Originally, I was due to go to this gig with my friend Birdseye, who is a big GENESIS fan, but the poor old sod had an ear infection, so he had to cry-off sick at the last minute! Luckily, another friend put his hand up for the ticket at short notice. This was guitarist GLYN PROTHEROE – another self-confessed Genesis nut, and ex-member of the Genesis tribute band REGENESIS (You may have seen him – he played the PETER GABRIEL part from ’94 to ’98).
We were a little late entering the auditorium, and consequently didn’t get seated until near the end of the first song by the support act. This was BRYAN JOSH and OLIVIA SPARNENN of MOSTLY AUTUMN doing a short acoustic duet. I was very much looking forward to their set, so I was disappointed to miss the first song which I think was from their Passengers album. All was not lost however, as next up was the beautiful ‘Evergreen’ from my favourite Mostly Autumn album, (their 3rd) The Last Bright Light (2001). This was a fine acoustic arrangement of one of their classic songs. Bryan’s guitar work with Livvy’s vocals and flute-playing were a joy to hear.
Their next offering ‘The House On The Hill’, was from their new concept album Dressed In Voices. Which Livvy described as ‘…quite a dark concept, but…. surprisingly uplifting’. I quite enjoyed it. This was eclipsed for me, however, by another great MA favourite of mine ‘Heroes Never Die’; from their remarkable debut album For All We Shared (1998). I love this song. Again, it was an interesting conversion for an acoustic duet; that didn’t lose any of the emotion of the original. A privilege to listen to; and I thank the couple for performing it. The final choice of this micro-set, was the title track of the new album; and a fine song it is too.
All in all, Bryan and Livvy performed an excellent little set – personally, I think I could have sat through a couple of hours of MA unplugged if this was a sample of it! My only disappointment is that I’d have liked to have heard ‘Shrinking Violet’ too; but time was obviously limited. Fine acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonies throughout. At the break, Glyn and I had a little chat with the couple, and I bought the new album. We had a longer conversation with them later – after the Hackett set – and we found them to be very friendly and talkative. A pleasure to meet them both.
Back in the auditorium, we eagarly awaited the entrance of the headline act. They appeared on stage after a short wait – our host centre stage; Gibson Les Paul Gold-Top in hand. The band consists of STEVE HACKETT, of course, on guitars (who rquires no introduction from me); ROGER KING, Keyboards (who’s worked with numerous musos, including the late GARY MOORE); GARY O’TOOLE, Drums and Vocals (another veteran rock/blues/pop artist); ROB TOWNSEND, Wind and Percussion (a well-known Jazz musician and score-writer); NICK BEGGS, Bass and Guitar (ex-IONA, and among others on his CV, ’80s pop group Kajagoogoo); and the remarkable NAD SYLVAN, vocals (who, having a voice that sonds like both Gabriel and Collins at once, is entirely suited to the task in hand!) All in all, a fine looking line-up.
In the brief silence before the start, one fan immediately called out for ‘Spectral Mornings’! Hackett thanked him, and smiling, explained that as this was his Genesis Extended Tour, he’d only be playing material from the parent band, and unfortunately not his solo work. That clarified, the band launched into two tracks from A Trick Of The Tail (1976); namely, ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and ‘Squonk’. It was good to hear these old classics once again after all these years; and performed so close to the originals too. And it was clear from the off that we were in for a grand show; with the band in superb form – and Sylvan obviously being the right man for the vocals. The audience gave up rapturous applause. A rousing start.
Next was a particular favourite of mine: ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’, from Selling England By The Pound (1973). Again this was very well performed by the lads, and sung by Sylvan (this time in Gabriel mode), and as near as you will get to the original Genesis front-man. From The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974), it was then time for ‘Fly On A Windshield’. Drummer Gary did a fine job on vocals for this one; and Nick was remarkable with a stick-bass too.
Nursery Cryme’s ‘Return Of The Giant Hogweed’; ‘The Fountain Of Salmacis’; and ‘Musical Box’ were then performed; with a quality to which we’d already been accustomed to at this gig. And following these live favourites, the original band’s nearest thing to a hit single, ‘I Know What I Like’ (Selling Englnd…) was then presented to us. A great solo from Rod on this one.
After a short break, we found Steve alone on stage with a nylon-strung acoustic, ready to give us his brief, but beautiful, ‘Horizons’ (from Foxtrot, ’72). It was a sublime rendition – a pleasure to see and hear. Changing back to his Gold-Top, and with the band returning to the stage, we witnessed ‘Firth Of Fifth’ (Selling England…) with its classically inspired piano intro and its odd time-signatures. Good solos from Steve and Rob; and Nick did a fine job with his twin-necked bass/12-string (every bit a Prog-Rock instrument!)
And the old classics kept coming: ‘Lilly-White Lilith’ (The Lamb…) was the next song; with Nick playing a Chapman Stick – again, good solos from Steve and Rob. Our final piece of the main set was the lengthy ‘Supper’s Ready’ (Foxtrot). This was a fantastic rendition, with excellent 12-string sound; and went down very well.
The well-deserved encore consisted of another Foxtrot track: ‘Watcher Of The Skies’; which was followed aptly by ‘Los Endos’. Rapturous applause ensued from the auditorium, full of Genesis aficionados. All in all, a well chosen set, I thought. My only slight disappointment was the omission of ‘Ripples’; but that’s a minor complaint!
Back down in the foyer, we awaited the appearance of Mr.Hackett to meet his fans. While we waited, we chatted again with Bryan and Livvy of Mostly Autumn. And who should I bump into but the ubiquitous Dave Kitteridge and his wife Trudie of Touchline Live Music. If this lovely couple are not hosting an excellent gig at their club, then they’re in the audience at someone else’s show – not a bad life at all! Well, we waited ages but SH didn’t show up. Glyn was still keen to see him though, so we went and found the stage door, and there he was just about to leave. We only had time for a quick hand-shake and to offer our congrats to him on a fine show before he was off.
My thanks to all the staff at the Cliffs Pavilion for their hard work; and to Glyn Protheroe for putting the info straight on a few points; and commiserations to Birdseye for missing the gig! PTMQ.