Fading Lights

Genesis visited the Netherlands. And no, I wasn’t there. A conscious decision. In 2007, however, I actually made it, together with a couple of close friends, also big fans of the British prog legends. I even bumped into some former neighbours, I never expected them to be there. But indeed, as the neighbour’s wife said: “it’s a must, simply not to be missed”. Follow You, Follow Me, something like that. A strange feeling came over me. Things got worse when I took my seat, high up with the Gods in the concrete colossus, just below the roof. The sound ranged from average to bad, the video wall was the only way to actually see the musicians on stage – The Cinema Show. The set list was aimed at the masses, the initial feeling became stronger. Halfway through I looked sideways at my mate. He looked back at me, he felt the same. Without saying a word we both knew: we will never be here again.

Still, I have to admit I was tempted when, at the beginning of 2020, the announcement of a final (?) concert series came. A good friend from England made it all the more difficult by pre-ordering tickets for the London O2 show. “Pull yourself together,” I said to myself. Maybe a good way to say goodbye to my old idols, Driving the Last Spike, that kind of thing. But Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works, concerts were rescheduled twice and strict measures by the British government made it virtually impossible to visit the country. In the end I decided not to go, my English friend was relieved; he didn’t like it either, in the middle of the pandemic. Those were unsettling times, Land of Confusion.

So I had no doubts when the tour was extended to continental Europe and also to Amsterdam; I stuck to my guns. Fast forward to March 2022, the time has come, Tonight, Tonight, Tonight. The first reactions and eyewitness reports are now seeping through. To my surprise, almost everyone is full of praise. Turn It On Again. About the quality of the musicians, the dazzling visual spectacle (think of the vari-lights and the moving mirrors above the stage in the late 1970s), not forgetting the powerful music. And all this from an unexpected angle.

The reviewer had dedicated almost 1,500 words to it, which must be a record for the leading Dutch music magazine. There were times when every new album and subsequent concert series was systematically burned to the ground by the editors. Other magazines and papers also wrote favourable articles about both shows at the 15,000 seater Ziggo Dome last week. Although the critical note was not lacking here; they didn’t dodge the false notes. Most of the reviewers were full of praise for the topicality of songs such as Land of Confusion and Domino. Did I have the wrong perspective? Has my refusal turned out to be a penchant for the past or just sheer arrogance? I don’t think so, this is nowhere near the Genesis I’ve enjoyed for so long. With the release of a double compilation CD with stale songs that have all appeared dozens of times on previous albums, they try to take some money out of our pockets. Whatever. Maybe I’ve become an old cynical man who thinks that everything used to be better in the old days, I Know What I Like. Quite possible. To be clear, this has nothing to do with the Gabriel vs Collins discussion; my favourite Genesis album is A Trick of the Tail and I haven’t missed out on a single performance by these guys in the Netherlands since 1977.

But I didn’t want to experience the decline from close range. Upon reflection, Fading Lights turns out to be a very suitable metaphor, the lights go out slowly but surely. That’s All.