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Genesis live set splits fans

Genesis“Live Over Europe”

The only way to tackle a review of the new Genesis 2-CD set “Live Over Europe” is to use a right-brain/left brain approach. If you’re a fan of the Phil Collins era of the band, this 21 song collection from its 2007 sold-out world tour is quite good and nearly essential. For the fans of the Peter Gabriel/Steve Hackett years, it’s an interesting spin, but typically filled with too much commercial pap.

To the right-brainers, many of the band’s biggest hits are here, including “Land of Confusion,” “Mama,” and the concert favorite, “Turn It On Again.” Despite the fact that the key has been lowered in each song to accommodate Phil Collins’ aging vocal chords, the live versions from all across Europe sound pretty much the same as they did in the ’80s and ’90s.

For the left-brain camp, the highlights are much less apparent. The standard medley of “In the Cage” and “Cinema Show” now tacks on a welcome section of “Duke’s End.” Beyond that, an excerpt from “Firth of Fifth,” the rarely played “Ripples,” and a rousing version of “Los Endos” are definite high points. Of course, everything comes to a crashing halt for the left-brainers when the encores approach. “Invisible Touch” and “I Can’t Dance” seem like a cruel but not unexpected trick. There’s a bit of salvage by closing the CD with “Carpet Crawlers,” but by then, it may be a little too late.

The upsides to the whole package are the pristine sound quality and the top-to-bottom set list. Every Genesis album (except “Abacab”) is covered here. While the two facets of the band’s career are hard to mesh, “Live Over Europe” is a representative snapshot of the band in all its configurations. The enjoyment factor just depends on your tolerance level for early Genesis material compared with the latter day popularity.

At the end of the day, the Phil fans get another serving of music from the band that has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide. The Peter/Steve fans are thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t shell out $225 for a half hour of their favorite songs. Good or bad, with “Live Over Europe,” there’s just no pleasing both sides.

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