When Genesis announced plans for their Last Domino? reunion tour earlier this year, many old-school fans were disappointed to learn that original frontman and Peter Gabriel and prog-era guitarist Steve Hackett weren’t going to be involved. Instead, it was essentially a reformation of the 1978 to 1992 lineup of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Daryl Stuermer — with Phil’s teenage son Nic taking the place of Chester Thompson behind the drum kit.
In a new interview with Mojo, the band explains the decision. “I think a reunion with Steve and Pete would be uphill,” said Collins. “Playing with Mike and Tony is the easy option.”
Rutherford agreed. “I know people love the idea that the five of us will get together again, but the songs most people know and love are from the last 40 years,” he said. “Peter left so long ago. I really don’t know what we could do with him now.”
Banks echoed the sentiment. “As much as I love those early albums,” he said, “it would be weird to just do songs from that period.”
The band hasn’t played with Gabriel since a one-off reunion show in 1982. In 2005, however, Banks, Collins and Rutherford held a meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, with Gabriel and Hackett to discuss the idea of reformation. The idea was to perform their 1974 double LP The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and finally capture it on film, something they failed to do on the original tour despite playing it 102 times.
When Gabriel arrived at the meeting and learned that he’d have to devote more time to it than he originally thought, he got cold feet. “It was growing into this bigger thing and I had all these other ideas that I wanted to do,” he told Rolling Stone in 2011. “I could feel the suction of the black hole. I get on pretty well with everybody — it wasn’t personal issues — I just didn’t want to lose that sort of light-footedness that I enjoy now…We had a great run. They did way better after I left anyway. So I don’t know think anyone has anything to complain about.”
When Gabriel and Hackett left the room, Collins, Banks and Rutherford decided to simply do it themselves. They hit the road two years later for the Turn It On Again tour, which took them to arenas and stadiums all across Europe and North America. The setlist focused on their pop hits of the Eighties and early Nineties, but they did sprinkle in songs from the Gabriel days like “The Carpet Crawlers” and “In the Cage” along with some Seventies post-Peter rarities like “Ripples.”
The group’s recent assertion that a Gabriel/Hackett reunion would be “weird” and “uphill” might seem odd to the countless Genesis tribute bands that play to enormous audiences; they perform material the band recorded in the Seventies. The Musical Box has been doing this for over 25 years and regularly packs places as large as the Royal Albert Hall. Hackett and Collins have both guested with them over the years.
Hackett would probably have a different take on the matter as well. He’s found great success in the past decade with his Genesis Revisited tours, which feature his own take on music recorded during his tenure in the band. He spent the past year playing the group’s 1973 LP Selling England by the Pound LP and plans on restaging their 1977 double live album Seconds Out later this year.
All of that said, Collins, Banks and Rutherford are right to say that casual fans are largely familiar with anything outside of Eighties and Nineties hits like “Invisible Touch,” “I Can’t Dance” and “Throwing It All Away.” This was the type of stuff the group focused on when they rehearsed for the tour in New York City earlier this year.
“The first songs we played were ‘No Son of Mine’ and ‘Land of Confusion,’” Banks told Mojo. “Mainly because they’re the two easiest. Nic knew them better than we did. He showed us up —embarrassingly so.”