"Priceless" - Another look at two frantic days in October by Stuart Barnes. Photos by Stuart Barnes.
OK, so the planning for this started before October. It was well known for a long time that Genesis were filming a BBC documentary, but it wasn't until the end of August that Alan contacted me to ensure that I had cleared space in my diary on 2nd October. TWR had been invited to a screening of the aforementioned documentary. Over the coming weeks, Alan contaced me several more times to inform me that 'the band' would be attending and then that he'd arranged an interview with Ant Phillips as well.
The week of the screening arrived and it was on the Tuesday that things started to get a bit weird. I arrived home from work to an e-mail from the BBC. This was most strange, as it's usually me complaining to them, not the other way around. They then went on to explain that they were from the team that produces The One Show and that they were looking to put together an audience for the programme this coming Friday (three days away), and would I be able to help them to do that. Without hesitating I agreed, however it wasn't long before I realised the magnitude of my challenge. I had to get over a dozen people together at the BBC studios in a few days time. But before then, I had to give the Beeb a list of who would be coming.
Instantly I reached for my mobile phone. Alan has his contacts, and so do I. Oddly enough, they are mostly members of tribute bands (plural). I contacted them. All agreed. I phoned Alan managed to persuade him to stay in London for an extra night. He agreed. Needing an extra few names for the list he gave me some. I spent most of Wednesday contacting them. Some were able to make it. Some weren't and were gutted. When asked about how long we'd be in the studio, I estimated that we were unlikely to still be in the studio at 7.35pm (5 minutes after teh show finished). I was wrong, but even I was surprised as to how wrong I would be. With the list compiled, I sent it to the BBC so that their security department were made aware of the audience for the show. I was also advised that there was to be no photography, etc in the studio on pain of ejection and definately no meet and greet either before or after. Fair enough, it's their party. I'd love to say that it ended there and that we all turned up on Friday and saw the show, but it didn't. It got weirder and a lot more frantic, but not until a few hours before the show. More on that later. Stuff happened before then.
|Thursday arrives and Alan and I meet up at a South London tube station and walk the short distance from there to Ant Phillips' house. Once inside Ant and Alan catch up for a short while before the interview begins proper. Details of the interview will be in a forthcoming edition, so I won't spoil it too much. Amongst the topics discussed were back catalogues, new work and stagefright as well as some insights into the BBC documentary from Ant's perspective. I can't say how much of what was discussed will make the final version of the article, but it's likely to be a good read. Once over, we adjourned to Ant's studio for a few photos and then said our goodbyes.|
Alan and I then made our way towards Haymarket, where the screening was taking place. We arrived at the Cinema and joined the queue, in the hopes that being there early would be to our benefit. Other people had the same idea and soon the queue was significantly longer than when we had joined it. A venue official then came out and told everyone that it was allocated seating. With that in mind, Alan and I took our leave and went to a restaurant over the road. No sense in waiting in the cold, getting hungry.
We rejoined the queue a short time later and then the real waiting started. More and more people joined the queue and Alan and I both found that more and more people were looking like complete strangers to us. Usually, at a Genesis related event, there are the usual suspects from the various fan magazines plus some of the more dedicated fans (the sort that would camp outside the venue overnight, etc). Well, the fan magazines were there, but not the fans, yet there were lots of people, who seemed to know each other. What was even stranger was that they were looking at us wondering what business we had being there. Most odd...
Opening time arrived and the first few rows of the line were let in. Names were being checked to ensure that there were no gatecrashers. On reaching the front, Alan and I walked in and were met by Joanne Greenwoood from TSPM. After a quick chat, Joanne pointed us upstairs and told us to sit in the area reserved for TSPM. We went upstairs and found our seats. Every seat in the venue had been labelled. A lot were for Universal employees, some for Eagle Rock employees and some for TSPM; these were good ones.
