Blue Snaggletooth Reviews:
Second Time, 27/9/07 (Giants Stadium, East Rutherford NJ)
Giants Stadium is a truly gigantic venue, and streams of people were flowing into it. As we joined the streams I found it difficult to believe that everyone there was actually going to see Genesis. I checked my ticket to be sure. Do this many people really like Genesis? Yes, it was true. The crowd here was of a different makeup than the Philly crowd, however. My wife had amused herself the previous week with counting Genesis T-shirts, but after a while they became pretty numerous. At East Rutherford I probably could have counted the Genesis shirts I saw on my own two hands. This show was not a sell-out, and was peopled by more casual fans than the hardcore audience packing the Wachovia Center. More on that later.
As we circled the rim of the building (our section not being very near our parking spot this time), I caught glimpses of the stage through the section openings and was happy with what I saw: this was the full-size stage I'd seen in the Dusseldorf video, not the wingless, stubby one that got crammed into the Philly arena. Our seats were in generally the same location, at the right side of the stage in the 100s, but we weren't turned at a sharp right angle and I did not have to turn my body awkwardly in my seat to get a good view. There had been rumors of a thunderstorm, and it's possible there was a little rain during the night (Phil was wearing his zip-up jacket throughout the show), but fortunately the only thing we got out of it was a gentle breeze: our seats were covered by the jutting upper tier above us.
I confidently expected the show to begin at around the same time the Philly show began. Genesis has no opening band, but of course they can't just get on stage at showtime, and it had taken them twenty minutes to start the show the previous week. At Giants Stadium, 8:20 came and went with nothing happening on stage, apart from a roadie mysteriously picking up large sheets of plexiglass and hauling them backstage. The many available seats in the arena were still only about half-filled, and I began to presume a little sadly that the band had barely been able to justify playing in such a large venue. At around quarter to nine, engineers began to come on stage and fiddle with the equipment. I angrily wondered why they hadn't bothered to do this forty-five minutes earlier. By this time, the seats had actually begun to fill up. At around nine o'clock, when the music signalling the band's entrance finally began playing, Giants Stadium looked impressively full.
For me, this second show was better in many ways than the Philly show. The full-size stage really made the performance more impressive. The stalks rising behind the screen were taller, I think, and had the fabric stretched between them, and the main LED screen had sweeping wings connected to it on either side that ended in larger oval video screens. The lighting rigs that ride up the stalks during "Second Home by the Sea" shot sparks out as they rose, which they had not done in Philly, and the fireworks display at the end of "Invisible Touch" was on a bigger scale in the outdoors: flashy and spectacular.
The audience, as I've said, was not as "hardcore" as the Philly audience. Aside from the T-shirt comparison, a telling difference was in the amount of time we spent standing up. There were many people there who probably would have been happy to sit through the whole show, and only stood when forced to it by popular opinion. The older songs definitely did not get the enthusiastic reception they did at Philly: I was disappointed to see a mass exodus to the bathrooms and concession stands right in the middle of Daryl's big solo in "Firth of Fifth"! I think there were a lot of people there who had enjoyed the band during the Invisible Touch era and spent the duration of songs like "I Know What I Like" wondering, "What album is this on?" At the final touching encore of "Carpet Crawlers," the majority of the people in our section were headed for the exit; as I was standing there holding my wife and savoring the final chorus, a man and his wife pointedly asked me to get out of the way so that they could leave.
(That being said, I can't really speak for the fans on the floor, who were probably more experienced and enthusiastic old-schoolers. Also, to be fair, there were parts of the "Cage" medley that everyone enjoyed. There is a moment in the epic piece, probably towards the end of "Cage," where the running figure on the back screen shatters into a million pieces--everyone cheered at this point. Also always a great moment in the medley is the part where Tony breaks into the "Riding the Scree" theme--that got some cheering as well.)
The numbers that really grabbed the audience were the big hits from the 80s: "Mama" in particular was a rousing version, with some great cackling from Phil. During the harder drum parts, white lights flashed behind the stage, looking like bursts of lightning. (One song that no one seemed to enjoy was "Hold on My Heart," which had even some 80s-era fans commenting "This is not one of their best.") I thought the band seemed more "on" that night, with Tony flying through the bridge of "Cage" and the beginning of "Firth of Fifth" with no problems. Mike did sort of mess up once, at the beginning of "I Can't Dance," and didn't start the guitar riff in the right place (which he's supposed to do when Phil walks his silly walk onto the stage and bumps his head into Mike). Phil might not have sung every single word, but his voice was in good shape, and the sound was good. I had been a bit worried about the sound quality, since the last time my wife and I had visited Giants Stadium (in 2003 for one of the last in a series of sold-out shows by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), we had been two of the very tiny people in the back on the second tier, and the sound quality had been absolutely awful. Fortunately you gets whats you pay for, and the 100s section acoustics were much better.
Part of the reason I enjoyed this performance so much may have been less due to the band's playing and more to the fact that we did not have drunken idiots sitting right behind us. The people behind us were a very quiet bunch of grown-ups who probably wanted to sit through the show and were not excitable. We did in fact have some drunken idiots near us, but they were two rows ahead and were not really annoying after "Land of Confusion." They were two young guys, probably in their 20s, and when "No Son of Mine" started the one said to the other "I love this song!!!" They danced crazily and tried to get everybody to stand up with them. The dancing was actually pretty funny, but I definitely wouldn't have wanted to be sitting right behind them. They were clearly misfits in the crowd, though, and one of the gentlemen whose line of sight was being blocked by their gyrations eventually took it upon himself to angrily curse them out, to the extent that I thought we might have to watch a fistfight. However this verbal abuse convinced one of the two to sit down, and eventually the other one sulkily joined him. Much later in the show, though not at the end, the two got up and left (or possibly were ejected--I was trying not to pay attention), to general applause. Poor guys. I'm glad they didn't ruin the show for me, but they were clearly in the wrong company and must not have had a good time.
To return to the actual show: I think Tony was getting really tired of being introduced at the beginning. As usual Phil snapped pictures of the audience after "Turn It on Again" and got us to say, "We love Genesis, especially Mister Tony Banks!" And Tony appeared on the big side video screens. He looked so irritated at that moment, even though he must have known it was coming. During "I Know What I Like," again as usual, Phil got the audience to go "Hey!" along with his hits of the tambourine. He was very careful this time to get us to pay attention to him and follow the fingers he held up, and the cameramen were very good about keeping his finger in the shot on the big side video screens--so that, when he switched from two tambourine hits down to one, nobody was fooled! This seems to be a pretty rare occurrence, and Phil only went through the tambourine thing once, then went to the microphone and said something like, "I can do that!" I was also very happy during the ending section of the drum duet, when Phil started yelling along as I'd heard him do on the European Encore recordings--somehow I hadn't heard this during the Philly show, so it was another special improvement for me.
I didn't feel as restrained by the people around me this time and really got into the show. It was a fantastic experience for me to finally see these guys. From around "Follow You Follow Me" on, I enjoyed every song and knew exactly what was coming next. I especially looked forward to the drum duet, and I was not disappointed. The audience always gets into "Throwing It All Away," because this is when the cameras point into the crowd and giant shots of the audience are projected on the back screen. At the end of the song, the cameras cut to a shot of an American flag waving above the stadium somewhere--of course, everyone cheered patriotically, though I wondered what the British guys on stage were thinking. It's silly but I really loved all the audience participation stuff, especially the Domino Principle thing. I hope they continue touring in 2008, so I can increase the total number of times I have ever seen my favorite band live to three (or four or five!).