It's no surprise the new music DVD When in Rome 2007 from Genesis is a well-crafted, three-disc document of the group's first tour in 15 years. Since its formation more than 40 years ago, the band has been known for its technical precision in both sound and vision.
The 2½ hour-plus concert (out on DVD Tuesday— exclusively at Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Walmart.com, Samsclub.com and genesis-music.com, $20-$30) spans the group's career from the time when Peter Gabriel fronted the group (1973's Firth of Fifth and I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) to 1991's We Can't Dance album. The DVD's director and producer David Mallett, previously directed concert videos for AC/DC, Cher, Cirque du Soleil Madonna and U2.
As the concert plays out, viewers can click on an interactive icon to watch more than an additional hour of video clips, mainly from tour rehearsals. A film-length documentary on the third disc covers all the tour's inner workings from the first planning meetings to the Rome concert that ended the band's European tour.
I talked with keyboardist Tony Banks, singer/drummer Phil Collins and guitarist Mike Rutherford about the DVD and tour:
Q: Was the 500,000 at the Rome show (July 14, 2007) the largest crowd the band has performed in front of?
Mike Rutherford: Yes, it was. I'm sure it was. It was a great opportunity. We have a great history in Italy. For me to play somewhere that special, the Circus Maximus, rather than another dome or arena or stadium, and the setting outside with a bit of backdrop of Rome behind, it was something for us very special, I think.
Q: Is there any additional pressure with a show like this and the fact you are recording a DVD?
Tony Banks: Having the DVD recording is definitely additional pressure, particularly, I think it was the first time we tried to record a show which hasn't been a multiple show. Normally, you have it so that you can do more than one (show at a venue) so if you have a problem or something goes wrong, cameras or something, you know there is another show to kind of cover the bits that you didn't get. But on this particular show, we thought this is such a special occasion we really would like to record this one. We did need to put all our eggs in one basket and if something had gone wrong we would have lost it. But we were lucky and fortunately the cameras all worked and most of the time we played pretty well. The extra people doesn't really provide any more pressure. Once you get above 20 people, it's always the same.
Q: Talk about how this stage show compared to past productions.
Rutherford: We've always enjoyed putting on a show like that and I think our music lends itself towards that kind of interpretation with lights, the Vari-lites and lighting stuff (lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe's credits include concerts for Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the High School Musical Tour). It was quite a challenge, but what is exciting now in a way is the technology with screens what you can do in terms of visual content. We shot various films, animation and stuff. It does enhance the songs and the band in really quite a great setting, song by song. I must say (set designer) Mark Fisher (whose credits include Cirque du Soleil, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, R.E.M., U2) who designed the stage show, was fantastic because he designed something really original but also something that actually did work as well, which is important, too.