We took our seats and relaxed as the venue filled up. Being where we were, we could see people as they came into the venue. Lots of familiar faces. Nick Davis, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), and so on. Luke Juby from Mike and the Mechanics noticed us on entering and came over for a quick chat. Then it all happened a bit quickly. Right behind us, a group of people were gathering. It was 'the band'. When I say 'right behind' I mean just that; reach out and touch distance. Things were starting. A presenter appeared and the front and introduced the band. The guys walked out past us and down the stairs to the front, where there was a short interview with all of them. They say that a picture paints a thousand words. Pictures of these five guys would say a lot. That being the case, why oh why did the presenter wedge herself in between Steve and Peter? That one act alone prevented proper photos of the guys from being taken. Whether that was deliberate or not is a discussion for another time.
Interview over, the guys returned to their seats at the back of the auditorium and the show started. Alan has reviewed this, so I don't really have to. I enjoyed it, although there were a couple of massive ommissions. One being Wind and Wuthering and the other being no mention of Ray Wilson. Like him or not, he is part of the bands history. That aside, the presentation was OK. There were some good funny moments, however there was nothing in this particular documentary that hasn't been covered in numerous other ones (e.g. A History and The Genesis Songbook). It was surreal to see Ant Phillips saying his bits sat in the same living room Alan and I were in a few hours earlier. What was weird/annoying were the frequent soundbites from unknown journalists about how seminal various albums were and what they meant to them. Who were those people? This made it look similar to another (unofficial) documentary I have seen made by a company (no names mentioned) whereby a couple of unknown 'journalists' proceed to interrupt old footage of the band by talking complete bollocks about material and events they probably weren't aware of before being given the assignment of doing something for a Genesis documentary. Similar, but perfectly watchable, especially if you weren't aware of the bands lenghty history, which is, I suspect, the demographic it was being aimed at; new fans.
Still, that wasn't the best part of the evening. The documentary finished and the lights went up. The audience applauded and rose to their feet, turning to face the members of the band, who in turn stood and took their bows. This was the photo opportunity of a lifetime. I snapped away, smiling inwardly my own good fortune to be there and to be in the seat that I was in. Yes, that's my photo on the home page of the site. We hung around for a bit at the end, in the hope to get some photos of the band, but the guys didn't seem to hang around when it came to leaving. Fortunately, Alan was able to obtain a few pics from Jo Hackett, which she has kindly allowed TWR to use on the website.
Friday arrived and the fun and games predeeding The One Show started. I had to go to work for the whole day, so it was my intention to meet Alan outside the BBC at 6.30pm, as that was the time we would be let in. All was going well until about 1pm, when I was phoned by one of the researchers. "Do you happen to have a copy of Suppers Ready on vinyl?", she asked. I replied in the affirmative. "Can you bring it with you?" was the follow up question. "Yes", I replied and we ended the call. I then had to work out a way of getting my copy of Foxtrot from my house in the suburbs of London into the centre of London where I worked. Cue some help from my family. My dad was coming along to the show anyway, so I called him up and asked him to make a detour on his way to the station. He agreed, so that was settled. No worries, or so I thought.
It was 2.30pm before I heard from the BBC again. "Do you have anything to play your record on?", was the question, "as we have an idea for something that we can to do Suppers Ready". I replied that I did, but it wasn't portable. I observed to the caller that she was phoning me from the same building that Radio One was based in and that maybe they had the equipment they were looking for. "Yeah, we're investigating that avenue" was the reply. I had to smile. Cheekily, I asked if perhaps someone could arrange for the guys to sign it. I was given a reply to the effect that "such things weren't allowed". The same went for photos. The researcher signed off by asking me to arrive at 5.30pm not 6.30pm so that they could prep things. That made things tight, but possible. Cue a phone call to my dad to tell him to get ready an hour sooner than was planned. Fun and games.
After a mad dash from my office, across London, I arrived at the BBC studios and met up with Alan and everyone else we'd been able to organise. I approched security and asked for the reseacher I was in contact with. Someone came over and explained that it was only me that was required early, so the others headed off to the pub. I was escorted in to the building and given a visitors pass (the others only got wrist bands...) and taken upstairs to The One Show's offices. I handed over the LP and was taken back downstairs to the waiting area where I was joined by the others, having called them back from the pub early. This was a chance to catch up with everyone, as I hadn't seen some of the assembled throng for a while. It wasn't long before a researcher appeared and asked us all if we had any interesting tales from our time as fans of Genesis. Alan stepped forward immediately, along with two others. They were taken away to be prepared for the show.
