“There definitely was some misunderstanding!” - Mama in concert at The Forum Theatre Chester on Saturday 23rd January 2016. Review by Alan “rabid dog” Hewitt. Photographs by David Broome.
So here we are at the start of another year and yours truly got his gigging card off to a flying start with another trip to my second home; Chester to see Mama’s first gig of the year. I knew the band had been working on a few new bits and pieces so I was looking forward to some surprises and I was not to be disappointed!
The band took the stage in front of a capacity crowd - OK there was one seat left as showtime arrived, so sue me! Surprise number one was their choice of set opener: Deep In The Motherlode! Yes, this underrated classic from the And Then There Were three album had new life breathed into it by the band. A fiendishly difficult song to play as Genesis themselves admitted, Mama made it look oh so easy tonight with an extremely impressive performance all round - a fine start to the night.
Following this with the raucous Land Of Confusion only served once again to demonstrate just how varied Genesis’ catalogue actually is and here the rhythm section of David Jones (bass) and James Copper (drums) really went to town with a vengeance. A marvellously executed segue of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight/Carpet Crawlers was equally well performed with some delightful keyboard work from John Comish in particular. The crowd enthusiastically lapping up every nuance of the performance.
The “Duke Suite” came next and was once again a delight to hear with each and every member of the band having their chance to shine throughout this veritable overture of Genesis classics. I have to say that I have seldom heard John Wilkinson in finer vocal form than he was here tonight while once again, an impeccable rhythm section performance underpinned a masterful musical performance.
Once again, classic followed classic as the band really gave us the whole card during a thrill-packed first half which concluded with delightful versions of No Son Of Mine, a truly delightful reading of Ripples in which guitarist, Mark Comish really shone and an equally impressive Domino although the impact of the latter was perhaps lessened to a degree by the lack of lighting but the music was sufficiently dramatic to more than compensate for that I can tell you!
After a short and well-earned break the band returned to the stage for this ‘ere second half thingy and launched into their theme tune. Yes, Mama, that six and a half minute song about a prostitute and once again, the entire band really put their collective hearts and souls into a magnificent performance all round. This was the band’s first gig for almost two months and so it was only fair that at some point an error occurred but even so, what happened next was hilarious. The set list said that Dodo/Lurker was next and so what exactly possessed James to give us the intro to Misunderstanding one can only guess but it led to much head scratching among the rest of the band and the expression on James’ face when he realised his error was priceless! “Live music” one wag ( not I, I hasten to add) shouted out and indeed, once the band regained their composure we got a truly rocking rendition of Dodo/Lurker and Abacab in which James more than compensated for his error with some absolutely scintillating playing.
No rest for the wicked either as Squonk tested the mettle of the entire band with some excellent playing from Mark and John and another rock solid performance from James and Dave while Mr W showed his evident relish with some impressive vocal pyrotechnics of his own. Technical f**k up number two next as Comish the keyboards forgot the intro to The Lamb… causing much mirth - hey shit happens, ya know! It didn’t affect the end result which was another delightful slice of classic Genesis and the segue into Musical Box still gets me even after all this time - great stuff!
Home By The Sea and In The Cage and its ubiquitous medley brought out some more impressive performances from each and every band member who were evidently thoroughly enjoying being back in the gigging saddle so to speak and the show was brought to an exhilarating conclusion with Los Endos but this time with a twist… as we got the finale to … Supper’s Ready which elicited gasps of surprise from the audience.
There was no way that after a performance as good as this one that the band were going to be allowed to get away without an encore and we finished the evening on more familiar territory with the extended singalong version of I Know What I Like with John leading from the front and the rest of the band not putting a foot wrong as they concluded this gig in impeccable fashion.
All over in the blink of an eye. Time always flies when you have fun and you don’t get much more enjoyable than a show like this. Yes, the band were a little rusty in places, so what! They more than compensated for that with impassioned and passionate readings of some of Genesis’ finest moments and on this showing the rest of their gigs this year should be something to behold - my thanks to all involved.