“The Musical Box” - Face Value live at The Box Crewe on Saturday 23rd October 2010. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
As I mentioned in my editorial to this edition, several of the UK tributes have experienced personnel line up changes over the last few months and Face Value have not been immune to this. This gig was to be one of the last by founding keyboard player; Tony Cole and the first one I had seen with new guitarist Chris O’Connell whom some of you may already know from his previous stint with another tribute band whom some of you may remember with fondness.
The Box is a relatively new venue in the Crewe area and those of you who remember the band’s previous triumphs at The Limelight Club must have had flashbacks on entering this venue which internally looks very much like a truncated version of that venue. Anyway, on with the music. The band had promised a few surprises and having heard the sound check I knew we were in for a treat as they took the stage and launched into the Behind The Lines and Turn It On Again. Right from the start Chris O’Connell shone as he delivered Daryl’s licks in impeccable form. John roamed around the stage like an angry lion while both Wrex and Tony barely broke sweat as they delivered the usual refined backing section.
No Son Of Mine always has been a favourite of mine, and tonight it wasn’t difficult to see why as the entire band put in a bravura performance which created several flashbacks to actual Genesis gigs, it really was THAT good! Land Of Confusion and Jesus He Knows Me are songs which I can live without but they are firm staples of the band’s repertoire and the crowd loved them which is what it is all about really.
The first real gem of the evening next. Many Too Many, the hit that never was. I was delighted when the band first introduced this one into the set and it has improved immeasurably since then. The addition of Chris has really brought this one to life and the performance tonight was simply wonderful. Same can be said for Follow You Follow Me which followed it (pun intended). A delightfully simple song and yet one which is so easy to ruin if you don’t pay attention to it. No such problems here tonight. Tony and Chris really brought home the musical bacon here and the audience showed their approval in the usual manner.
I have always admired any band that attempted to pull of the next song but even more so if the keyboard player was brave enough to attempt the introduction. I have to say, the bet I had with Mr Cole over this one was the best fiver I have ever lost. Of course, it’s Firth Of Fifth which has classic parts for both the keyboard player and guitarist and I have to say that I have never heard this one performed better by any other tribute band. The spirits of Messrs Banks and Hackett must have infused Tony and Chris because they were simply note perfect - the expression on Chris’s face as he delivered Steve’s solo said it all - brilliant stuff!
The first set closed with Mama, and once again, the improvement in performance here was almost tangible. The stage bathed in red light, like something out of a bad horror film, John instilled just the right amount of paranoia into the song for it to generate shivers up my spine. There was plenty for the rest of the band to do as well and the ensemble put their hearts into another superb performance.
A short break for everyone to catch their breath and then on with the show. The second half opened with the ubiquitous Drum Thang leading nicely into Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, the first of the solo Collins classics tonight and once again I had vivid memories of gigs by the man himself during this one. Chris took on the mantle of Daryl Stuermer with as much ease as he had done that of Steve Hackett and it was a joy to behold. Against All Odds is one of those songs which hasn’t really aged that well in my opinion and the performance here was adequate but didn’t really do anything for me personally but the audience liked it.
It was a totally different proposition during the next number however. In The Air Tonight, always a band staple and one which they have always relished playing. Tonight, they seemed intent on ripping the roof off The Box. Everyone seemed to be hanging on every note as the band tore into this dramatic epic. Once again, Tony and Chris set up the atmosphere, replete with tension and anticipation. Wrex battered seven shades of you-know-what out of his kit while John put in the performance of the evening here how he had any voice left afterwards is anyone’s guess!
Pee break time next, otherwise known as Throwing It All Away, probably my least favourite song from the band’s live canon but one which the audience lapped up with collective glee. From the ridiculous to the absolutely sublime next as Squonk made an appearance in the show. I really can’t put into words my feelings during this one it was jaw droppingly good. Kudos to the entire band here for reinvigorating this classic slice of Genesis and making a happy fan very old.
Back to Mr Collins’ solo catalogue for a run through several more of those evergreen hits we know and love and without which a Face Value show wouldn’t be complete. You Can’t Hurry Love, Two Hearts and Sussudio were gratefully received by a crowd who by now were itching to have a bit of a dance and they certainly did throughout.
Afterglow brought us back into the land of classic Genesis but I have to say, that as impeccably played as it was, it simply doesn’t work as a stand alone track. Note to the band: reinstate it with either In That Quiet Earth or as part of the In The Cage Medley and then it will regain its glorious lustre. Los Endos though was absolutely on the money. Wrex got everything under way and the entire band grabbed the audience by the scruff of the neck and showed no mercy as this was followed by Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and the show closer; Invisible Touch both of which showcased the talents of each and every member of the band.
Lapping up the well deserved applause, the returned for the compulsory encores and gave us a delightful pairing of Genesis and Collins classics opening with the whirr of the Cosmic Lawnmower and I Know What I Like, a joyful celebration which the entire crowd joined in with. It was great too to see a band so evidently enjoying themselves as well during this one. Of course, the evening couldn’t end with anything other than Take Me Home, always a joy to hear and once again tonight an opportunity for everyone, band and audience to take part - which we did with collective glee I may add!
Then it was all over again. Time really does fly when you are having fun and this gig really was fun. I have watched this band grow in stature from the suitably inauspicious beginnings (The Iron Door, anyone???) to the position they now occupy as one of the major tributes to Genesis’ music here in the UK. That is a tribute (pardon the pun) to all the members past and present but especially to the current line up. The addition of Chris O’Connell has given the band the edge they were lacking previously and I am sure that the band’s repertoire will now open up even further over the coming years to become a truly moveable feast of all things Genesis and Collins - marvellous stuff and well done to all involved!