The Canadian rock band stopped in Toronto on the final night of their sold-out tour for 2019. At long last, Genesis pulled in the crowd with their fist-pumping 1978 classic “That’s All Right,” before honouring their fellow Montrealer Leonard Cohen, performing the late singer’s “Hallelujah” and striding through a new composition that referenced the progressive rock movement of the 1970s.
If the mind-bending arrangements that became part of Cohen’s repertoire at a time when most musicians were still trying to sell out pop radio was probably not what most the band’s more than 32 million record sales or 45 No 1 singles are remembered for, the high-energy crowd sure seemed to enjoy its flightiness.
For too long Genesis have not been able to shake their Canadian legacies. For so long their audience considered them a country-rock act. Many attributed the band’s live shows to pacing so that they didn’t outdo themselves in the critical, often overwrought moments that accompanied most country-rock shows. On one album such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, the band stretched out to two hours without a lull.
Here they felt fresh – they were camping out as the band torched a cover of Billy Preston’s iconic bandmate John Wetton’s musical cover of Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from 1987’s Savage Breed. The best elements of the cover’s power-pop novelty – the fast-paced rhythm guitar and the grungy vocals that call the listener “down in the dumps, siding with Kurt” – survived, as did Wetton’s slide guitar.
“God, we can’t quit Stacee Jaxx,” joked Genesis guitarist Tony Banks. In this sense, the album was barely missed, if only for the room’s rhythmic approval.
Elton John also announced that he was bringing together a bunch of his friends, past and present, to recreate Pink Floyd’s 1973-75 Let’s Dance in Hyde Park, but could there be a better comeback act for the 80-year-old Canadian?
• Updated on 4 April 2019 to include ticket information for Elton John’s Hyde Park show