“Storming the citadel” - Mama in concert at The Citadel St Helens, Saturday 8th October 2016. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
This was the second night of a double header at this marvellous venue, Friday night had been “Prog Night” which unfortunately I had to miss due to a prior engagement but there was now ay I was going to miss this evening, not so much for it being a “Hits” show but because it was also the last gig by Mama’s guitarist, Mark Comish and there was no way I was not going to be there to bid him a fond farewell!
And I have to admit that I was extremely pleased that I had decided to attend as tonight mama really did give us the whole card. Not only running through most of Genesis’ hits themselves but also a fair smattering of those by Peter, Phil and Mike & The Mechanics too. In fact, a veritable treasure trove of memorable music.
Things got under way with a raucous Land Of Confusion and Turn It On Again both of which proved that the band really can rock out when the occasion demands. Don’t Lose My Number too, kept things up tempo before John, ever the wag, woind the audience uop about “those songs that Peter Gabriel used to sing” before introducing Solsbury Hill… Mr Comish did himself and the band proud on this one with a delightful acoustic guiyar performance .
Against All Odds was delivered every bit as flawlessly as it used to be done by Face Value (remember hem, folks?) before a real treat, Mike & The Mechanics’ classic Silent Running. There had been a few problems with this during sound check, but they were well and truly ironed out here with a thoroughly enjoyable version with Mark’s brother John laying down some lush keyboard playing. Jesus He Knows me gave “preacher John” the chance to sermonise from the book of Genesis while Big Time gave the entire band and in particular the rhythm section of David Jones (bass) and James Cooper (Drums) a chance to shine.
With it being a show of two halves the second half got off to an unexpected start with the second part of Phil’s extended anti Apartheid anthem, Colours driven along superbly once again by James and David and no rest for the wicked as Abacab launched itself like a missile threatening to tear the Citadel’s roof off. The mix of classics was simply breathtaking although kudos in particular to the band for attempting the emotionally demanding Living years with a dedication to the late Stephanie Kennedy whom many of our readers will know.
The Only nods to “Prog” tonight were an audience driven singalong version of I Know What I Like and a surprise inclusion of the end section of Musical Box, which got an excellent response from the crowd and saw the appearance of a “Cosmic (or should that be “comic?” Lawnmower” in the audience! The show was brought to a close by the sheer drama and energy of Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch both of which place incredible demands on both the band and audience’s stamina but neither flagged tonight. Encore? Of course we got an encore and what more fitting than the one which Phil has closed his gigs with since it was written back in the 1980’s - Take Me Home bringing another night’s music making to a suitably ebullient close.
This show impressed on so many levels but above all, the performances demonstrated the sheer diversity of music the members of Genesis have created as well as demonstrating once again the prowess of the musicianship in mama - a thoroughly enjoyable night all round.