"Two down, one to go" - The third and final TWR tour report with photos by Stuart Barnes. All photos S Barnes/TWR unless stated otherwise. Get comforatble...!
OK, let's start at the beginning...
I only saw Genesis twice in 1992, so I was determined that next time they toured with Phil, I would get to a few more gigs...
Back in November 2006, when Genesis announced their European schedule, Alan and I were in Anthony's kitchen looking at a map of europe and trying to work out how we could get to see as many gigs as possible. It was a given that we were going to both of the UK gigs, which gave an indication of which other gigs we were going to. The thing that swung it all the way was the fact that Anthony and I both work full time and therefore can't take all that much time off work in one go. OK, money was another issue; with ticket prices what they are, lot of gigs = lots of money. We looked at the gigs in the week preceeding the UK ones. That was Paris, Amsterdam and Germany. Looking at the logistics, Paris and Amsterdam weren't all that practical to get to and from. That left three dates in Germany on consecutive days, with a day off before the UK dates. That was it settled then. All I had to do then was talk to the wife...
When she eventually calmed down, she agreed that Paris and Amsterdam were not
practical. "How much?", was the phrase she seemed to use a lot during
this time. Needless to say, I had to buy my freedom pass with shoes, dinners
at restaurants, etc. This tour has cost me much more than simple travel, accomodation
and gig tickets. The pre-sale of the tickets went remarkably well. Anthony managed
to secure the bulk of the tickets without any problems. Those he didn't buy,
I did. Again no problems with the purchase. The quality of the seating of the
tickets bought I'll discuss later...
We then set out arranging travel and accomodation in Europe. Anthony did the travel, I did the accomodation.
So, background explained, here is my own tour diary:
May 2007 - London
Receive a phonecall from Alan asking me if I want to go to the Brussels rehearsal. He has managed to secure two places. Without even checking my diary, I said yes. Book the Eurostar tickets immediately. Dance around the house with joy! Wife tells me to grow up! Shortly thereafter Anthony phones me to tell me how gutted he is that he isn't going.
Monday 4th June - London -> Brussels
Wake up at the crack of dawn and get the train to Waterloo International in order to get the Eurostar.
Unknown to Alan, Anthony had managed to secure his own invitiation to the rehearsal and was on the same train as us, but in a different carriage. Anthony had phoned me the day before to tell me that he was going, and I managed to stop him from calling Alan. Only he and I knew that he was going; the idea being to surprise Alan on the train.
Anthony and I kept in constant text contact in order to make sure that Alan didn't see him in the departure lounge; even to the extent of advising which coffee bar to avoid! The train departs on time and we head off towards the coast. Once we had passed through the Channel Tunnel, I told Alan I was going to stretch my legs. I did. I went to get Anthony. Naturally, he was sat at the opposite end of the train to us. Eurostar trains are a quarter of a mile long! I walked all the way down, got Anthony and walked all the way back. It was worth the effort though, as the look on Alan's face when Anthony tapped him on the shoulder and said "Alright, squire!", was an absolute picture and well worth the effort it took to co-ordinate!
|Arrive in Brussels about 11.30am. No time for lunch. We make
our way to the Metro system to get to the Expo Centre, which, ironically
enough (with Alan hailing from Liverpool) is over the road from the Heissel
Stadium and the 'Atom' building that is a well known landmark (I forget
Hanging around outside the venue, Alan is approached by a woman who recognises him. She isn't on the invite list but she tells us that she is hopeful she can either get a glimpse of the guys on their way in or can talk her way in. The longer we hang around, the more people turn up in taxis and end up standing about the place looking hopeful...
Dale Newman makes an appearance and comes over to have a quick chat. He's
well trained, though. He gave nothing away, except to advise us to sit as far
back as possible, as that's where we will get the best view from...
Soon enough, one of the organisers turns up and we begin to file past security, having our names checked off against the list of invitees.
Once most of us are through the main gate, we are all escorted to the hall. Somehow, Alan and I ended up right behind the guy leading everyone. I don't think I've ever seen Alan walk so fast! On entering the venue, the guy points and says 'There you go; have a seat' or words to that effect. Being right at the front of the line of people going in, Alan walks straight to the front row and proceeds to walk to the middle of it. Front row, centre. Perfect. Sorry Dale, but when you're a fan, proximity to the stage is more desireable to quality of sound/vision!
As there is about half an hour before showtime to go, I
have a quick walk around to the sound desk. Spoke to Nick Davis and asked
him for an interview, which he agreed to do 'on the road'. He gave me
contact details and we had a quick chat about the production and his thoughts
on the upcoming cinema broadcast. The full interview is elsewhere in this
Having been warned in advance that cameras and other such recording equipment
was not welcome at the rehearsal, I opted to leave my camera at home.
Next up was the speculation over what the opening number would be. Bearing in mind that the previous tours had started with a track from the album preceeding the one being promoted, we couldn't seem to agree that anything from We Can't Dance would be the opener. Other obvious ones such as Mama and Abacab were also on the 'no' list. Alan then touted 11th Earl Of Mar. Anthony countered with a Dancing On A Volcano. Suffice to say that we had absolutely no idea what the opening song would be.
Image the reaction when the band took to the stage and hit the opening chord
of Duke's Intro. Fantastic choice. An idyllic theme from an era of the band
referred to by many fans as Genesis in their 'heyday'. The sound was very much
'in your face', although not too loud. There were only a few hundred people
in the audience and we were all close to the stage. The sound for the whole
gig was very good, as well. Next up were the lights. This is the way to do a
light show. The band don't tip their hand too early, only showing small things
and building to bigger things; Duke's Intro had an all white backdrop with no
visuals, and each following song showed a bit more of what the 9 million LED
backdrop could do. Duke's Intro segued into Turn It On Again, which was unusual,
as that is what normally closes the show. Phil then introduces No Son Of Mine
by saying that this is a rehearsal and that if anything goes wrong, they will
stop and wait for it to be fixed before carrying on. The lighting certainly
set the mood for this one. The backdrop showed ticking clocks on a mainly blue
background followed by slow, subtle colour changes.
Land Of Confusion was next and the screens had the Spitting Image faces on either side of the stage and simple coloured lighting effects (OK, there was a flame type effect on the screen as well). In The Cage was the first real use of animation in the show. The visuals for this song were incredible. Starting with floating red lines in a random order, they line up like the bars on a cage. Then a computer generated man appears, running, looking for a way out. Excellent stuff.
