“From The School Room To the M6” - A Look At The Tour Programmes From Phil Collins And Mike & The Mechanics’ Tours with Alan Hewitt.

I don’t think there has ever been another rock band with so many members who have been as successful as solo artists as there have been within the ranks of Genesis. Every member has achieved artistic success in various ways and if not all of them have done so on the concert stage, they certainly have in terms of musical output and content.

Both Phil Collins and latterly Mike Rutherford, have achieve enormous solo success - sometimes against the odds (pardon the pun!). Hence this look at the various tour programmes from both protagonists.

Phil’s solo career began in earnest with the release in February 1981 of the Face Value album, preceded as it was by “that single” now made even more famous by a drumming gorilla! However, due to his commitments to Genesis; it wasn’t until the autumn of 1982 after the release of his second solo album: Hello, I Must Be Going, and the enormous success that it generated, that Phil found time to take to the road in his own right. For that tour, a brochure was produced featuring an informative but not necessarily serious text outlining the achievements of each member of the “Bill Collic Reform School For Boys” as it was described. Phil’s entry is both amusing and quite truthful: “tries hard and is quite short”. Still true even after all these years, eh Phil?! Seriously though, this is a decent programme in large format containing a good mix of text and photographs, and one which is still quite easy to find for your collections.

Phil’s next putting was in support of the massively successful No Jacket Required album in 1985. By this time, Phil’s solo success was really taking off and the resulting tour in support of the album was to last almost the entirety of 1985 including the now legendary “Live Aid” performances on both sides of the Atlantic. The brochure produced for the tour, was by comparison to its predecessor, somewhat disappointing. This time it was an exclusively photographic brochure with no text apart from tour dates and basic personal info and given the scale of the tour itself, relatively easy to find .

The massive success of Genesis’ Invisible Touch album kept Phil away from solo endeavours until the release in October 1989 of his fourth solo album; the monstrously successful But Seriously. A truly world wide tour was embarked upon in the early part of 1990 and it was to last until the beginning of October of that year. Another souvenir brochure was put together, this time in keeping with the theme of the tour; the booklet was designed to resemble a circus programme with Phil as ringmaster on the cover. Illustrated throughout with photos of Phil’s ever-expanding band in various forms of circus garb - Daryl as a toffee apple seller, anyone?! Another relatively easy programme to find and a nice addition.

Phil’s life became more fraught in the early 1990’s resulting in the stark and angry Both Sides album in 1993. Once again a massive tour was to occupy Phil for most of 1994 and well into 1995 as he took his own brand of music to even more far flung corners of the globe. With the stage show themed around a scrap yard, the tour brochure too kept with this theme with a cover depicting Phil’s trash can-styled drum kit. Inside once again, the brochure was predominantly a photo booklet although basic text did accompany the photos of each band member. With so many shows performed on this tour, this one should still be an easy item to locate for your collections.

Another two years were to elapse before Phil was out of the traps again. By this time, he had left the angst of Both Sides behind him in favour of the altogether more optimistic Dance Into The Light album. Once again the tour brochure mimicked the theme for the stage show which on this occasion was that of an ocean-going liner and so the cover depicts Phil in typically nautical attire! The large format programme is perhaps the best of Phil’s programmes to date. An excellent mix of informative (and on occasions amusing) text is accompanied by a wealth of photographs. An enjoyable programme and another which should still be relatively easy to find.

With only a handful of shows performed in support of the Testify album in 2002 and no brochure for either that or the Big Band tour of 1998 we come to Phil’s final tour; The First Final Farewell Tour of 2004/05 which, as its title suggests, was Phil’s last big solo tour. For this an excellent brochure was compiled. Issued in a hard beige slip case, the programme contained an excellent mix of photographs and an informed text on just about every aspect of Phil’s career, making this an essential item to any collection.

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Mike Rutherford took slightly longer than Phil to get into gear (another pun - sorry!). His first two solo albums; 1979’s Smallcreep’s Day and 1982’s Acting Very Strange had got him off the mark but solo success eluded him until the eponymous Mike & The Mechanics debut album in 1985. With little time left to Mike before reconvening with Genesis for the Invisible Touch album sessions, he nevertheless found time for a short US tour in the spring of 1986. Sadly, as far as I am aware, no tour brochure was issued to commemorate the band’s live debut.

Mike reconvened The Mechanics in 1988 and the resulting album: Living Years was a huge hit. A tour was duly organised including extensive runs in the USA and at last, gigs in Europe and the UK. For this tour, a brochure was put together in the form of a fold-out postergramme replete with live shots and a basic text and tour dates. No doubt, many of these were cut up into smaller fragments by fans to put on their walls etc, hence the apparent rarity of complete copies of this programme these days.

Mike did not tour for 1991’s Word Of Mouth album, and strangely enough no tour brochure was compiled for the highly successful Beggar On A Beach Of Gold tour in 1995 either. However, the following year’s Hits album tour did generate a brochure. A large format effort featuring the now familiar sleeping petrol station attendant on a red cover. Inside, the programme had a decent mix of informative text and photographs (including yours truly’s address AND telephone number included WITHOUT asking my permission - naughty!) With this tour being a UK only affair, this programme is of interest especially to foreign collectors and is quite difficult to find these days.

Another four years were to elapse before the next outing from The Mechanics. 1999’s M6 album did not quite emulate the success of its predecessors but it did decent business in the UK and generated another round of gigs here and several in Europe too. The resulting programme followed the basic format of its predecessors and once again featured the sleeping “Mechanic” on its cover. A basic text was accompanied by a selection of rather lacklustre images and the end result is a rather disappointing effort although another very collectable one and one which is quite difficult to find these days.

Paul Young’s sudden death in 2000 looked to have put paid to The Mechanics but they re-emerged in 2004 with the Rewired album and resulting tour mainly in support of Phil Collins! One UK gig only resulted and no tour programme was produced. Paul’s death has generated interest in any memorabilia from his career and all of the above programmes are now highly sought after by collectors.

Sadly, neither Tony Banks or Anthony Phillips have ever contemplated the touring life and so this concludes TWR’s look at the solo members’ tour programme output. I hope you found it useful. Next time, I shall re-examine the tour programmes by the band themselves, beginning with the Gabriel era.