"On Home Ground" – Mama in convert at the Brindley Arts Centre, Runcorn on Saturday 25th July 2015. Review by Alan Hewitt. Photos by Frank Rogers.
Another Saturday night, and another new venue for yours truly. I am ashamed to say that this little gem of a theatre ,which is practically on my doorstep had, until tonight eluded me. The Brindley is a superb theatre with excellent facilities all of which brought the very best out of our heroes tonight.
The band have been working on some changes to the set and tonight things were changed around slightly as the show got under way with a suitably dramatic rendering of the band’s theme tune: Mama, as they emerged on to a stage bathed in red light (the bane of my camera!) it was evident that tonight’s performance was going to be a bit special. Tonight was to be an evening of contrasts as the juxtaposition of Mama with Land Of Confusion and Carpet Crawlers gave us superb readings of vintage tracks from both ends of the Genesis spectrum and this was only the first twenty minutes of the show!\
The band have worked long and hard to put together what we now call The Duke Suite and tonight it was delivered to us in glorious perfection. James Cooper and David Jones underpinning everything with a rock solid rhythm section while Mr Collins…. I mean Wilkinson, was in his element bringing these tracks to stunning life. One thing that impressed me more than most throughout the evening’s performance was the fact that the band were evidently enjoying themselves every bit as much as their audience, which is always a good sign!
The first half of the show was rounded off by an equally enjoyable performance
of No Son Of Mine in which keyboards man, John Comish took the musical honours
whhile the readings of the evergreen Follow You Follow Me and Ripples had honours
jointly shared by the entire band who didn’t put a foot wrong.\
Things got off to a heavier start in the second half with a storming version of Dodo/Lurker and Abacab all of which really tested the band’s mettle, Mark Comish delivered some ferocious guitar licks on the latter which was a joy to watch. In The Air Tonight was a rare hark back to the band’s early shows but a very welcome one as once again it was James who took the opportunity for some serious abuse of his drumkit throughout. No rest for the wicked though, as with a perfunctory explanation of the Domino Principle we got…. Domino, of course!
That was another example of ensemble excellence which led in turn back to the halcyon1970’s for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway in which once again it was John Comish who really shone and the segue into the closing section of The Musical Box just gets better every time I hear the band perform it.
Some of the longer format songs would have benefited from a few more lights but hey, it’s the music that counts and Home By The Sea is its own musical light show as was wonderfully demonstrated by the band tonight in a really impressive performance which was followed in turn by an equally breathless In The Cage medley which blew everyone away. Los Endos signaled the end of the show proper with a suitably rambunctious version which had the slightly reserved crowd on their feet cheering for more.
This we got with a breathtaking reading of both Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch and I had to marvel at the sheer energy that the band still had after this two hours plus show to deliver. But the show was not over, and we were given an surprise to send us home happy with an impromptu version of Sledgehammer, which was as brilliant as it was unexpected!
Mama have come a long way since they stepped out of the shadow of Face Value but they are now very much their own band with their feet firmly planted on course to continue delivering evenings of magic such as this one for a long time to come.