"A Pressing Conference " - Events leading up to the Genesis Press Conference, from the point of view of TWR Webmaster, Stuart Barnes.
After nearly 10 years of 'will they, won't they' it's finally been announced that Genesis will be touring again in 2007. Not a moment too soon, if you ask me! The biggest rumours started a few weeks ago when Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford got together in New York for 'a bit of a jam'. The event itself was not a massive secret, but once word had got out, the rumours and rumblings on the various official and unofficial fora began in earnest. Within days of the session ending an official announcement proclaimed that there would be a press conference on 7th November to announce something.
Shortly after that, the Genesis Forum crashed. Coincidence? Was it really a server problem, or was this a good way to clear out all the old messages from us loonies and set up a new, clean board that wouldn't be an embarassment when shown to record company officials? The timing of this was a little bit suspect, but even if it was planned, you can't really blame the powers that be for wanting a fresh start for the board, can you?
The return of the new improved Genesis Forum had the effect of uncorking a bottle of champagne that had been shaken vigourously for a few hours (those readers who can't afford champagne simply substitute the bottle for a can of beer; the effect is similar enough for the purposes of this description!!!). It appeared that absolutely everyone who has had anything to say on a forum in the past 5 years suddenly had to say it again. Rumours started. "Is it an album?", "Is it a tour?", etc. Speculation and heated debate over lineups and setlists filled the ether. Cross pollenation from one board to the next kept everyone informed, although not all the information gathered and disemenated was correct (a lot was heresay; x posting a message stating that they have heard from y who has said that z has said this will/won't be happening). There was an almost audible buzz on the official board. Well, there was one coming from my computer anyway. Maybe it was just a bad wiring......!
Imagine my reaction when I recived a call from HRH Hewitt on 2nd November telling me that TWR will be attending the press conference. Now imagine my reaction when he told me that I was going to be there as well (it's my story, I'll tell it how I want!). All I had to do now was wait.
Fast forward to the day of the press conference. I'd manage to borrow a decent camera from a friend for this event. I didn't want to chance having any pics I took turn out like the ones I took at the Mike & The Mechaics gig a few years ago! Alan and I turned up at the Mayfair Hotel in London in plenty of time. Whilst in the queue outside we met up with Andreas and Christian from IT magazone and Mario from Dusk, fellow fans from fansites. It was good to know that we were there to fly the flag for the fans. At about 1130, the doors opened and we all went through the 'check your name off the list before going in' fun and games before going downstairs into a basement area where we had to have our names checked again before going through to the hospitality area. Whilst at this second check we were asked to take a copy of the press releases and promo DVD on the table in front of us. Judging from recent auctions on eBay, some people took advantage of the lack of distribution control more than others. TWR has not and will not be putting any copies of this promo DVD on eBay or attempting to sell it any other way.
The hospitality area consisted of a coffee serving area and a standing area for us journalists. I do have to say that a lot of the press that were there looked like the sort of people that you wouldn't want to buy a second-hand car from. A friendly enough bunch, but you wouldn't want to stand between them and a good story or picture oppourtunity. A small PA had been set up playing the sound from the DVD on a repeat setting, with a couple of MAC250 lights beaming a gobo of the tour logo onto the walls around us.
Soon enough, we were called through to the main room, which looked like the hotel's private cinema; tiered seating and all. By sheer luck all three fan sites managed to get seats slap bang in the middle of the second row from the front. Result. Soon enough, the lights went down and the presentation started. This is now well documented and a visual record is available on-line on the official Genesis website. Suffice to say that I can be seen in several shots sitting in between Alan H and Mario Giametti.
Presentation over, we headed back to the hospitality area, stopping briefly to talk to Carol Willis on the way. I can't believe I've been working for TWR for as long as I have and I haven't so much as talked to Carol before. During our short conversation, I casually asked (as you do) if there would be a chance to take a few pics of the guys for the site. Her answer was a non-committal 'maybe if there is time at the end', but considering how busy everyone was that day no-one can blame her for that. Now on a mission of patience, we availed ourselves to the hospitality provided. Of course, by this time it was lunchtime, and the food provided reflected this. Finger food is the best way to describe this, but it was nice enough. The dessert sweets were very nice :-) With very little else to do but wait, we decided to play a game of 'Spot the TSPM employee'. I managed to get a Carol Willis, Tony Smith and Jo Greenwood. Alan got all of those and a Steve 'Pud' Jones. There he was minding his own business and Alan grabs him and asks for a photo with him. Steve obliged, although I don't think he knew what was happening and why.
During our time here, the other journalists would be called in to the interview room a few at a time to talk to the band and get some footage of the band for their employers. The hospitality room was gradually emptying out. All of us from TWR, IT and Dusk were still hanging around waiting for our chance to get a photo of the band. We took the chance to get a few photos of each other for our own records as well. During this time, we were informed that Phil had a plane to catch and would have to leave in a hurry and that hopefully there would be enough time for a few shots. More time passed and there were fewer and fewer of us left. Soon there was only us fans left. We countered any boredom experienced at this time by chatting to each other about various things; the supposed rivalry between us all (I saw no evidence of that) and other such war stories, none of which can be printed!
All of a sudden a door at the back of the room opened and Phil, dressed in a hat and coat walked purposefully out towards the stairs where we were waiting. He then proceeded to walk straight past us and out of the hotel! So much for a photo or two! Actually he did briefly slow down to say 'Hi Al, sorry I can't stop' before heading off.
Undeterred, we all figured that there was still 66.6% of the band left in the hotel and that maybe we could get a few words with them. Alas, we were thwarted here as well. By the time we had recovered from Phil's departure and gone to the interview room, Tony and Mike had left by another exit. A suspicious person would think that maybe they were avoiding us. In reality what happened was a communication breakdown. Despite talking to several of the publicity people, we obviously didn't talk to the right one; the one who could actually arrange things like photos, etc. It was obvious to us that our request didn't get to the right people and therefore no-one knew that we were waiting. As soon as the last interview had been done they left. C'est la vie. It happens. That's part of the game. This is proof that we don't always get what we ask for. Any disappointment felt was only mild, as I personally was still buzzing from having been in the presentation and sitting that close to the guys.
All in all it was a great experience and another one to tell the grandkids about.
Thanks to Carol Willis at TSPM for making this happen for TWR.