"Have drum kit will travel" - Face Value live at the Duke Hotel Barrow In Furness Saturday 18th March 2006. Review by Alan Hewitt.
Rumours had reached me that Face Value had recruited a drummer for the band. Having seen the band more times than I can comfortably count with the trio working so well, I was intrigued by this news and wondered if it were true and, if so, how well the "new boy" would fit in. Thanks to a kind invitation from the band, I was able to see for myself at their first gig with the new recruit.
The journey from Liverpool to Barrow is a LONG one but travelling with two members of the band, made short work of that, as the reminiscences of Genesis gigs past flowed along with a certain amount of abuse from one rather jealous vocalist! Having set up the expanded amount of stage gear, the band were soon ready for a sound check and it was here that the added edge which live drums give to their sound first became apparent. If the actual gig was to sound as good as the soundcheck then I was to be well pleased.
Retiring to partake of some long overdue food, it was soon time to take up my station and watch the proceedings. As has become standard procedure, they opened the show with a storming version of No Son Of Mine which was greatly augmented by the presence of Wrexham Thompson on drums - LIVE not Memorex! The band's stature has grown commensurately and it was marvellous to see them reinvigorated by the presence of this new member of the band.
Taking their live set from the more populist end of the band's back catalogue as well as the more familiar material from Phil's solo career has led to much criticism from the so-called "purist" Genesis fans. Well, as a fan of almost thirty years' standing myself, there is no doubting the excitement of much of the "classic" era material but, by the same token; there is also no doubting the same excitement is to be found in sterling performances of such well known tracks as In The Air Tonight, Mama and Abacab all of which were performed with gusto by the quartet. Will Smith's guitar solo on the former still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and Tony Cole's impeccable keyboard arpeggios during Mama and Afterglow accompanied by John Wilkinson's impassioned vocal delivery are hard to beat. Speaking of beating things; it was in tracks like this and also in the syncopated version of Follow You Follow Me that Wrex's percussive talents really came into their own.
Just to prove that the band were as capable of playing the "old stuff" too, they treated us to excellent renditions of Afterglow, Turn It On Again and I Know What I Like which blended seamlessly among the classic Collins cuts such as I Wish It Would Rain Down and Sussudio - this show really is a match made in heaven with the best elements from both Phil's band and solo work on show here.
What is even more remarkable is the fact that the band had had just one, yes ONE full rehearsal with Wrex before this gig! It is a testament to their professionalism that none of the audience were aware of that fact and they loved the show and the band themselves were more relaxed than I have seen them in ages and were visibly enjoying themselves too. With the rest of Phil and the band's repertoire now virtually an open book to the band, I am sure that there will be many more excellent nights of music from this extraordinary group of musicians - well played, guys!