“Digging for gold at The Cavern” - Mama in concert at the
Cavern Club Liverpool on Friday 1st March 2013. Review and photos by Alan Hewitt.
The first weekend of March proved to be a busy one for Genesis fans here in the ‘Pool. Mama AND The Carpet Crawlers (see review of their gig elsewhere in this edition) were both in town and so a veritable feast of Genesis music was in the offing.
First out of the traps were Mama who were gracing The Cavern for the first time on Friday night. They got the evening off to a suitably dramatic start with their theme tune - Mama of course, which took most of the audience by surprise. An emphatic performance from the entire band got the show under way in fine style. This was quickly followed by the now ubiquitous Duke Suite which gave the entire band a chance to stretch their musical (and vocal muscles) which they took with collective glee, this really was excellent stuff and the show had only just got started!
There was no rest for the wicked either as No Son Of Mine and Abacab threatened to tear the roof off the Cavern which might not have been any bad thing as the place has always been a sweatbox! On the latter it was Mark Conway and James Cooper who really drove the performance along with a magnificent display of rhythm playing.
Things calmed down a bit next with the underrated classic, Many Too Many in which John Wilkinson gave one of the finest vocal performances I have ever heard from him, augmented by some impeccable keyboard playing from John Comish. I had to admit that I had my doubts when I first heard that the band were planning on segueing this into the closing section of Musical Box but, having seen it several times now, I have to say that it works incredibly well aided no doubt by a typically vocal audience!
Misunderstanding seemed out of place next but what the hell, the crowd lapped up this although not quite as much as the next number which John teasingly introduced as a “number Peter Gabriel used to sing”. And so it was, as the instantly recognisable Solsbury Hill got everyone involved. Kudos here to Mark and John Comish who really pulled out all the stops here.
Classic followed classic as the magnificent Ripples emerged serenely into the proceedings. One of the finest performances of this favourite I have ever seen by a tribute band with special mention to John and Mark Comish again and to Mr Wilkinson who delivered a flawless vocal performance throughout.
Time for a bit more audience participation next with Follow You Follow Me, always a winner and here everyone was at their very best with some particularly tasteful playing from Messrs Conway and Cooper. The first half of the show was rounded out by the band’s explanation of the “Domino Principle” and a cue for much ribald banter with the crowd before Domino exploded into life like a veritable atomic bomb blast. The entire band couldn’t have given this any more clout if they had tried and I for one was checking the local news reports the following day to see if there had been any reports of an earthquake in the vicinity!
After a short interval in which band and audience regained a modicum of composure (and breath) all hell broke loose as the band returned to the stage with Dodo/Lurker. Without doubt, James and Mark’s rhythm playing took this one to a new level and it was an impressive performance all round.
Behind The Lines and Turn It On Again followed with more masterful performances from Messrs Comish and Conway oh, and Mr Wilkinson who really will learn how to play the guitar part one day! Speaking of guitar parts, the band’s decision to broaden the envelope to include some of the solo classics from the band members came into its own again as Mark Comish’s rendition of Spectral Mornings raised the hairs on the back of my neck with a truly stunning and bravura performance.
Contrasting that with Land Of Confusion jarred the senses somewhat but Genesis have always been a band of contrasts so no one should have been surprised. In The Air Tonight, already a staple in the band’s previous incarnation (Face Value for those of you with short memories) came next. Once again, James came up with the percussive goods while John’s vocal really hit the spot.
In The Cage, complete with medley brought about the biggest cheer of the evening thus far and it was great to see Afterglow restored to its rightful position as the orgasmic finale of this truly wonderful slice of Genesis. Band and audience were merged as one throughout as the spirit of Genesis took possession of The Cavern for those all too few minutes but by the end of it I doubt if anyone was less than exhilarated by what had been a truly masterful performance.
Not that that was the conclusion of things, oh no! Squonk once again threatened to expose the Cavernites to the night sky as Messrs Cooper and Conway delivered another rhythm master class leading nicely into an equally frenzied Los Endos.
How the band found the energy to go from that into the extended nightmare that is Tonight, Tonight, Tonight is anyone’s guess but they did it in magnificent style before closing the show proper with an equally rousing Invisible Touch and I pity poor John’s vocal chords as he could not have put any more passion into his performance here if he had tried.
Of course, encores were expected and very soon were delivered, starting with a respectful performance of Carpet Crawlers and a singalong I Know What I Like sending everyone home happy - and exhausted!
This was a greatly improved performance from a band which have already set the bar high in terms of presentation and although there are bands out there with bigger production values, I don’t think there is a tribute band in the UK who can match Mama for sheer effort and enthusiasm - a superb effort!
One thing I must take the band to task for though is their advertising, referring as it does to the band as “The all era Genesis tribute band”. This MUST stop until reference is made to both the From Genesis To Revelation AND Calling All Stations albums within the set. This failing is not unique to Mama however as I have pointed out elsewhere within this edition. Genesis themselves got into trouble with the ASA here in the UK during the latter tour so tribute bands take note!