By this point, my camera is out and I'm snapping away like a mad thing. Every song is a highlight, building more and more on the energy from the song before it, with the exception of Hold On My Heart. It's a good song, but not one that would have been on my first list of songs to perform, had I been asked to write the set list. However, the reasons for doing it are valid enough. After playing In The Cage/Afterglow for nearly 20 minutes, the band needs to mentally calm down and refocus.
Phil then proceeds to introduce the next song by saying that he hasn't written
an introduction yet, but it will be a witty one! And so begins Home By The Sea.
This version of the song is amazing to watch live. The visuals include some of the ghosts seen on the We Can't Dance Tour 15 years ago, but with some updates. The instrumental section (Second Home By The Sea) has a relatively simple light show until the heavy guitar section at the end, where an additional section to the stage becomes apparent. Rising from behind the stage, on the 7 large pylons are 7 pairs of red eyes accompanied by pairs of searchlights (in pairs, like car headlights). Words fail to do this bit justice. It is a very fitting effect to accompany the music. Put simply, it's incredible.
The next highlight for me is Follow You Follow Me. Phil playing drums and singing this one is a treat. Knowing first hand how much of a challenge it is to play an instrument and sing at the same time, it was incredible that he didn't mess up. The visuals on this song are perfect. The various characters from the album covers all wolking along in time with the music are brilliant, especially Albert. I just love the way he lumbers from side to side as he walks along. Cynthia with the mallet knocking Henry's head around was quite amusing as well. Also near the beginning of the song, we see the father figure from the We Can't Dance cover walking up a hill that then stopping at the top and reaching up to 'touch' one of the lights. As he does so, that one light changes from purple (as the rest of them are) and goes white. It stays like that until the end of the song, when the father walks back up the hill and touches the light again to switch it off. Fantastic!
Phil stays behind his drum kit and Firth Of Fifth follows giving Daryl a chance to step into the spotlight for a blinding rendition of the solo. As he has said himself, he gives it his own slant, but he knows there are key phrases that must be kept. No disappointments on that front. Segue into I Know What I Like and the backdrop scrolls through a history of the band, including some embarassing photos of all band members through the ages. Phil does his tambourine tarantella and seems on fine form for someone in his mid-fifties, and then has some fun playing with the crowd.
Next up is Mama. This is one of the best live versions the band has done, ever. Once you get over the key change (sorry guys, but it is noticable), the music combined with the 'red light district' lighting give the song a powerful atmosphere. We all know how this song goes, so we expect a huge climax near the end of the song, however, the build up to this was both subtle and amazing at the same time. During the "Can't you see me here Mama, section" with the big Prophet 10 chords, grey netting was raised behind the stage. This netting was stretched between the main lighting pylons and lit with red lighting. By the time the drums came in, the nets were all the way up. Just when you thought the show couldn't get any bigger, a strobe effect lit up the back of the stage area like lightning in time with the 'power tom' drum fills.
|With a song as big and powerful as Mama, how on Earth can the band follow it? Simple, play a '70's classic. Ripples fits the bill here and gets a big cheer, as the band quieten things down with a subtle blend of acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and drums. Despite the song being over 30 years old, the band manage to keep to the original arrangement as much as possible and resist the urge to 'modern it up' with drum loops and samples. Simple and effective. The forest visuals complement the song well, especially when the colours invert for the solo section.|
Audience participation time follows with Throwing It All Away, although this
time, it's done with a twist. The cameras on the stage are turned round to the
crowd and during the song, close ups of individual fans are shown on the screen.
This didn't really work in the confines of a rehearsal, but out on tour, the
amusement comes from seeing the reactions when these people see themselves on
screen. Some laugh, some go mad and others, don't seem to notice until the person
next to them elbows them and they look forward and realise what is happening.
Of course by this time, the screen has cut to someone else.
Domino was next. This is probably the best live version the band has ever done. The screens work overtime on this song, providing a flythrough of what looks like a city full of skyscrapers only to reveal that they are dominos. One other thing worth mentioning in this song is the bass. In the "Can't you see what you are doing to me" section. When the orch stabs happen, there is a very loud bass sound as Daryl hits a note and then lets his hand slide down the fretboard. This one sound has to be the deepest bass sound I have felt at any gig. Not heard. Felt. That one note really shifts some air. The song progresses into The Last Domino as the visuals show a vortex on the screen giving the impression of movement and drawing the viewer into the screen. Very Doctor Who! Phils vocals start, but he is nowhere to be seen. Phils head appears floating in the middle of the vortex on the screen. Eery, but effective. Phil goes for a short walk to the sides of the stage and end up back at the keyboards. He leans on the large rack next to Tony, as Mike and Daryl come over as well. It looked quite amusing in the rehearsal, as it seemed to be a spontaneous thing, however the amusement factor waned with each night on the tour, as it was done with disturbing regularity. As the song winds up to its conclusion, the screen visuals show falling dominos and the strobe lightning effect, used in Mama accompanies the drums fills, adding to the visual and aural chaos.
The stage goes dark for the next song. Phil and Chester stand facing each other between the two drum kits and start 'playing' two metal chairs with their drumsticks. To an uneducated concert goer, this may seem very pretentious, but the reality of it makes for a good explanation. In the Visible Touch documentory Phil explains that when he and Chester came to writing the drum duets, they would sit opposite each in a hotel room, with a chair between them and play the chair. The drum duet on this tour takes that one step further by putting the chairs on stage so that we can see and hear this for real. As the duet progresses, Phil gradually makes his way across to his drum kit. Chester soon does the same and a proper two kit drum duet starts. To paraphrase Mike Rutherford, "you forget what a racket two drum kits can make!". Indeed, but the sound of these two kits being played by seasoned pros is definately 'a joyful noise'!
There's really only one way to end the drum duet and that's with Los Endos. The band don't disappoint on that front, and they proceed to play one of the best live versions of the song that I've ever heard. The visuals on this one are fairly plain, just colour washes and a background 'flame' effect on the screen, however it's the music that does the talking. I don't think I know of any other band that can hold the last chord of a song for 30 seconds and still keep an audience on the edge of their seat at the same time!
