Kenny Landreaux . . . Mike Ramsey . . . Genesis.
Is there a curse on center field at Dodger Stadium?
Remember: This is the season local baseball fans saw the chance to sign a superstar center fielder--free agent Tim Raines--slip through the home team’s hands.
Similarly, rock fans might have dreamed about seeing a great band join the select list of attractions--including the Beatles and Michael Jackson--who have performed on a center-field stage at the ball park.
Instead, we got Genesis on Friday night.
Business was good: a 56,000-person sell-out.
And the fans appeared to have a good time: They stood when singer Phil Collins asked them . . . and raised their hands above their heads . . . and shouted aaae-oh-aaae (or something like that) along with him.
Still, the concert was less eventful than watching the stadium infield crew roll out the infield tarp during a downpour.
The decoration on the front of the band’s $16 souvenir T-shirts offers various definitions of the word Genesis.
There’s Gen-e-sis: The act or mode of originating, creating, beginning. And there’s Gen-e-sis: The first book of Pentateuch in the Old Testament. To which we now add: Gen-e-sis: B-o-r-i-n-g .
Stadium concerts are popular in Southern California, but they’re a drag unless you’re dealing with a band that enjoys an almost legendary place in rock or a band with such a fanatical following that the emotion in the ballpark reaches a memorable level.
In its early days, Genesis was a promising, if often overly ambitious progressive-rock entry, highlighted by expert musicianship and the showmanship/imagination of lead singer Peter Gabriel. After Gabriel quit the group a decade ago for a solo career, the English band evolved into a more straightforward pop-rock unit. Thanks to such hit singles as the moody “Misunderstanding,” Genesis hasn’t fallen short of the Top 10 with an album since 1980’s “Duke.”
Joined on stage by a drummer and guitarist, the remaining members--Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks and bassist Mike Rutherford--put on a show Friday that was part serious (the instrumental textures were sometimes dazzling) and part good-natured (Collins is as unabashedly corny as an emcee at an amateur talent contest).
Yet, there’s something flabbergastingly insignificant about Genesis. Its themes touch on the usual subjects--various desires and disappointments in love and life--but there is scant discovery. That isn’t music that documents our times or questions our assumptions, the way involving art does. Rather than bite, probe or surprise, Genesis’ music just lulls. No wonder it fits so perfectly into beer commercials. This night did belong to Michelob, the tour sponsor.
Opening act Paul Young suffered most from the vast stadium setting because the English singer’s act is far more visual. He’s a gritty singer with obvious affection for the music and fancy steps of American soul singers. Young can be most appealing when he connects with the right material, but he exhibits a curious tendency to pick nondescript numbers.
Until it was dark enough for the closed-circuit video screens at the sides of the stage to be turned on, it was hard to even tell from most of the stadium seats what Young was wearing, much less see his sometimes striking footwork.
“It looks like a mustard-colored bellboy’s suit,” one fan in the third deck speculated about Young’s outfit. “No,” someone else contested, looking at the tiny figure on the stage more than 300 feet away. “It’s a gold caballero suit.”
Asked to break the tie, three other fans refused to even venture a guess. In fact, only two of the five were willing from that distance to even swear the figure on stage was even Young.
Ah, stadium rock.