“Fading Lights over Liverpool” - Genesis in concert at the M & S Arena Liverpool on Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th october 2021. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
It has been a LONG time, hasn't it? Indeed it has. Forty one years to be exact since Genesis last graced Liverpool with their presence. In the intervening years I have longed for a gig by the band in my home town and now, like buses, they turn up in twos! I am not complaining! After the farce of the Manchester gig which you can read about in our last issue, there was no way I was going to miss - generator failure or not - these two gigs. And walking home from them afterwards would be no bother at all!
The sense of foreboding I had had before that gig was nowhere to be seen as I took my rather excellent seats for the first of these brace of gigs. Emotions were high, however as I knew that these would be my only chance to see the band in my home town. At 8.10pm the house lights dimmed - no generator problems here - and the band emerged on stage to be greeted by a standing ovation from the entire crowd! I think they were slightly taken aback by the reaction, but Liverpool knows how to treat it's heroes. The show got under way with Dukes Intro leading into...well by now you all know what the set list was, so I shall concentrate on the parts of the show that made the biggest impression on me.
What was noticeable from the very beginning was how confident and strong Phil's voice sounded. This was a different man from the pale shadow I had seen for those forty or so minutes the week before. Perhaps the audience's reaction gave him the extra energy and impetus he needed. Whatever it was, Phil was in fine form. OK, he is a shadow of his former self, but Phil Collins at 50% is worth more than most at 100%. The band tore through Turn It On Again and Land Of Confusion which, with it's entirely new and highly appropriate visuals just gets better - those flying loo rolls still crack me up!
Mama and Home By The Sea were a real test of Phil's stamina and, despite some hesitancy, he gamely delivered on both of these classics. Visually too, both of them gained immensely from the totally new video set ups. It has to be said that the backing singers; Daniel Pearce and Patrick Smyth were the perfect foil to Phil and their presence actually augmented the songs rather than detracting from them.
Next up it was the moment in the show where I knew my resolve to keep a stiff upper lip would be tested to its limit: Fading Lights. Well, I ain't proud to admit that my resolve failed me entirely and I cried like a baby throughout it as well as the rest of the extended medley comprising Cinema Show and Afterglow. Visually and musically too, these were right on the money with some fine moments from Messrs Banks and Rurherford as well.
From high drama to low farce as we got a romping version of That's All but in a show packed with highlights the following acoustic setting of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and Follow You Follow Me also reduced me to tears. This was Genesis in excelsis as far as I was concerned and I was not alone as 12,000 Scousers cheered it to the rooftops!
Duchess has always been a favourite of mine and, like Fading Lights, has a somewhat poignant resonance at these gigs which are almost certainly the band's last in the UK. Another highlight was No Son Of Mine - a latter-day classic, spruced up and given some fantastic new visuals. Here, as elsewhere during the evening, young Mr Nicholas Collins stole the show. This young man is a phenomenal talent and he was taking no prisoners tonight!
Firth of Fifth and I Know What I Like featured the 12,000 strong Scouse choir with Phil as choirmaster grinning from ear to ear - hey, even Mr Banks was seen to smile at a few points during the evening.
Domino was another breathtaking effort. With a lighting rig that could move into many different configurations we were almost back in 1986/87 visually with a show that really beggared belief at times.
Throwing It All Away remains one of my least favourite Genesis songs - per break time as I call it and indeed, I took advantage of just that during it, but the crowd evidently loved it, so what do I know?
Given the limited abilities of Phil in the vocal department these days, the inclusion of both Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch, two of the most demanding songs in the entire Genesis canon from a vocalists' point of view was quite a surprise. It was here that the backing singers really came into their own, augmenting rather than overpowering Phil's surprisingly strong vocals. He was evidently having a great time on these two and of course, he had the help of that 12,000 strong Scouse Choir which was generating enough energy to power that faulty generator up the M62 without breaking sweat!
That brought the show to a suitably exhilarating conclusion but of course, we had the small matter of encores to deal with and with the drum machine pattern and stabbing riff of guitar heralding I Can't Dance which was greeted by another huge cheer from the crowd who were lapping this performance up. I admit this has never been among my favourite songs but tonight it was absolutely top notch with Phil gamely taking the piss out of himself in the lyrics and grinning from ear to ear.
Then we were back to the vintage stuff as the show was brought to a truly emotional close as Phil intoned "can you tell me where my country lies…" introduction to Dancing With The Moonlit Knight which in turn segued into a truly majestic Carpet Crawlers brining a year to many an eye - mine included!
And that was it for the evening. My emotions throughout were mixed as I am sure they were for the rest of the fans who witnessed this superb show. Excitement and joy that the band were finally back in town after so long, was tinged with sadness that we were witnessing the band's final swansong - but what a swansong!
Round two followed the next evening. Phil had evidently enjoyed his return to Liverpool and if he was in good form on the first night, he was in even better form tonight with plenty of on stage and audience banter throughout.
Once again the show was a rollercoaster of emotions; tears laughter all mixed together with the glorious music which has been the soundtrack to our lives. Once again there were certain tracks which really hit the spot for me. Fading Lights which, if I am honest, should have been performed as the finale of the show as it is the most appropriate one for this setting and reduced me to tears both nights. The medleys were superb, and once again I cried during several moments. Everybody was in top form and whilst it was a foul evening outside, inside the Arena it was simply beautiful.
Two nights which I have waited a lifetime for came and went far too quickly but, the memories will live forever and, as the song says…
"These are the days of our lives, so remember…"
Liverpool will always remember these gigs!