About 10 minutes before show time arrived and we were escorted into the studio and told where to stand. We walked in past the sofa where Chris Evans and Alex Jones were sitting preparing themselves for the show. The floor manager introduced herself and told us all what was going to happen during the show. She wasn't all that tall, but she came across as being the sort of person you wouldn't want to argue with. 5 minutes to go, and Phil, Mike and Tony walk in right past us and are put in their places (literally) by the floor manager. The audience was then joined by some other invitees and Tony Smith and Joanne Greenwood from TSPM. TV screens make TV studios look huge. The One Show studio is no different. In reality it's not much bigger than my front room. The ceiling is lower than you'd think, and the main camera is backed right up to the studio door. Therefore it was most amusing to see Phil, Mike and Tony standing behind their respective pillars with their backs right up against the wall right before the show started.
|7pm and the show goes out on the air. The guys are introduced and take their seats on the sofa. Chris Evans then pulls out an LP copy of Foxtrot and sets up the challenge to the team of artists outside. Yes, that was my album cover and record used on the show. I'm going to assume that most of you saw the show either live or on catchup or some other means, so I don't need to go into what was aired. Those of us in the studio did get to see what was going on when the VT clips were running. It was mainly the floor manager moving us around, but also Chris and Alex setting themselves up for their next bit to camera. The questions from the audience piece came up towards the end and while the VT was playing, Chris came over to the three audience members with questions, standing right next to me, making a joke about the shows Editor having won a competition that day to edit a show. It was at this point that a voice inside me was thinking of tapping him on the shoulder and asking him to have the guys sign the album cover. Given that this is exactly the sort of interferrance that I was advised would have me removed from the studio, I opted to not say a word. The show comes back to the studio and Chris does the question and answer bit. That's me standing immediately next to Chris' back. Anthony and Dennis get their questions in, and then it gets to Alan, and there's no time left. Chris shuts him up before he can even start, which, if any of you know Alan, was hilarious to see.|
Remember me saying that I didn't think we'd be in the studio much past 7.35pm and how I was wrong about that? It turns out that we were to be escorted out before the show finsihed. Chris and Alex walked outside with the guys to look at the street collage and for the audience, that was it. Show over. We were shown the door. There was enough time to thank Joanne Greenwood for the invitation to the previous nights' screening. She commented on Alan not getting his question in, to which I quipped, "It's about time someone shut him up!".
There was enough time for us to walk around to the rear of the street collage to see the very end piece of the show. And with that, it was all over. We all walked over to the entrance door in the hopes that the guys would walk out and stop to sign some autographs and photos with fans. No Dice. Next to the walk-in entrance were some loading bay type doors. Within a few minutes three black BMWs left the loading bay, presumably containing Phil, Mike, Tony and the management team. After that many years in the business, the guys have mastered the art of the quick exit. Not long after this, Chris Evans left the building. He stopped and signed autographs before walking away. Next up, Alex Jones came out. She also stopped and signed autographs and also stood for photos with fans. They have yet to learn the art of the quick exit and all whilst they do it on foot, they will be a long way from achieving it!
A show runner then returned my (unsigned) LP to me and our party then went in separate directions. Some went home, and some went to the pub. I went to the pub. A week like that needed a few pints to end it off. Reflecting on recent events, it occured to me that I had been present at both the first (and most likely last) gathering of the classic five man line up of the band in over 30 years and also probably the last time that Phil, Mike and Tony would be seen together as Genesis in public. Alan has since put his question to one of the band members present at The One Show, and the results of that will be published in a future edition of TWR. My target now is to get the LP cover signed........
So, that just leaves me to say some thanks. Thanks to Ant Phillips for the interview and coffee, Joanne Greenwood at TSPM and the production team and crew at the BBC's The One Show.