Back in 1987 that would have been the end of the show, but not it 2007. A familar drum loop starts Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and the stage goes dark to reveal a city backdrop complete with apartments that look like they are being lived in. Watching carefully, the lights in the apartment block on the screen go on and off seemingly randomly. When they played this during the rehearsal, I can remember using all my willpower to get the band to play the full version of the song. Sadly, they only got as far as the "I got some money in my pocket" section before seguing into Invisible Touch. Oh well, maybe next time! As soon as the opening chords of invisible Touch started playing, the whole crowd stood up to join the party.
The band leave the stage and let the audience cheer away for a few minutes
before a roadie appears at the keyboard rig to press the button that starts
the drum machine for I Can't Dance. The screens at the side of the stage show
a LED level meter peaking in time with the drums. Well, I suppose it's in time.
We're so far away from the stage that it's not, but never mind...
Tony makes his way back to his keyboards and starts playing the percussion for the intro to the song. The rest of the guys then re-appear and Mike starts the familiar guitar riff. The backdrop shows the familar figures of the five band members doing 'the walk', silhouetted in white. Phil does his strongman impression in the middle sections, although with the faces he pulls, he would be better placed in a laxative commercial (Constipated? You need MEGA-LAX....!!!!!). As the drums come in, the white figures on the stage are replaced with brightly coloured ones. The backdrop becomes a rainbow of colour as Phil, Mike and Daryl go for a 'walk' around the stage. The song ends and we are all left wondering how the band will finish the evening. After all, they played Turn It On Again at the start of the show.
Phil talks very softly and thanks us all for coming and introduces the next song as 'something special' to them. Carpet Crawlers. Whilst this might not be the most up-tempo of songs, it really is something special, as the whole crowd goes quiet to listen. This version of the song is up to date. There are even elements of the 1999 version in it; noteably the drums stopping for one line of the chorus near the end. Nice touch. Whilst it is unusual to bring the crowd 'down' at the end of the gig, the band certainly left us all wanting more. The band then stood together to take their bows and then they left the stage.
What can I say about the rehearsal that hasn't already been said? Fantastic
seats. Great sound. A personal experience worth remembering. During the show,
it was great to watch the guys playing. Several times during the show, I caught
Mike look over in our direction to try to gauge the reaction on our faces. Given
the setlist, I think they got it just about right. Still no Supper's Ready though....!
Two and a half hours later, it was all over. On the way out, Maria from the website collared Alan and got him to say a few words on camera about the show. I've no idea where that will end up, but Alan seemed flattered enough.
We then head back to the station and find a bar. Several beers later we discuss
the merits of the show and the choices of the gigs that we are going to.
Still no real chance to eat yet so we decide to eat on the train home...
Stop off at a gift shop on the way to the Eurostar terminal and pick up a few things for the wife and kids. Belgain chocolate mainly...
Finally eat on the train. It's actually a decent meal. Much better than airline food.
Roll up at home at about 11pm, completely knackered.
Wednesday - 27th June - Croydon, UK
Croydon isn't exactly known for its music scene ( there's The Cartoon, but that's about it), but nevertheless, it was here that I saw Genesis for the first proper gig of the 2007 tour. OK, so the band were actually playing in Dusseldorf that evening, but due to the magic of technology, this gig was being broadcast to the Vue chain of cinemas in the UK, a first in broadcasting history, I am led to believe. Anthony arrived at the venue to be confronted by a queue of people waiting to get in to the screen. Either that or there was an old rockers' convention happening nearby. The long greying hair, jeans and faded Grateful Dead T-shirts were a dead giveaway, and that was just the staff!
After buying the obligatory popcorn (that's how cinemas make their money. You don't really think it costs £7.50 to make a regular popcorn, do you?), we settled down for the show. Opening with a rather amusing interview with Phil, Mike and Tony, we were soon treated to a sweeping opening shot of the show intro.
Then the music started. On the opening note of Duke's Intro, the LED screen behind the band came to life, shining white, illumintaing the stage and providing the cinema-goers with a first look at the quality of the picture we would be looking at for the next two and a half hours. Incredible doesn't come close. HD TV looks good close up, but imagine a screen 10ft high with the same quality image. Amazing. Also, the sound was brilliant. Nick Davis certainly did the band proud with his 5.1 mix. The only thing I can say against it is that I wish he would be more adventurous with the rear speakers. The only time they really came into play was for the arpeggio'd keyboard sound in Duke's Travels, just before Afterglow. Although, despite that, all the right boxes were ticked. The bass was tight and loud enough to feel as well as hear, and the vocals cut through the mix perfectly, and the crowd were audible in only the right places. It's just sad that a fold-down of Nick's mix wasn't used for the Encore CD instead of the reverb clouded mush that was released instead. Oh well.
This is a great way to see a gig. Comfortable seats, each one with a great view (no restricted view nonsense), awesome sound, no drunks or 'prawn sandwich brigade' and, best of all, no singing from the people in the immediate vicinity. Strange but true. The mentality of people when they are in a cinema is totally different to that of a gig. In a cinema, you are supposed to stay quiet, and that's what everyone did. Saying that, we all got involved in the audience particpation! Oh, and popcorn. Can't forget that!
All in all, an interesting way to see the band, and one I would gladly pay to go to again (only £15 compared to £73 for Twickenham), and gladly recommend to friends. Now, if only the video for that night was going to be made available on an official DVD...
Monday 2nd July - UK
Owing to recent events at Glasgow Airport, security at all other UK airports has been tightened. It's always the few that spoil things for the many. Thanks, whatever organisation planned that one! I end up spending the afternoon at Anthony's looking at bus schedules trying to figure out the best way to get to Heathrow for 5.30am the next day. Anthony, having further to come that me has to try to figure out where he is going to park his car for a few days. Decide to take hand luggage only so that there is no wait at the other end. Phone up Old Trafford and order a car park pass for the Manchester gig, which should arrive whilst I am in Germany. Get printout of plane ticket online. It's a boarding pass as well, apparently. Pick Alan up from the station. He spends the night at my place.
