage. There’s nothing revelatory here, but these are welcome additions for the completist fan.

Bonus tracks or no, a re-release of the DVD version of Three Sides Live isn’t going to excite many Genesis fans, but it gave this (admittedly somewhat contrary) one enough moments of pleasure to be worth a spin. Your mileage may vary.

Rating: C+

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