"Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery" - TWR looks back at some of the Genesis tribute bands which have appeared over the last twenty years. Photographs by: Alan Hewitt, Stuart Barnes, Anthony Hobkinson and Frank Rogers. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
I should point out at the beginning that this is not an exhaustive look at tribute bands, of which there are now hundreds, and so, if any that you are aware of, or are part of are not mentioned here, no offence intended!
Cast your mind's back, dear readers, to the gloriously Covid and Brexit free Nineties you know, when a Trump was something you did after a particularly feisty curry, Corona was something you got in lemonade bottles and Brexit...well, least said about that the better!
Anyway, it was back in those infinitely happier days that tribute bands began to make an appearance. All of which was news to me as I was firmly ensconced in my Prog Snob epoch and would not give such an act daring to sully the works of Genesis a backwards glance!
Like so many things in those days, it all began with a series of telephone calls...oh for those pre Facebook days again! Anyway, at the time I was blissfully unaware of the existence of any acts emulating the work of our heroes until it was drawn to my attention that one such was at large in the UK. Friends recommended them to me but they let slip that the band had the rather unfortunate name of Genesis...hmm...yes, ever so unfortunate I thought, and declined the invitation to go and see them.
And so the telephone calls persisted over a period of about two years and each time when I asked.. "Is it Geneside?" I was informed that it was and declined once more. Then in the spring of 1997 I received another call and was informed that the band had changed their name. "Oh, what is it this week?" I asked. "ReGenesis" came back the reply… Hmm, acceptable I thought to myself and so in May 1997 I found myself somewhat reluctantly ensconced at The Robin in Merry Hill and that was one of those pivotal moments which occasionally happen in life.
The band were absolutely superb, led by singer Glyn Protheroe who acquitted himself admirably as Mr Gabriel, and backed by the equally impressive talents of Messrs Doug Melbourne, Andy Hyam, Nigel Appleton and Andy Marsh. It was a match made in heaven and I was instantly hooked. The band had done their homework and musically they were tight and proficient and above all, enjoying themselves as much as we were. Over the next fifteen or so years I managed to see the band regularly and with several lineup changes including the arrival of Tony Patterson on vocals, they were never less than entertaining and set the bar incredibly high for any band's intending to try and follow in their wake. And there were soon plenty of them…
My next encounter was with a similar small scale UK band whom I saw for the first time at a pub gig somewhere in London on the same day that I had been to Bray Studios to see the reincarnated Genesis performing their final dress rehearsal before embarking on their Calling All Stations tour. What a contrast that was! And yet an enjoyable one as the band: Invisible Touch gave a creditable performance and went on to do so for several more years.
Dee, an associate of that band; Duncan Philips was to provide me with what remains one of the most satisfying experiences of all the ones I have had associated with tribute bands. A massive Tony Banks fan, Duncan had often discussed the idea of performing a concert of Tony's music. Madness? Indeed, but Duncan, bless him, was a dreamer of beautiful dreams and during the winter months of 1997-98 managed to put together a band of equally crazy musicians determined to make that dream a reality. Me? Well thankfully for all of you, I am NOT a musician but I did my damnedest to help in whatever way I could and eventually the Strictly Banks concert was announced. Taking place at the lovely Orchard Theatre in Dartford on Saturday 6th September 1998, it was an absolute honour to be part of the crew that assembled that gig and it was an equal thrill to see and hear some of Tony's finest moments recreated onstage. OK, it wasn't perfect, these things never are, but the spirit and enthusiasm were unquenchable and this remains my proudest encounter with the world of Genesis tributes.
Meanwhile, at roughly the same time I had also been the recipient of a similar series of Transatlantic phone calls from a very good friend and dedicated Genesis fan; Jack Beermann who in his turn extolled the virtues of another tribute band hailing from Canada and calling themselves The Musical Box. During these calls Jack endeavoured to convince me of the wisdom of crossing the Atlantic to see them. Now, travelling up or down the M6/M1 was one thing, but across the Atlantic? To see a tribute band? Are you serious? He was, and so, after one particularly enthusiastic call in the autumn of 1998 in which I was informed that the gigs which he was referring to were going to be the band's last and would comprise a Foxtrot and a Selling England By The Pound show, I thought...a week's holiday in Canada/USA? Oh, alright then! Flight booked and taken, I arrived in Boston to meet up with Jack and a couple of other friends to travel down to Montreal for the shows.
