"Opening Night" - A review of the Genesis gig at the Sportshall Budapest, February 29, 1998. Review by Duncan Philips.

This story starts on the morning of Thursday January 28, 1998 in the small airport that is located on the outskirts of Budapest in Hungary. The temperature is about 0 degrees Celsius and we have just got off the British Airways flight from London... While standing in the queue at passport control, we look to our left and see Mike Rutherford standing in the queue beside us! After the initial feeling of "wow!" we pluck up the courage to go over and say "hello" and have a quick chat. We then get through baggage reclaim and see that Tony, Ray, Anthony and Nir are also standing around waiting for their bags. Also there was Tony Smith and a whole bunch of other people. We had obviously flown over on the same plane as Genesis, and hadn't even realised it! We went up and spoke to them all, it was quite a surreal moment to be talking to the band and in such relaxed and normal surroundings.

That night we went to the Sports Hall for the rehearsal for the opening night which was to be the following night. The Hall is about half the size of Earls Court in London and the stage was at one end but no Jumbotron screens were there. At about 7.50 the band came out onto the stage and started to check their instruments. Tony walked up to the lighting/sound desk and talked. Various road crew people wandered around and all the time we were expecting to be thrown out! The hall was totally empty except for the band, crew and nine fans! We were about to be given our very own private concert!

At about 8.10pm the hall lights dimmed and the familiar sound of "No Son Of Mine" started accompanied by a vivid strobe lighting effect. As each song progressed, the nine of us did our best to cheer and clap, and Ray laughed several times at our efforts to make some noise! It was quite a bizarre experience. The set list was: No Son Of Mine / Land Of Confusion / The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway / Calling All Stations / Hold On My Heart / Alien Afternoon / There Must be Some Other Way / Domino / Carpet Crawlers / Firth Of Fifth (instrumental) / Congo / Home By The Sea / Acoustic medley: Dancing With The Moonlit Knight - Follow You Follow me - Lover's Leap / Mama / The Dividing Line / Invisible Touch / Turn It On Again Encore: Throwing It All Away / I Can't Dance

The highlight of the show was definitely the acoustic set. I could have listened to this for hours. The guys sat in a semicircle of chairs in front of the drum kit and sang the three songs including Tony playing guitar! Nir did the backing vocals on "Follow You Follow Me" and the whole thing was just so relaxed. Also Ray sang "Mama" with such passion and power, I would go even so far as to say that he sang it better than I have ever seen Phil sing it!

Ray on stage in Budapest
(Photo - J. Guntrip)

Tony had a few problems with his keyboard sounds from time to time; Nir got a blister during the drum solo in "The Dividing Line", and played part of "Invisible Touch" one-handed, while a roadie fixed his hand. Mike seemed to be really enjoying himself and Anthony kept very quiet and just did what he had to! The opening night was a repeat of the rehearsal - just with another 3500 people in the hall! The band were given a good reception and any nerves that they may have had didn't show. I felt very privileged to have been at a full Genesis concert played to just nine fans, and to have been at the opening night of the tour.