“So Long, Farewell…” - Face Value’s final concert at The Box Crewe on Saturday 17th December 2011. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
Well, I wasn’t quite in at the beginning with this band but I was pretty close! It still seems like yesterday that I got a hesitant telephone call from John, the band’s singer whom I had originally met on a trip to Paris with MGP (remember them?) back in 1990 to see Phil in concert. John and I had lost touch in the intervening years but he had found me again via TWR and asked me to attend a show his band were doing at the Iron Door in Birkenhead. As I recall it that gig was fraught with problems and he couldn’t stop apologising for the lack of a drummer - yes, in those days F V used one of those dreaded drum machine things, but by the end of it I was hooked.
And here we are almost ten years on from that show saying goodbye to what is without doubt one of the UK’s finest Genesis (and Collins) tribute bands.
The Box (a suitably musical venue - pun intended) in Crewe was the venue for this occasion and having seen the band here a couple of times before, I knew that we would be in for a good night and a crowd full of so many familiar faces from the Face Value “family” 9try saying that after a few pints!) was going to ensure that the band went out on a suitably enthusiastic note.
Arriving on stage to the now familiar strains of the 2007 Dukes Medley segueing into Turn It On Again, it was evident from the outset that tonight, although a sad occasion, was also one of celebration and the entire band grabbed the audience by our collective necks and shook us until the pips dropped.
No Son Of Mine took on an even greater sense of drama tonight, Mr Wilkinson’s vocal delivery contained even more angst than normal in keeping with the emotional setting of the evening whilst Chris and Mr Comish brought depth and texture to this classic slice of latter day Genesis. Land Of Confusion has never really been a favourite of mine but tonight, the humour helped to defuse the underlying sense of sadness of the evening ensuring that the evening continued to be a party and not descend into a wake. Wrex’s drumming here drove the song home at a breakneck pace and the audience loved it!
Many Too Many brought a tear to many an eye, none more so than mine as John dedicated this underrated classic to my good self. This was why I have been so pleased to follow this band for so long, musically and vocally right on the money throughout - superb stuff. The atmosphere was lifted again by John’s antics leading us nicely into Jesus He Knows Me, and an ensemble performance to be proud of, driven along by Chris and Wrex.
One thing that hasn’t improved with age is Mr Wilkinson’s introduction to the first helping from Phil’s solo catalogue: I Wish It Would Rain Down, that aside, musically this was another solid performance by everyone in the band. Misunderstanding gave the other John a chance to shine with some impeccable emulation of Mr Banks’ simple but effective chords whilst our chorus master hammed up to the amusement of the crowd.
Time for anyone who didn’t think Genesis could do rock ’n’ roll to eat their humble pie next as Abacab threatened to rip the roof off the venue. All credit to the rhythm section of Wrex and Chris here as they battled away throughout. John’s Keyboards at time sounded like a demented banshee - all part of the effect and our band leader prowled around the stage looking for something to savage - impressive stuff.
Follow You Follow Me calmed everything down for a while and reinvigorated the party spirit of the evening. John led the rent-a-crowd chorus and wrapped everything up nicely before the industrial grind of the keyboards and drums led us into the paranoid world of Mama which concluded the first half of tonight’s extravaganza.
After a well-earned break the band returned to the stage with a further couple of slices from Phil’s catalogue: I Wish It Would Rain Down and Against All Odds which certainly got the audience back in the party mood. The light was then darkened by the awesome might of Squonk in which Wrex took centre stage to drive the song along accompanied by equally magnificent contributions from Chris’s guitar work and John’s keyboards. Vocally, Mr Wilkinson should have been on the cough linctus after this one I don’t know how he did it! Nor did he give himself any rest with the next number either as once again, Wrex and Chris took the audience by storm to lead us into In The Air Tonight. Cue audience going absolutely nuts - well, it was our show too now, wasn’t it?
Pee break time for yours truly next. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike Throwing It All Away? Perhaps I have once or twice over the years so apologies if this is old news to many of you!
Things improved immensely with Domino however, after John’s amusing attempt to explain the “Domino Principle” to an audience already primed in this particular slice of Genesis lore. A veritable tour-de-force in Genesis’ catalogue, and delivered as such tonight. Every member of the band contributed 110% to this one and I admit, I did get several flashbacks to actual Genesis gigs during it - always a good sign in my book.
Sadly the band opted to perform Afterglow again as a stand alone track and, as I have said many times before, it doesn’t really work as such. That said, it gave those of us with enough energy left to do so the chance to help the band raise the roof with a chorus that Genesis themselves would have been proud of!
By now we were into the home straight and the band didn’t take their collective feet off the pedals as the phenomenal instrumental workout that is Los Endos led into equally ferocious renderings of two of the most demanding songs in the Genesis catalogue: Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch both of which John delivered flawlessly whilst the rest of the band raged “quietly” around him bringing the show proper to a close and everyone in the audience to their feet in appreciation of a magnificent performance.
Of course, we all knew that encores were still to be had and the band did not keep us waiting for too long. Even after all these years the band still managed to take me by surprise as John dedicated the first encore to Genesis nut (and good friend of mine), Dale Bellis and then launched into a (sadly) truncated version of Fading Lights - yes folks, tears did flow as you might expect with this awesome slice of latterday Genesis.
Time for a trip back (further Westward and chronologically) as the band concluded the evening with I Know What I Like accompanied by the rent a chorus choir that was the audience and the stately Carpet Crawlers which ended this final gig in a fittingly emotional manner.
Then it was all over. Difficult to believe even now a few days later as I write this review that Face Value are no more. I have always tried my best to be fair and honest in my reviews of the tribute bands (despite what certain band members and their followers may think) but it is VERY difficult for me to try and sum up exactly what this band have meant to me over the ten or so years I have been seeing them. First and foremost, they are consummate musicians, each and every member (past and present) and their ongoing popularity is testament to that. Second, they are good friends of mine and the absence of the band won’t change that. Above all though they are Genesis fans themselves and their dedication to the cause of promoting that music is something that they should be proud of and we, as the audience should be grateful for - thank you VERY much guys for ten years of superb music. Here’s to the next chapter!