The curse of Manchester - Genesis (almost) in concert at the AO Arena, Manchester on Friday 24th September 2021. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
I had misgivings about this gig even before I set foot in the Arena. Was this my instinctive dislike of the City of Manchester - the only place where I have been mugged at knifepoint - TWICE! Was it my worries about Phil's health? Whatever the reason, I took my seat with some trepidation.
My fears were soon justified as an 8PM start time dragged on until 8.30 when the promoter - John Giddings - finally had the courtesy to come on stage to inform us there was a technical problem which they were addressing and thanking us for our patience. Giddings was back onstage at 8.40PM to inform us that a generator had failed and a backup was on its way (where from? Harrods?!) and the show would begin at 9PM. 9PM came and went with nary a flicker of a lighting generator and it was eventually 9.12 PM when the intro music began and the band took to the stage.
By this time I had already calculated that I was destined to see only 40-45 minutes of the gig in order to avoid being stranded in Manchester for the night and so the evening had been ruined for me before it even began!
Anyway, the band began the gig with the same intro they used in 2007 before launching into Turn It On Again. Musically and visually this was a superb performance, the visuals worked so much better indoors. Young Mr Nicholas Collins set his stall out from the outset with some impressive drumming. His dad however, looked and sounded incredibly frail and as we moved into the next song; Mama, his voice faltered and had it not been for the presence of the two backing singers who did a magnificent job covering Phil's failings, we might not have had any vocals at all! Not that this seemed to bother the crowd who were in obvious paroxysms of delight!
Land Of Confusion replete with a brand new visual presentation - including topical references to Covid (I loved the flying toilet rolls!) was equally impressive musically and visually and equally disappointing vocally. At times Phil was obviously not even trying to sing, leaving that to the backing singers.
The final track I managed to catch before my time ran out was Home By The Sea prefaced by a somewhat rambling story from Phil. Once again, this was right on the money musically and visually neatly incorporating the original visual elements with new ones into a marvellous presentation. Once again however, Phil was definitely the weakest link, he could barely deliver the vocals to this one at all!
I left the Arena to the opening strains of Fading Lights - how apt eh? Disappointed? Absolutely! Angry? Yes, I had paid a LOT of money for this ticket and the fact that I - and a LOT of other equally disappointed fans who were on the same train home with me were equally angry and disappointed was not a good sign.
Treating fans in such a cavalier fashion speaks volumes for the way promoters and ticket agencies view fans these days. They make a fortune from unjustifiable "Service" charges and other fees and can't even work with venues and public transport to lay on a late train which was always the case in the past - not enough profit in it for them I guess?!
So, one part gig down, three more to come thankfully two of those in my own home town where I will finally get to see Genesis after a forty one year wait. Will they be worth it? I sincerely hope so, but after tonight's showing I will have to reserve judgement!