Genesis fans, you have your notice.
Though the title of the band’s current tour, “The Last Domino?,” suggests an open-ended future, its members have confirmed that this is the final road run for an outfit that helped define prog-rock in the ‘70s and reinvented itself to tremendous pop success in the MTV-driven ‘80s.
Since the start of the tour in Europe this fall, frontman Phil Collins, 70, whose drumming imbued Genesis with its characteristic sound, has performed seated on stage, the result of debilitating nerve damage that affects his hands and back.
Collins’ 20-year-old son, Nicholas, is replacing his dad behind the drums.
Keyboardist Tony Banks, and bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford, both 71 and co-founders of the band that boasted Peter Gabriel as its inaugural lead singer (he departed after “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” album in 1974), are at peace with the reality of finality. Rutherford, though, is well aware that there “will be a lot of tears” when that last gig wraps in 2022.
Genesis’ U.S. tour - its first since 2007 - kicks off Monday with two nights at the United Center in Chicago before roaming North America for more than a dozen shows, including Washington, D.C., Toronto, Detroit, Philadelphia and New York.
Rutherford said no West Coast dates are planned, which means Genesis’ March 2022 European concerts, including three makeup dates – necessitated after COVID infected their ranks – in London March 24-26, will be the end.
Genesis will also be joined on stage by longtime touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer. The band hopes its visually arresting show satisfies its generations of fans with a set list that includes ‘70s favorites (“I Know What I Like [In Your Wardrobe],” “The Cinema Show,” “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”) and ‘80s radio smashes (“Land of Confusion,” “Invisible Touch,” “That’s All”).
Rutherford and Banks talked to USA TODAY shortly before the U.S. tour launch for a candid chat.
Question: There has obviously been concern for Phil’s strength and stamina. How has he been enduring the road?
Mike Rutherford: He’s done well. Funny enough, we almost got through the (European) tour and I got COVID, but Phil was perfect. He’s doing fine. When you see the show, he definitely holds the crowd.
Q: What were some of the challenges for both of you to adapt to your frontman being seated?
Tony Banks: We spent a lot of time thinking about the vocals and slightly changed the emphasis of the set so it’s a bit less instrumental. Nic really plugs the gap very well and the visuals work in a way that a seated Phil isn’t as noticeable.
Rutherford: In a way we’re lucky with what you can do with screens now, how it can make it feel like movement with close-ups. People come to the show and say they forget Phil isn’t moving around.
Q: Nicholas is, by all accounts, doing a phenomenal job. What was it like for you to get used to someone else behind the drum kit?
Banks: He’s a very versatile drummer and can sound like Phil when he was 18, 19 years old. He’s able to get that same kind of feel, so much so that it’s uncanny at times, like you’re playing with a young Phil. And he’s a lovely person to have on tour.
Rutherford: In fact, when we first stated rehearsing pre-pandemic, Nic arrived so prepared. It was fantastic. He knew all the songs backward and forward. He was solid from day one.
Banks: He did know the stuff very well, but once he had to learn (more of the catalog), he worked really hard at it. He wants to do the job and was very excited about doing the Genesis stuff.
Q: Choosing the set list had to be a massive challenge because the two chapters of Genesis sound very, very different and I would think you have fans from those different eras. What was that process like?
Rutherford: You have the long songs and the short hits, which you know you’ll play. It’s more the optional songs (that are the challenge). Our history in the last 30-odd years has been since MTV, when the hits overshadowed the rest of the album. But onstage the long songs were always very popular.
Banks: People aren’t quite as divided as you suggest. It blends into one for us and there are many people in the audience who like it all. You’re always going to leave out someone’s favorite song, so you try to balance it out.
Q: There is a question mark at the end of the tour name, but Phil has said this is his last outing. Do you agree this is probably it for Genesis and the road?
Banks: I think it is. We’d always say never say never, but there comes a point. I haven’t toured myself since (the last Genesis reunion in) 2007, and thought, why not? It’s fun, it will get me off my (butt). But with the pandemic, it has extended things longer than intended, but it’s been great fun to do. We’ve having to do some stuff later because of COVID, but when we do the final show next year, that will be it.
Rutherford: I think there will be a lot of tears. It will be an emotional moment if you know it’s going to be our final song. Genesis has been all of my life, 50 or 60 years, and it will be something I miss. It’s been nice for the three of us to spend some reconnected time together. It makes you solidify things. There are things that that only the three of us understand because we lived it.
Banks: We thought the 2007 tour would be the end, and this was never planned, so it was a nice thing to have happened. But it’s important to know when to stop something. I thought the other day, Ed Sheeran is playing four nights at Wembley Stadium (in 2022) and that’s a wonderful moment in his career. We hit that moment 35 years ago. So I’d say if you want to see Genesis, don’t put it off ‘til the next one. We’re not like the (Rolling) Stones.