Tuesday 3rd July - UK -> Berlin
Get up at 4am. Get the bus to Heathrow at 5am. Thankfully there are several routes that we can take to Heathrow from my house, some of which are covered by a 24 hour bus service. Public transport in London isn't as bad as some people make out it is. Arrive at Heathrow at 5.45am. Anthony is already here and has gone through security. Queue up at check-in. After 5 mins in the queue, I grab a passing airline rep and show him my ticket. He politely explains that it's actually our boarding card and that we're already checked in and that we can go straight to the security check. We queue up for our bag check. Alan goes through without any problems. I set off the alarm and proceed to get a more thorough check. Turns out it was only my belt buckle and that the KY jelly and rubber gloves needn't be brought out! Once airside, I buy a few liquids at Boots (deodourant, etc; the stuff they won't let you take through security) and resist the temptation to buy a new camera in the Duty Free shops. Meet up with Anthony and we head to the departure lounge. Whilst there we observe a fellow passenger trying to use one of the nearby vending machines. This particular machine is marked clearly "OUT OF ORDER" and even has the coin slots blocked. This doesn't stop the guy. He wants his chocolate. He manages to put his coins into the machine and then seems most put out that it refuses to vend. We all watch most amused as the guy proceeds to attempt to get his money and/or the goods back by, er, percussive persuasion methods. Thumping the machine from the front didn't work, so he tries, albeit discreetly to bang the Hell out of the side of the machine, all to no avail. Maybe it was a language thing. Oh well. Entertainment over, we get called on to the plane. The flight over was smooth and uneventful, marred only by the appearance of breakfast. Superhot coffee and a bacon roll with all the weight and tactile consistancy of a housebrick. Yum!
Berlin Airport is very much like every other airport on the planet. A dull, faceless environment with the sole purpose of providing a gateway for travellers to other destinations. People are not supposed to spend long periods of time in these places. Thankfully we didn't. On making our way out from Customs, we then went in search of local information and directions to our hotel. Anthony approaches the Airport Information counter. "Sprechen Sie English, bitte?" seemed to be a phrase used a lot during this trip. On asking how to get to our hotel, we were directed to the Travel Information counter. Apparently this counter only provides information about the airport...
Thankfully the next counter was more helpful. Not only did we get the information we wanted, we were able to get maps and travelcards as well. We were directed to a bus waiting outside which took us to the S-Bahn station. It funny the things you don't notice until you are in a foreign country. Immediately I noticed that the trains here ran on the right, the same way the cars do. Anyway, a 20 minute train ride later and we are at the stop for our hotel. We get off, cross the road (always look both ways before crossing; doubly important when the traffic is coming from the opposite direction you normally expect it to) and make our way to the Holiday Inn. We check in. Due to the spelling of his surname, Alan kept being referred to as Mr Hayvitt. Always good for a giggle! Alan is informed that his room isn't ready, so he dumps his bags in Anthony's room. I go into my room and am greeted by the TV with a message on the screen "Welcome Stuart Barnes". Cute. Actually, this was quite a spacious room for a hotel. We all meet up downstairs a short while later and we head off for some sightseeing. It is only midday after all. I stop at a shop to buy some batteries for my camera. Nothing special, just some AA's. Everyone sells them. I get two packs of Phillips green brand and immediately put one set in my camera. At least I've heard of the manufacturer.
|We hit the U-Bahn and head off to Unter Den Linden station. From there it's just a short walk to the Brandenburg gate. We get a few pics here and then walk around the corner to the parliament building for a few more pics. I've taken about half a dozen pics by this point. It is at this point that I try to take a seventh shot. I say try, because it is at this point that the batteries die. Six shots in the space of 15 mins. Must have been a dodgy set. Oh well, I have a spare pack. I put them in and we wander off over the river to the Hauptbahnhof, or the main rail station. This is a new looking building, with a lot of glass panelling. Think of the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo on a grander scale and with more style and you'll almost be there. Here, the main North/South rail link goes through the city. Lunch consisted of trying to locate somewhere suitable in or around the station. Thankfully, there was a bar with a veranda just outside. Beer was the first order. Three steins. A stein is a litre. That's two pints! Nice. I went to take a photo and the second set of batteries I'd got earlier decided to die. Grrrr!|
One very nice meal later, we hit the ticket office to get the tickets to Leipzig and Frankfurt in order to save time in the morning. This (only) took half an hour due to the relative complexity of needing to take a journey to Frankfurt via Leipzig over two days and the language barrier. Once this was done we took stock of the situation. We were a fair way towards where we needed to be that night (the Olympiastadion) and too far from the hotel to be worth going back. A quick stop at the chemist in the station later (for more batteries, I hasten to add) we decided to jump on one of the many tourist busses pottering about the city. This is a great way to see the sights if you are in a hurry. Too many sights to list but is was the usual ones; Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin Zoo, etc, etc. Lots of photos taken. No more dead batteries; yet. The tour goes on. And on. And on. I'm sorry to say, it did get a bit boring after a while. It's just that once you've seen one foreign embassy, you've pretty much seen them all. The problem was that on this tour, we were seeing them all. Then the weather turned for the worse. We passed the hotel where Michael Jackson held his baby out over the balcony to photograhers, the square where Hitler ordered the burning of the 20,000 books, and the square with the memorial to the holocuast (not all that far from the site where Hitler's bunker was located; no memorial there, just what looks like a council estate). Of course, being 5pm by now, it's rush hour. The bus slows down to a crawl and we all start to get concerned about how long it will take us to get back to the main station. Thankfully it didn't take that long.
Turning a corner and passing the kids nursery (affectionately known as "Dolly
Parton" due to the shape of it's two roof(s)) ,we end up back at the station
in time to get the train to the stadium. Arriving at the stadium station, we
follow the crowd to the stadium. This was the same stadium that Jesse Owens
caused controversary at back in the 1930's. On entry, there is no bag check.
Anthony is grateful, as his Digital SLR camera is just the sort of thing that
would be searched for at an occasion such as this. More on that in tomorrow's
episode. We check out the merch stand and get ourselves a beer. These came in
tour cups that were also being sold in a pack on the merch stand. Buy the beer
and you get to keep the cup. It also keeps litter to a minimum. Good call. There
were three designs to collect and we chose to collect these over the three nights
we were here rather than to try to get them all on the one night! Of course,
by this point it was raining again. I will admit that it was at this point that
I almost spent 60 Euros on the tour fleece with the hood just to keep dry. Common
sense prevailed and I opted for one of the infinately cheaper emergency rain
coats at 5 Euros. Of course, by now it wasn't raining!