The events which transpired as a result of that trip have already been detailed elsewhere in the pages of TWR so I won't repeat them here. Suffice to say, what I saw during those two performances will live in my memory for a very long time. Visually this was Genesis circa 1972/73 in every fundamental detail. Sonically too, the band had spent years (and a vast amount of money) in recreating the shows fromas Genesis themselves performed them. It was not so much a tribute as a recreation of those magical early days.
Thankfully the band managed to acquire the license necessary to restage The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway from Peter Gabriel who had seen the band at some point. And so, a further two trips to Canada in June and November of 2000 were duly made. The first alongside the precious cargo of the replica slides essential for that presentation which had been acquired for the band by Duncan Philips who was the brains behind the Strictly Banks project.
Now, as you all know, I am not enamoured of The Lamb...but I have to say, that upon seeing the very first of these legendary recreations I had to return to the UK afterwards and re evaluate the performance and the album, made a lot easier later that year when the band themselves released a live recording from the Lamb tour as part of their first Genesis Archive box set. This was simply stunning stuff which any Genesis fan would love and thankfully since then, The Musical Box have, instead of retiring, gone on from strength to strength to tour the USA, UK and mainland Europe and hopefully will continue to do so once the current madness is over.
Onwards to another of those pesky telephone calls… I had met John Wilkinson on one of those overseas coach trips that used to be so popular back in the day and this one was to see Mr Collins in Paris. We lost contact after that but somehow John found my telephone number and here he was telling me that he had joined a tribute band called Face Value...I still remember his somewhat sheepish voice when he explained that they were a three piece band with...a drum machine! I am sure he expected me to hang up in disgust but no, I asked him to let me know when and where they were playing and I would go if I was able to.
It was an inauspicious start. The gig was at The Iron Door in Birkenhead and was fraught with problems but the fact that the band determinedly carried on was what impressed me. Over the next few years I found myself in attendance at gigs by the band on a regular basis and like many other bands, they went through several personnel changes, including the acquisition of a REAL drummer. I have many fond memories of gigs by this band as I am sure many readers of TWR do too, but eventually Face Value called it a day at the end of 2011.
By this time there were numerous other bands performing the music of Genesis and some of its solo members and my next encounters were to be with bands who really did define the gulf between the good and the...not so good!
|G2enesis, now abridged to G2 were the next to appear on my radar and from the start they were, and remain an impressive outfit. Their gigs are impeccably performed and the musicianship is of a frighteningly high standard and they cover the classic period of the band's repertoire, even venturing as far as Duke on occasions.|
At roughly the same time as G2 arrived, so did Genesis In The Cage. Sadly there the comparisons must end, they never reached the heights of the aforementioned bands and had in their front man, perhaps the worst "singer" ever to attempt to perform this demanding material. That said, it takes guts to even get on a stage and ATTEMPT it and they did so with regular gigs across the country before folding sometime in the early 2000's.
|Another sadly short-lived band, and one which was local to me, were Moonlit Nite who appeared and disappeared in 2010. From the handful of gigs by them which I saw, they were without doubt one of the most fun bands I have ever seen. Also featuring some incredibly good musicians as well. I miss their gigs.|
Back to another of those phone calls...A friend of mine who was another Genesis fan and a bloody good drummer in his own right, called me to inform me that, just like John Wilkinson before him, he had joined a band calling themselves The Carpet Crawlers and would I be prepared to go and see them? Of course, I replied and so I was present at their debut gigs back in 2009 and despite the technical problems which beset some of them, they grew in stature and ability expanding their repertoire to the point where their shows could last for three hours in length! Visually and musically impressive, the band have continued to tour both at home and in Europe to appreciative audiences and will no doubt do so again once the current situation is over.
Another arrival at about this time was Los Endos a band who took a while to get going but after a similarly shaky start like most of the rest, they have gone from strength to strength from their humble beginning at the Seaxe Pub (yes,I was there!) to the theatres they now perform in, they are another band who cover a broad spectrum of the band's repertoire.
And last, but not least in this catalogue of music is : Mama. Cast your mind back a few paragraphs to the demise of Face Value. Well, Mr Wilkinson was not about to let that spoil his enjoyment of belting out the music of his heroes so he put together Mama, a band which has featured former members of both The Carpet Crawlers and Moonlit Nite. From humble beginnings in 2012 they too have gone on to perform in front of growing and enthusiastic audiences and I have no doubt will continue to do so in the future.
And that's it for this feature. Sorry if your favourite band isn't mentioned here but with the multitude of bands out there these days it isn't possible to mention them all. If you wish to write a feature on band's you know which aren't covered here, then feel free to send your musings in to us. And in the meantime, once this madness is over, get out there and support musicians of whatever shade...they are our lifeblood and need our support now more than ever!