“A Night to Remember” - the Rocking Horse Music Club perform the music of Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford at Trading Boundaries, Saturday 16th November 2019. Review by Alan Hewitt. Photographs by Tony Bridgeman and Patrizia Marinelli.
Well, to say that tonight’s concert was a dream come true is definitely an understatement! I have always wondered what Ant’s music would sound like in the live context and have been chivvying Ant to perform some if it himself practically since the first time I met him, all those years ago! Tonight that dream came true. OK, Mr Phillips himself was in the audience rather than on stage but when you have an assembly of musicians as talented as those whom Brian Coombs has put together to perform it, that really doesn’t matter.
The evening got under way with introductions by the owner of the venue; Michael Clifford and, before I go any further, a word or two have to be said about the location of the evening’s performance. Trading Boundaries is quite unlike any other venue I have ever visited. A veritable Aladdin’s cave of antiques, oriental ephemera and of course, it is also home to the exhibition of the artwork by the illustrious Roger Dean, so there was already plenty to occupy us before we even sat down to the excellent meal which was part of the evening’s package. This was followed by a few words from the ubiquitous Mr Richard MacPhail who was present hawking his excellent tome: My Book Of Genesis.
|Then we settled back for the main event to begin and the band took the stage to applause and got things under way with Um & Aargh from the Wise After The Event album with Patrik Gochez assuming the mantle of Mr Phillips himself for a superbly delivered vocal. This was followed by Traces from the criminally underrated Invisible Men album delivered superbly well by Justin Cohn. Musically, there was absolutely nothing to fault here, the band simply didn’t put a foot wrong and thankfully did not try to deliver these songs as carbon copies of the originals but instead, put their own unique stamp on them. I was surprised to hear Paperchase next. Not one of Ant’s most instantly accessible songs but once again, performed to perfection and kudos here to Myron Kibbee whose twelve string work throughout ws absolutely impeccable.|
I was already in hog heaven but then came the moment which completely blew me away and reduced me to tears: Something Blue. I still hav every fond memories of hearing this as an instrumental when I was helping Ant select tracks for the Dragonfly Dreams album and I said to him then that it deserved to be a song - little knowing that it already WAS! When I finally heard the vocal version on the bonus disc to one of the recent reissue sets, I was completely captivated. To hear it live at long last was simply wonderful and Evelyn Cormier’s vocal was absolutely superb - I cried and sang throughout!
Pulling Faces and Which Way The Wind Blows were equally enjoyable and the latter saw the first appearance onstage tonight of Mr Noel McCalla on vocals and it was a true delight to hear him. Collections and Sleepfall: The Geese Fly West were all superbly performed and brought vividly to life. It felt as if this band had been performing these classics for years and so it is truly remarkable to realise that they have not had long to learn them = it certainly didn’t show!
The first set of the evening was closed by Nightmare from the Sides album, but a version with a twist as we got the addition of a suitably ethereal vocal from Caroline Carter which took the piece to another dimension, aided and abetted by some excellent rhythm sounds from the combo of Brenden Harisaides on bass and Eric Wagley on drums.
The second half of the evening got under way with Tregenna Afternoons from the first of the Private Parts & Pieces series of albums - a truly brave attempt to recreate this masterpiece but on nylon and six string acoustic guitars instead of the original twelve string arrangement.
The band were then joined onstage once again by Noel McCalla to perform a quartet of songs from the debut album by Ant’s former cohort in Genesis: Mike Rutherford. Smallcreep’s Day has always been among the most respected albums in the Genesis solo canon and tonight we got to see why as the original vocalist who was going to do the honours. Was it good? No, it was simply sublime. To hear Time And Time Again, Every Road, Working In Line and At The End Of |The Day was a pleasure and a thrill I doubt I shall ever forget. Once again Myron Kibbee deserves credit for some remarkable twelve string playing throughout and the end result was a truly remarkable set of songs that had me blubbing and singing throughout. These songs mean so much to me and so many other people!
Another surprise was next with a truly remarkable performance of another of my favourites from the Sides album: Bleak House. Here Patrik Gochez delivered what was an absolutely stunning vocal on what is not an easy song to sing - but he managed it with aplomb for us tonight!
After some well deserved band introductions from bandmeister Brian Coombes, we were given one of the Rocking Horse Music Club’s own songs: Everywhere Is Home, a delightful Gospel tinged number which garnered well deserved applause from the audience before the evening was brought to a close with a delightful Country style reading of Silver Song, on which Justin Cohn and Myron Kibbee merged vocals and twelve string into a glorious union bringing cheers from the crowd at its conclusion.
That should have been enough to send everyone home happy but oh, no, we were in for some more surprises as the band returned to the stage and Mr Coombes informed us that they had reached back into the dank, dark Sixties to drag a couple of tracks from that well known band: The Janitors, kicking and screaming into the light. First up, In The \Beginning (how appropriate!) and a feisty and rambunctious version it was too, proving that even in their infancy, Genesis knew how to rock out - in their own special way of course! The evening was finally brought to a close with One-Eyed Hound, nit the mist obvious of choices but a delight to hear nonetheless.
And that was it. Two hours plus had flown by. That is always the case when you are enjoying yourself though, isn’t it? And there was no end of enjoyment to be had from this selection of music. The Rocking Horse Music Club are simply one of the best ensembles of musicians I have ever had the pleasure to see. Each and every member was evidently having a blast performing this music and that joy was communicated to the audience who reciprocated in kind. For me, after being a fan of this music and the musicians who created it for the better part of my life; hearing it at last was an unadulterated joy beyond measure and for that I simply cannot thank the members of the Rocking Horse Music Club enough.
There are, of course, a few thank you’s to be made; First of all, to Michael Clifford and all the staff at Trading Boundaries for creating such a wonderful venue for such an event to take place. To the guys and girls of the Rocking Horse Music Club for taking the task on and pulling it off so incredibly well. To Anthony Phillips and Patrizia Marinelli for their support and kind words. To Kenny brown without whom the trip would not have been possible and to Sara and Tony Bridgeman for their wonderful hospitality again. And to everyone who came up and said hello before, during and after the gig many of whom were former inhabitants of The Pavilion, it was wonderful to meet you all - let’s do it all again next year eh?