The Keith McMillan Memorial Benefit Gig – April 19th 2007. Review by Rachel Powell.

Firstly, I want to start with how this Keith McMillan Memorial Benefit Gig came about. Around the middle of December 2006, Rosie (Keith’s widow) posted the news of Keith’s diagnosis and of course everyone on Krissy’s forum were saddened by this, and so Sue Heather (Chocolate Surprise) and my dad Kev Powell (Mighty Mellotron) began plotting to come up with some idea to raise money.

To cut the story short, there were plans for the forumites to club together so Rosie could go see Genesis at Twickenham in July. But Keith sadly passed away on January 12th 2007, which altered the plans entirely when another plan emerged, which was to ‘gate-crash’ a Genesis tribute gig and hold a small auction. But, after much discussion, that plan escalated into having a night dedicated to raising money for the hospice that cared for Keith and also for Cancer Research, then after recruiting John Vincent (a fantastic Peter Gabriel look-a-like and sound-a-like!) and Face Value (superb Phil Collins and Genesis tribute band) and booking the venue (BIG thank you to the Cats Bar in Middlewich)… the Keith Memorial Benefit Gig was born!

On the night, the night kicked off with ‘thank yous’ from my dad, the master of ceremonies for the night, Jo (JC4, a former cancer sufferer), the glamourous assistant and of course Rosie (Rosie Mc), which brought many tears to the eyes of everyone attending…including me! What was also a very pleasant surprise to many was that Steve Hackett’s brother, John, also attended. Before the first auction, my friend and I were selling raffle tickets, and if I remember correctly, the raffle made around £172 alone. Even one person bought £40 worth!

The first auction of memorabilia followed with everyone reaching deep into their pockets to grab a piece of Genesis history!
Then followed by an acoustic set consisting of Peter Gabriel / Genesis numbers from John Vincent (it was his birthday that day!), which unfortunately, I missed because I was busy doing my bit by folding raffle tickets ready for later on. But from what I could hear, the set was fantastic!
The main auction followed, with furious competition on many items, all donated kindly by forumites and Genesis band members, past and present. The highlight was the bid on the A Trick of the Tail jacket (which raised around £350, well done Choccie Surprise!) and the Steve Hackett prints donated by Steve’s wife, Kim Poor (many thanks). I was very pleased that I managed to acquire a Phil Collins concert programme (1982), some Genesis postcards and badges and the A Trick of the Tail T-shirt (with a little help from my mother!). What pleased me most about it was that people were willing to part with much of their hard-earned cash for such a worthy cause, regardless of the cost.

Then Face Value kicked off their part of the evening with Land Of Confusion, setting everyone up for a stunning show of wonderful music. I forget the order of songs so bear with me! However the highlights for me include the ‘epics’ of a very emotional Fading Lights, sinister Home by the Sea and simply majestic Domino, superbly performed…as usual! I had brought my school friend along since she wanted to help out, yet, I don’t think that she was prepared for the intensity of Mama! Not to mention the laugh!
I think that the highlights for many was Carpet Crawl, which is Rosie’s favourite and the band willingly learnt the song especially for her, after the Mellotrons and Chocolate Surprises got to see a sneak preview earlier that month! Definitely a rousing number for most of the crowd, the sound of Genesis fans singing Carpet Crawl in unison was overwhelming.

But the biggest highlight, I think, for everyone was Afterglow. This was Keith’s favourite Genesis song and was played at his funeral. I don’t think that there was a dry eye in the building, many were reduced to floods of tears, including myself and my dad. What got me was that little Joe (Keith’s son) was at the front of the crowd and the song reduced him to tears, I think that was overwhelming to him as well as to everyone present. A truly emotional and magical moment that I am happy I was there to witness.
The set ended with the encores of I Know What I Like, featuring a duet of the two Johns! It definitely had the crowd on its feet, the sound of fans singing was deafening, not that I was complaining! Then followed by Take Me Home, considering the set was all Genesis, it seemed unusual to end it with a Phil song, but somehow, it seemed relevant and had everyone singing their hearts out for the last time. Not many throats survived that night! Thanks to you guys! Anyone who has not seen Face Value, please go because they are a fantastic band! Here I go, shamelessly promoting, naughty me!

The night ended with the raffle, which Rosie’s offspring managed to win on numerous occasions! What was touching was that Joe gave a small thank you speech at the end of the raffle, after such an emotional night. Again, quite a few tears were shed. What a little star that young man is! And credit to Little John coming from Canada as well as SuperTed coming over from Ireland, thanks! That means a lot to everyone involved.

A very emotional evening that raised nearly £4000! It was amazing how these people made so much money…and so much noise! However, it is disappointing that Sue and Kev should not have had to organise such an event in the first place. Yet, they deserve the most praise for putting in so much hard work. What matters most is that Keith was remembered in a very unique way that raised money for such an important cause that affects everyone in some way. Hopefully, something like this should not happen again, even though it was an extraordinary night.

To end, I’d like to quote Afterglow for Rosie to Keith:

I would search everywhere
Just to hear your call,
And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.
I miss you more.

R.I.P Keith McMillan