The Genesis Song Phil Collins Stopped Playing Live for a Strange Reason

Genesis crossed so many genres back in their heyday of the 1970s and 1980s. They evolved from a prog-rock band into pop-rock and prog-pop through the years. They delivered some truly incredible hits. “Land Of Confusion” and “That’s All” are just a couple of chart-topping tracks. However, there was one song that the band eventually stopped playing live; and Phil Collins won’t even play it as a solo artist. That song would be the “Abacab” from the 1981 record of the same name.

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The album itself was a hit, particularly in the UK where it reached no. 1. So why did the band stop playing the eponymous single that became a Top 10 hit?

The Mysterious Shelving of “Abacab”

Genesis reunited for a reunion tour back in 2007. The band was throwing around some ideas for the setlist, and naturally, the hit track “Abacab” came up. According to Phil Collins, he suddenly didn’t want to perform the song ever again during rehearsals for the tour.

“That happened with ‘Abacab,’ which I’m sure everyone expects us to do,” Collins said in a Rolling Stone interview (via SongFacts) around the time of the tour. “Halfway through the first verse, I said, ‘I don’t really want to sing this. I don’t know what it’s about.’”

As a result, the song didn’t make it to their setlist. In fact, it hadn’t even been performed live since 1987. And it still hasn’t been performed by Collins since.

Collins’ reasoning was a bit vague. But it does help to understand that Genesis dropped a lot of hits from their setlist in their later years before disbanding (possibly) for good in 2022. “Watcher Of The Skies” and “In Too Deep” were dropped, as were “Misunderstanding” and “Supper’s Ready”. All certified hits and iconic markers in Genesis’ discography. So, why’d they shelve them?

One could say that the fact that the band had such a massive discography had an impact on what made it to their final shows. The band was also notably older, so performing more complex hits was likely difficult. 

And when it comes down to it, musicians change just like anyone else. The ebb and flow of time will turn you into a different person eventually. For Collins, it simply turned him into someone who didn’t want to perform “Abacab” again.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown

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