We make our way to our seats. For this gig we were at the very back of the stadium, about a third of the way up from the floor and slightly to one side. We had a very good view of the whole stage, only slightly obstructed by one of the delay towers. I took a few shots with my camera to get a feel for it and the venue. The viewscreen on it wasn't all that clear, so I decided to go for it and take as many shots as I could and worry about how many came out bad later on. One thing I have learned with concert photography is that the more pics you take, the better your chances are that you get some good shots. If you take 10 shots and only 3 are in focus, you have a 70% failure rate. If you take 300 shots with the same failure rate, you still have 90 good ones. Camera memory is now cheap enough to enable you to do this. My memory card could hold over 1200 pics, so I felt that I could be trigger happy and not worry about space. All I had to do was worry about how long the batteries would last...
The show started at 8.15pm with 'Duke'. The volume was nice and loud, but it was a bit vague. Not every instrument could be heard clearly and the visual delay between the video screens and the sound we could hear was annoying (I know there's nothing that can be done about that sort of thing, but it's still annoying). However, from this far back, we could see the whole stage and light show and appreciate the full spectacle. Apart from the usual to-ing and fro-ing by the less ardent fans during either the quiet songs or instrumentals, the audience was well behaved and clearly up for a great concert. Sitting as far back as we were, we could see a lot more of the whole picture than we saw at the rehearsal. The light show is amazing.
The set gets as far as Invisble Touch and then the inevitable happens...
All around the stadium there were shouts of "I know this one" from wives and girlfriends to their other halves who had dragged them along to the gig. Whilst not exactly a favourite with the 'older' fans, the song certainly injected a bit of life into the proceedings. Even the band got involved with the dancing, with Phil, Mike and Daryl pogo-ing away in the instumental section. As the song finished, the whole stage exploded with fireworks, providing a perfect climax to the end of the show.
See above for the set list. Show over, the house lights went up and the mass exodus started. Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We walked to the train station and were on a train within 15 minutes and back at the hotel within another 30. Certainly, Wembley Stadium is very lacking in this department. Luckily, we managed to get back to the hotel bar in time for 'last orders'. :-)
Wednesday 4th July Berlin -> Leipzig
Up early for breakfast. As it's included in the price of the room, we decide to fill up, as we don't know how much time we'll have to eat later.
Mmm... contintental breakfast...
|A short train ride to the HauptBahnhof later and we are standing
on the platform waiting for our train to Leipzig. Alan bumps into a few
friends. The train arrives and we get on. Unfortunately we misread our seat
allocations and found that we had been standing at the wrong end of the
A comfortable couple of hours on the train follows, complete with a short nap!
As we get off the train in Leipzig, Alan bumps into another couple of friends.
We exit the station and find the hotel. It's over the road to the station, literally opposite. Mr Accomodation scores!!!
We check in and find that Mr Hayvitt's room isn't ready here either. A quick check of a map shows that we are also only a 15 minute walk from the stadium.
It being lunchtime, we decide to explore the town and find somewhere to eat.
We ended up in a square with a church at one end (St Thomas' I seem to recall)
eating and watching the locals go by.
I floated the hypothesis that there isn't a German woman under 40 that is ugly. Certainly, no-one we saw on the entire trip, that came undet that category disproved the idea!
As we were sitting in the sunshine, enjoying the local bier, the sky clouded over considerably. Inevitably it started to rain. Light at first, so we go for a walk.
Then there is a loud clap of thunder. Given the time of day and the thunder, it was reasonable to assume that Genesis were onstage soundchecking at that time!
As the rain got heavier we decide to take shelter in a local ice-cream parlour. Quickly we decide that it would be rude to just have a coffee, so we take the plunge and opt for some ice-cream. With the exception of a small Italian owned ice-cream parlour near Margate in Kent, this would have to be the best ice-cream I've ever had. We have the weather to that for that!
Back to the hotel for a couple of hours sleep before the gig. We head off at about 6.30 and walk to the stadium. It literally was only 15 minutes away. Arriving at the stadium, we were confronted by steps. Lots of them. We had to climb up to get to the ticket check and bag check. Some checking. Anthony took his coat off and put his SLR camera underneath. No-one saw it. More stairs followed, although some of these were down.
Arriving inside the arena it appeared as if we were coming in from behind the stage. We found our way to the bar and then to our seats, and some mild disappointment. Not only were we in the upper seated area, but we were virtually side on to the stage. I say mild disappointment, because by that time, we had already seen the show at least three times each from different angles. This was another different angle. Although, if this was to be my only gig of the tour, I would be sorely disappointed with the allocation of these seats, especially as they were obtained during the pre-sale. What was the promoter thinking (apart from, money, money, money...)? The sound was better, as we were closer to the main speaker stack, but the visuals were awful. We could only see one side of the screen, and with the way that it curved inwards in the middle, we say none of the main screen show. The only thing that was interesting to see was the way the backstage area was lit up during the lightning effects in Mama and Domino. I did manage to get some good pics, notable a sneaky one of what looks like Mike Rutherford hanging around backstage a few minutes before showtime.
The only incident during this show worth mentioning was of our own making and
it was during Domino. I had taken about 200 photos by that time and was happily
snapping away. Anthony was doing the same with his SLR. Very sneakily, whilst
we were watching the show, two stewards had come to stand at the balcony rails
5 rows in front and were looking at the crowd, watching for bootleggers, and
other nasty individuals. All of a sudden, one of them comes up to our row and
taps Anthony on the shoulder and motions to him to 'come over here'. He then
points at me and does the same. Anthony disappears off downstairs and back into
the walkway behind the seats. I am left on the stairs with a steward shouting
at me, and a language problem. "Ich nicht verstehe", I explain in
my best German. He points to the camera and motions 'No'. I shrug. He then says
'Erase'. I shrug, pretending to not hear him. I show him the camera. He takes
a good look at the make and model, takes one look at the 4 Megapixels wording
on the side and makes an assumption. 4MP isn't good enough for a decent picture.
With that he tells me that I'm free to go back to my seat. Job done. He's caught
someone with a camera and dealt with it. Luckily for me, he didn't notice the
10x zoom lettering on the oppostie side of the camera. 10x zoom is quite a long
way and can get some very close up shots from some distance. Anthony was almost
not as lucky. He came back to his seat a few minutes later with a smile on his
face. He too had been given the delete command and even by trying to reason
with 'have you seen how many cameras there are in here already?' wasn't given
a choice. The steward started by insisting that the datacard was re-formatted.
