“The Moonlit Nite Dances Out” - Live at the Norton Arms Runcorn Saturday 13th March 2010. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.

A new year and yet another band try their luck at putting on a tribute to Genesis. Moonlit Nite were formed in 2009 and this gig was their live debut. Were they any good? We shall see…

The Norton Arms is another one of those delightful slightly out-of-the way pubs that always seem to have a good vibe going for them and tonight was no exception. Even as I arrived, there was already a substantial crowd crammed into the narrow area around the stage including some familiar faces and some to whom I was obviously familiar from the “Genesis Songbook” . The band themselves were still setting up so I got myself a pint and waited for the show to begin. Not quite so simple though, because the band asked me to announce them onstage which I did with great pleasure before returning to my vantage point to take in this debut gig.

If the band were nervous it certainly didn’t show as the began the show with the opening section of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (well, it IS their theme song after all!) and they acquitted themselves very well on it, too! Behind The Lines and Squonk showed that the band were quite prepared to mix and match the classics and on the former it was the combination of Barrie Cass on guitar, Mick Grant on vocals and James Cooper on drums who really shone while on the latter it was the turn of Justin Ryan on bass and Mark Glenning on keyboards who really brought home the musical bacon so to speak.

An edited version of Abacab showed that the band could really rock out and gave themselves a hard rockin’ musical work out before taking us way back to the damp, dark Seventies for the first real surprise of the night; an amazing performance of Can-Utility & The Coastliners which, I have to say really did bring out the goose-bumps! A brave choice and one which the band pulled off certainly to my satisfaction and also to the crowd’s if the reaction was anything to go by!

That’s All brought a bit of light relief after the drama of the preceding tracks and the audience gladly joined in with some participation of their own. The first half of the show was closed by the high octane pairing of Dodo/Lurker and Turn It On Again all of which were performed with great gusto and verve by the band who had by now, settled comfortably into their role as tonight’s entertainment.

The opening number of the second half should not have come as any surprise, In The Cage is a staple of most Genesis tribute bands’ sets but the band took the brave decision rather than to couple it with the more usual medley culminating in Afterglow, instead to give us the 1986 version climaxing with the Apocalypse In 9/8 section of Supper’s Ready and I have to admit it was f**king brilliant! Ripples too was delivered in a marvellous performance in which both Barrie and Mark really shone.

The whirr of the Cosmic Lawnmower from Mark announced the arrival of I Know What I Like and some serious audience participation, aided and abetted by Mick and the rest of the band. The only slight disappointment was next. Afterglow really doesn’t work that well on its own in my opinion, it always needs to be the climax to something else but nonetheless, the band turned in an acceptable performance here.

Fly On A Windshield and Broadway Melody Of 1974 were next and once again, for a new band, they played this like seasoned pros gaining well deserved applause from the crowd. James had a moment to shine again when he launched into his very own version of the now famous “drum thing” preceding Los Endos which gave the musicians a real chance to flex their collective muscles while vocalist Mick joined the crowd to watch!

Unusually, that wasn’t the signal for the end of the show, oh no! Next up was another evergreen classic - Follow You Follow Me which gave everyone a chance to catch their breath.

A truncated version of Firth Of Fifth closed the show proper and once again, apart from a couple of minor hiccups, was delivered in fine style. The crowd loved it and it was obvious that we were going to get at least one encore and what an encore - The Knife which drove everyone wild. Both band and audience were really enjoying themselves and the show closed on a really high note.

So, there you have it. Moonlit Nite may not have the stage accessories of The Musical Box or the light show of ReGenesis, but you know what? They don’t need them. What we had tonight was good honest music from a band who are obviously determined to have as good a time themselves as they are giving to us, their audience and on this showing I certainly look forward to many more moonlit nites!

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