Three very different concerts, three very different experiences

Justin Rodstrom

By Justin Rodstrom

Staff Reporter

Genesis at Wachovia Center

“Genesis?” Aren’t they some lame synth Phil Collins show that died in the ’80s? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. After seeing Genesis Sept. 17 and 19, though I gotta say the performances put a lot of my prejudices to shame.

With stellar musicianship and spiraling instrumental passages, the big PC was only one facet of an adept group.

Founding guitarist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks stole the show with experimental, “Wish You Were Here”-era Pink Floydian jams (yes, I’m invoking the Mighty Floyd).

Collins was almost completely relegated to one amazing drum off with fellow drummer Chester Thompson toward the end of the show, which was somewhat of a relief to me.

And to the disappointment of my buddy (and the enjoyment of myself), Genesis played neither “In The Air” nor “Against All Odds,” two Collins solo staples. I tried explaining to Eric that asking Genesis to play Collins songs is like requesting “Layla” at the Cream shows in Madison Square Garden – if you wanna hear that stuff, you’re just missing the whole point. Now I’m not going to say that Genesis changed my life or anything; I probably won’t even go out and get the greatest hits album… but Genesis surprised the hell out of me, and I have to give credit where credit is due. I mean, you have to be a diplomatic person if you can handle being in a band with Phil Collins.

Tower of Rock: BRMC & Kings of Leon

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Just listen to that name. These dudes came out greasy-haired, leather-jacketed and ready to rock your socks off with some badassery and some blues.

Complete with a huge banner and some creepy lo-fi lighting effects, BRMC pulled together an amazing set, and it was just the opener. On the heels of the newly released “Baby 81,” BRMC felt just as comfortable in the new jams as it did in some of its more established work. From a perennial radio band with some minor hits like BRMC, I wasn’t expecting much. I thought I’d know a couple tracks and zone out the rest of the time, waiting for my precious Kings.

BRMC was just scary good, especially during one song when the lonesome, Johnny Cash-esque singer/guitarist Peter Hayes, stripped of his leather momentarily, hung us all out on a low-slung acoustic, storytelling-style ballad called “Restless Sinner” with glowing red lighting, dark inflection and thoughtful chord accompaniment.

And yes, Kings of Leon tore the Tower down. I thought rock was a dying art form, but KOL showed up with a vitality, and the crowd responded to every distorted chord.

Even though Kings of Leon have clearly progressed in their songwriting since the first album, they were able to reanimate some of their less-than-stellar studio work with a sense of conviction not present on the records.

The new album, however, is an unbelievable step forward for them- these new tracks dominated the show, including “Charmer,” “On Call,” “Camaro” and the blistering. “How Many More Times”-like sprawling jam that is “Black Thumbnail.”

Philadelphia Orchestra: The Rite of Spring

But if you don’t mind the excursion to classical music, I just have to talk about conductor Christoph Eschenbach and his stellar leadership of the Philadelphia Orchestra through a whimsical Tchaikovsky selection, “Symphony No. 1 (Winter Daydreams),” and a dramatic Stravinsky selection, “Rite of Spring.”

Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 1” is a standard classical piece in the allegro, adagio, allegro vivace progression. It features a very standard arrangement, including generous string sections backed and complimented by woodwinds and sparse percussive and brass inflections.

The first segment features the upper registries of the violin quite prominently, unlike the second two segments that focus more on the lower range of the stringed instruments, relying on flute to carry the upper sections. Like any good classical piece, “Symphony No. 1” plays to the strengths of the instruments and arrangement, creating a dramatic finale with heightened tempo and tension.

Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 1” is in stark contrast to the dynamic, challenging nature of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” I can now understand why, when the erotic “Rite of Spring” premiered in 1913 it caused an uproar and even lead to a riot.

Although there were no dancers present at the show (unfortunately), the bombastic and hedonistic nature of the piece evokes emotion and drama not usually found in more conventional classical pieces. “Rite of Spring” is also quite unconventional in its elaborate use of percussion and intimidating brass, as well as its grandiose style and intricate use of the entire orchestra.

Unlike Tchaikovsky’s piece, Stravinsky’s “Rite” does not rely on the crutch of strings to get through, but is a more dramatic and fuller realization of the powerhouse that a full orchestra can be.