Anthony managed to persued him that he had holiday snaps on the card that that
maybe he could just delete the pics from the gig manually. The steward stood
over him and watched as he deleted the pictures. One picture, delete, back a
step, delete anothe picture, back a step, delete, etc. Anthony had deleted four
pictures when he decided to scroll forwards instead of back. The steward was
now looking at a photo of the Brandenburg Gate. Anthony reasoned that these
were now his holiday snaps and not pics of the gig and that they shouldn't be
deleted. Satisfied that he had done his duty, he let Anthony go back to his
seat complete with his 100 or so remaining pics from tonights gig! From the
tales I heard of confiscated cameras, etc, I think that we both had a lucky
So that was Domino over. The stewards moved along to another area to look for dangerous subversive happy snappers and Anthony put his camera away, just in case. I kept mine out and kept snapping! Towards the end of the gig, I had to change my batteries. It was then that I realised that these were the same ones that I had used in Berlin. I had taken nearly 1000 pictures on a single set of batteries. I was impressed!
The gig finished and, as if on cue, the heavens opened. Someone knew that we were walking back to the hotel. Fortunately for me, I had the foresight to bring my 5 Euro rain coat from Berlin. And handy it was too. Walking back in pouring rain always feels a longer journey than going there, especially as we had all the stairs to climb again!
On the way, we passed a hotel, a couple of hundred of yards from ours, with a blacked-out Mercedes van outside (complete with VIP sign in the front window) and half a dozen, soggy looking Genesis fans standing at the entrance. It didn't take a genious to figure out that this was the hotel the band were staying at. I can honestly say that I have never wanted to meet the band so much that I would stand around in the rain outside a hotel, in the hope that maybe they will pass by. Maybe. Good luck to those who do that.
Arriving back at the hotel, we ditched our rain coats and headed for the bar, where we proceeded to imbibe the local brew and relieve the bar of all its pretzels!
Thursday 5th July - Leipzig -> Frankfurt
Being so close to the railway station meant that we could get a bit more sleep. After we had loaded up with the standard breakfast spread, we headed off towards Frankfurt. Never having travelled inter-city by rail in the UK, I can't really compare the German rail system to home, but all I can say is that I was impressed. The trains leave on time (to the minute) and they are clean and comfortable. Handy, seeing as we would be on this particular one for three and a half hours. Mr Accomodation figured that we might as well get a hotel near the airport, so that we didn't have to get up too early. Even handier was that the Commerzbank Arena was close to the airport as well. We get to the airport and enter the maze of corridors and pathways that all seem to end up in the main terminal building. Whilst we are here, we check in for our flight in the morning. One less thing to worry about.
We then found our way out to the taxi rank where we took a 20 minute cab ride to the 'airport' hotel we were staying in. According to our cab driver, all the hotels in the area are called 'airport' hotels, even the ones that aren't near it. It enhances their bookings as people think that they are staying nearby..
We drive past the Commerzbank Arena and then take a turning into what looks like a small forest, inside which lies our hotel. We check in (Mr Hayvitt's room was ready this time!), dump our bags and then look for somewhere to eat. The whole hotel appeared to be closed until 6pm. We managed to convince the staff in the main restaurant that we didn't want all that much to eat, so they stopped tidying away the spread from lunch and served us. Not the best meal I've eaten in a hotel, but edible. Just. A quick check of the directions to the arena (just follow the track through the woods, apparently) later and we retire to our rooms for a bit of a sleep to store up some energy for the gig.
A couple of hours later, we leave the hotel for the venue. Just as the directions said, we ended up following a footpath through the woods for about half a mile, before it came out at a bridge across a main road opposite the arena. We go in and find our seats. Once again, the pre-sale allocation of the seats came into question, as we ended up on one side near the stage, although not as close as in Leipzig. Oh well. There was no danger of rain, as this stadium had a roof! Not exactly fully enclosed, but enough to cover the top of the stadium. Put off slightly by yesterday's experience, Anthony and I left our cameras in our hotel rooms. I had my phone with me, and I figured that I would get some fairly dececnt pictures with it, so I started snapping away. 8.15pm or so came and the gig starts. Tonights sound is the best so far, no doubt helped by the roof. The light show is good as well, as the roof helped to darken things sufficiently to make the colours and effects stand out from very early on. Set list as above. No specific cock-ups to speak of. Worthy of note, was that after the band had left the stage after Los Endos, everyone, or what seemed like it, produced a sparkler from about their personage and lit it. The whole stadium was bathed in sparkling light from the crowd. nice touch. This seemed to have been happening the last two nights as well, but not to this extent. Tonight was a marvel to behold.
After the gig, all 50,000 people in the crowd left by what appeared to be the only way out of the area; the route we were trying to take. Back over the bridge, onto the footpath and back into the woods we went. Well, mostly on the footpath. Some of us went 'cross country' to avoid the crowd. A hundred yards or so in, Anthony, Alan and I took a turn off the main path and onto the path that lead back to the hotel. Now, when we were going to the arena, it was daylight and the footpath was easy to walk on. Fast forward to 11pm and it's pitch black. There are no streetlights, only a small speck of light in the distance where the hotel should be. We stumble our way through the darkness and somehow emerge through some bushes in the hotel car park. 10/10 for navigation, considerably less for grace!
Back to the bar for a celebratory drink or three. About 1am, we decide to call it a night. On leaving the bar, Anthony and I spot a Playstation hooked up to a TV on the wall, running a car racing game. I challenge him to a race, which he accepts. A couple of laps later, one of us is victorious (I'll spare the blushes of the loser...). We then set up another race. Anthony suggests a different track and proceeds to select the Neubergring. We choose our cars. I go for a BMW M3 (we are in Germany, after all) and Anthony goes for an Audi RS4. The lights go green and we're off down the track, trading paint. Drinking and driving can never be condoned, but this is certainly a safe way of doing it. However, drinking and track selecting should be outlawed. After 5 minutes, we hadn't even done half a lap. The Neubergring is 13 miles long! Needless to say, that by the time we had done our first lap, both of us had almost destroyed our cars. Anthony's car had burst both it's front tyres and couldn't steer, and my car had burst both it's back ones, so I couldn't accelerate without the back end stepping out. A couple of hundred yards into the second lap we decided to call it a draw and go back to our rooms.
Friday 6th July - Frankfurt -> London
Up at 5.30am to get to the airport. Extra security on the outbound flights. More checks, etc. Boring wait in the departure lounge, only surpassed by the bus journey from the terminal to the plane. The bus drew up at the plane and then had to wait half an hour whilst refuelling was completed. Airport busses are not noted for their comfort and this one was no exception. Everyone crams on like sardines, becuase it's only supposed to be for a couple of minutes. Half an hour later, there were screaming kids and people with cramp from having to stand in awkward positions for an extended period of time. Board plane without incident, but the flight was a little late leaving. Smooth enough flight. On approach to landing at Heathrow, we come in from the east, over the centre of London. We come out of the clouds in time for us to fly almost directly over Twickenham stadium. Anthony leaves us to make his own way home, but we agree to meet up for lunch.
A slow and bumpy bus ride later and Alan and I are back at my house. It's 11am. Not bad. Check the mail for the Old Trafford pass. Sure enough, it's there. However, it's for the Inter Milan game on 1st August. One irate phonecall later and I have my £10 refunded, as the car parks are now full for the gig. D'oh!
Drive to Godalming and meet up with Anthony for lunch in a rather nice and quirky restaurant. In the middle of the eating area, there was a video project suspended from the ceiling, beaming Laurel and Hardy films onto one of the walls. Different, but entertaining as well. Back to Anthony's for a bit of PC repair (I seem to get collared every time I go round someones house; it never happens to gynaecologists!), and a quick listen to the 5.1 SACDs on a proper surround system and that's Friday done. Alan and I return home and end up going through my stock of beer and watching episodes of Torchwood.
Saturday 7th July - London -> Manchester
Anthony had done a bit of research and managed to find somewhere to park at the venue that was free and easy to get to/from. We set off from London at about 10.30am, leaving our route planning in the safe hands of SatNav, which seems to like the M25 for most journeys. We get as far as the slip road for the M1 before we hit major traffic. Punching the 'avoid roadblock' function on the SatNav, we stayed on the M25 and took the next junction. A short diversion later and we had missed a fair bit of the jam. Arrive in Manchester at about 3pm. Find a free parking spot next to the cricket ground and only a short walk from the stadium. We manage to find The Bishops' Blaize pub and go in for the big meet up. Lots of fans here. Met Richard Coppola, Richard Nagy and Kiwi Dave. Alan was in his element, as it seemed as if he knew everyone in the place! About 5pm we decide to try to find somewhere to eat. Bad idea. Nowhere is open. Settle for a Salmonella burger from the burger van outside the pub. At about 6pm we made our way round the corner to the stadium. Find a merch stand and get a few things. OK, so I'm one of the mugs that bought the 'inside the stage' DVD. It's a nicely presented booklet and an interesting read. After a quick flick through the booklet, I joked that the accomplanying DVD is probably only 5 minutes long, similar to the extra on the Congo CD single. Little did I know...
We go into the stadium and got our wristbands to allow us onto the pitch, where our seats were. Saw Nick Davis at the mixing desk. Went over for a quick chat, off the record. He seemed happy enough with the way things were going on the tour and agreed with us that Frankfurt was the best gig of the recent German ones. Didn't get a photo with him though. He seemed a bit busy to press for one. Oh well.
One thing I will never understand about stadia is their 'no tops on bottles' policies. What is that all about? OK, so maybe a full bottle with a lid can be thrown further and more accurately than one without a lid. Maybe a bottle without a lid, but mostly full of liquid won't hurt as much if it hit you. Come on. If you really wanted to through something, you would, no matter wat it was. A shoe is just as effective. So are cameras. They will hurt more than a bottle without a lid.
|Anyway, we managed to find our seats and settled in for the show. A few rows in front, we saw Will and Wrex from Face Value. I don't know if they saw us. Then, literally a few minutes before the show came 'The Prawn Sandwich Brigade'. Several groups of people, who were dressed more for a night out at the opera than for a rock concert took their places in the rows near the front. Probably not even casual fans. There because of who they know, or just because this is the place to be seen at. Half a dozen of them ended up in front of us (why do women with 'big hair' always sit in front of me?). They were chatting away loudly and constantly gettting mobile phones out. Not to take photos, but to call their friends and shout 'where are you?' and then proceed to stand up to look around the stadium for said friends. Then a youngish couple staggered down the row and sat next to 'Big Hair', obviously the worse for drink, and getting worse, as they had several full bottles (without lids!) with them.|
The show started and everyone went quiet....for a few minutes. The moment the
ladies in front figured out that the opening piece was instrumental, they started
talking and phoning other people in the crowd. Then the couple next to them
decided to start snogging. By the time it got to In The Cage, her hand was down
his trousers! Phil's opening comment about Old Trafford being a wonderful stadium
met with mixed reactions. OK, boos mostly. Not many Genesis fans support Man
Utd then. This particular show sounded great, and the seating we had was particularly
good. The long zoom on my camera got some great shots as well. Sadly, as the
show went on, the Prawn Sandwich lot got worse. The woman with big hair disappeared
for about half an hour, allowing me to get some good pics, however as soon as
she returned, she was back on the phone asking her mates where they were. She
then developed a habit of moving into shot whenever I lined up for a photo.
Over the course of the show, the youngish couple covered the full range of emotions.
From lust at the beginning, to rejection, when they guy pushed her away (she
tried straddling him and he didn't want her to!), tears and then anger. It was
only when the guy started to raise his voice in anger at her that Anthony intervened
and asked him very politely if he and her could take their arguement out of
the stadium, as all the people around them were actually here to listen to the
band and not him. Well that did it. They guy then turned on Anthony and made
all sorts of threats of violence to him. The guy next to the guy ended up restraining
him in an effort to stop him jumping over his seat to confront Anthony. Still,
whilst restraining him, the other guy managed to talk some sense into him and
he calmed down. He then swapped seats so that the other guy was between him
and his girlfriend, who was now in floods of tears. Not long after that, the
people sitting the other side of Anthony thanked him for confronting the guy,
as he was starting to annoy them as well.
Did I mention that there was a Genesis gig happening at the same time?
It's always the few that spoil it for the many.
Asides from that, the gig was one of the best I had seen so far.
Once the gig finished. We made our way back to the car, which was only 10 mintues away from the staduim, if you remember. Surprisingly, it was still where I had left it, and it still had all four wheels on it. Manchester isn't as bad as some people make it out to be.
15 minutes later we were on the motorway heading back towards London.
A relatively uneventful journey home meant that we were back by 3.30am. Not bad considering the distance (200+ miles).
Sunday 8th july - London, Twickenham
Ah, the homecoming gig. This was only a 20 minute drive away from my house, so it afford us all a lie in that morning.
This is the gig that broke up the TWR team. Due to the maximum purchase requirements, and the people we were going to the gig with, Anthony and I had to buy our tickets seperately. Consequently we ended up on opposite sides of the stadium. Oh well. My party consisted of Alan, my wife, her aunt and me.
Having lived in the area of the stadium for a few years, I knew where to park. 10 minutes walk from the stadium is Whitton, a small village with a High Street. At the back of this is a public library and a small pay and display car park, which unless you knew the area, you wouldn't know was there. Sure enough, when we rolled up at 4pm, there were plenty of spaces for us. Also, this car park is very close the The Admiral Nelson pub, where we were going for a few drinks before the gig. The pub was also showing the men's final of the Wimbledon tennis chamionship on their big screen TV, so that was the wife happy!
As the afternoon drew on, it became obvious that this was not the meeting place for the Forum members. Oh well. Saying that, Steve Puddick (promoter for the Chiddingfold Rock Club; In The Cage, etc) put in an appearacnce and had a chat with Alan and I.
At about 6.30pm we took a leisurely walk to the stadium. The ticket check was a farce. My wife's handbag was searched thoroughly, but I wasn't, and I had the camera in my coat pocket! Walked past Nick Davis in the car park! On taking our seats, I thought there had been a mistake. Sure we were near the stage, but we were in the tiered seating to the side. We were vitually side on to the stage with no view of the centre screen. Had I known there was a complaints procedure, I would have complained. Especially as these seats were booked during the presale and using the 'Best Available' option on Tickmaster's website.
Alan decide to go for a walk and managed to pull off a comedic coup with one of the security guards. To get on to the pitch, wristbands are requied. This is so that only people with pitch tickets get on to the pitch and the other riff raff don't. The security guards were there to make sure that only people with wristbands got onto the pitch. Alan waited and timed his run down the stairs to perfection. A group of people were coming up the stairs from the pitch past the guard. Alan simply walked past the guard, coming down the stairs on the other side of the group. The guard called after Alan and started to give chase, but then spotted more people coming down towards the pitch and decided he had better not abandon his post. Alan was now on the pitch.
From where I was, I had a clear view of him mingling on the walkway next to the seating. It paid off for him, for after a while he started to spot some familar faces.
Veronique Pelletier was the first, then Annie Callingham. Then Nick Davis. Then Tony Smith. Even Dale Newman turned up for a chat! Then a surprise visitor. Kim Poor. She and Alan spent a while chatting about things before Billy Budis, Steve Hackett's manager made an appearance. A quick conversation with Billy turned up the fact that Steve himself was in the audience, but was incognito. Mingling and name dropping over, Alan returned to his seat for the start of the show.
Again, being so close to the speaker stacks, the sound was clear and loud enough. Sadly, the side-on view of the stage meant that we missed the video show.
Also, two lights on the far side of the stage seemed to be angled in our direction for the first two songs; enough to be annoying.
Then the orange shirts arrived. During In The Cage, a 'gang' of orange shirted security people appeared from nowhere and stood at the bottom of the stairs, at the edge of the pitch. They faced towards the crowd looking for pirates and bootleggers, no doubt. Not long after their arrival, a couple of them heading up the stairs towards us. They stopped a few rows in front of us and shouted at a couple of people in the middle of the row to put their cameras away. They didn't even have 'pro' looking cameras! One of the security guys was particularly rude about it. After Leipzig, I learned that when not taking a shot, to put the camera down and certainly not to put the strap over over my head. The security guys, happy that they had done their job then went back down to the pitch and dispersed, leaving only the rude one and a couple of others in our area. Even then, they appeared to be selective over who they told to stop taking photos.
|The show went on with more good music and presumably, some good video. Then something happened that I couldn't believe. The rude security guard out on the pitch, who had so rigoursly imposed the 'no cameras' policy reached into his pocket, took out his mobile phone and lifted it up to point it at the stage. My mouth dropped open. I had to get a photo of that. However, by the time I had got the camera in position, he had put his phone away. That made it a challenge. I kept the camera ready, still snapping away at the stage and enjoying the show, but keeping one eye on him. Sure enough, a few minutes later he did it again and I got him. Double standards or what? Now I had the proof. OK, so maybe he was turning the camera on its side and raising it in front of him in order to view a text message on the screen. A sideways text message. What do you think?|
Not to worry though, for a short while later, the rain started and the orange
shirts diappeared, presumably in case they melted!
Even Phil commented on the rain again and then also mentioned that by swearing again, the BBC are likely to punish him for it!
As gigs go, this one was enjoyable enough, but not the best, from where I was seated anyway. Having the middle of the screen obscured kind of put a damper on things.
When it finished, we all piled out of the venue and managed to get back to the car park in about 15 minutes. We were back home by 11.30pm.
And so ends the TWR European Tour 2007.
All in all, it was fun. Doing something like this is an experience I can recommend to anyone. It was made all the better for the company I had on the trip, Alan and Anthony.
As with any major event in life, there are things to be learned.
Here's what came out of the trip for me...
1. Germany has some beautiful towns and scenery.
2. Germany has a very clean and punctual inter-city train system.
3. The word for battery is pronounced the same in German and English.
4. German bier is very nice (especially the dark bier).
5. You can get away with taking photos at gigs if you look and act like an ignorant foreigner with a crap camera.
6. A hotel with 'Airport' in it's name may not actually be anywhere near an airport.
7. Rain is rain, no matter where you go.
8. 'Best available seats', even when sold in a specially arranged pre-sale for fans, may not actually be what they say they are.
And yes, all the German women under 40 we saw were gorgeous!!!!!