Braving the snow and icy roads of Friday 26th of November myself and good lady set out for Darlington to catch Retro-Genesis perform at the Darlington art centre. On arrival we were stricken by the similarity of the building to Chaterhouse which as the loyal amongst you will know is where the whole Genesis phenomenon began.
We were glad to get inside out of the cold and find ourselves a decent seat. It always pays to be punctual methinks. Gazing at the myriad of musical instruments and technology, lights, and effects we were bound to be in for a treat. The band took to the stage at around 08:30pm with a breathtaking and somewhat unexpected rendition of the GabrIel classic “Come Talk to me”. Tim Esau's bass playing throughout the whole show though was terrific though it was with the Gabriel pieces that his talent was more apparent.
Pausing for breath front man Tony Patterson announced that the first half of the evening would be their SoGabriel set before launching into a rousing and dramatic outing which was “Steam”. To slow the pace moody and very atmospheric songs like “Snap Shot” “Mother Of Violence and “San Jancinto were put through there paces before playing my favourite of the evening “Red Rain”.
By this time I was expecting many of the sensibly glad fifty something’s like me to be baying for their favourite Genesis piece. Instead they were more than content with the selection of Peter Gabriel’s best composition and the dexterity in which they were being played. I include myself in their numbers.
“Games Without Frontiers” loaned itself very well to audience participation and received gleefully my many of the members of the crowd not least the ladies. A slightly protracted beginning to “Sledgehammer was marred slightly by Tony Patterson’s at that juncture non illuminating jacket. However, boards man Jon Lewis kept up the momentum in true Dunkirk spirit whist Tony returned to the stage and performed all the appropriate movements to this rousing and phallic interpreted song.
The So Gabriel set ended with “Here Comes The Flood” Very apt I thought with recent history still fresh in the minds of the people in Cumbria. As everyone retired to the bar still reeling from the musical bombardment so ably portrayed I listened to the many positive comments being traded not only by the usual clientele of such an event but couples and groups of men alike.
As the band took to the stage for the second half of the evening the excitant of many was too much to contain and I feared that some of the air drummers in the audience may even hurt their hands or damage the furniture. Dogged my a keyboard technicality the intro to” Watcher Of The Skies” had to be halted and started again. This I found ironic because being as I am one of the many people who witnessed a few Genesis gigs from this era I thought it further added the authenticity of the evening. Genesis were known for their gaffs.
All the favourites were played “Hogweed”, “Broadway Melody Of 74” etc. However, “Firth Of Fifth” was nothing short of magnificent. Hats off to jon Lewis who breezed his way through it with aplomb whilst being aided and abetted my the powerhouse that is Franco Zuccaroli. Quite where they found this guy I don’t know. I fear that only kryptonite will stop him. Paul Boydell’s guitar playing was at it’s best during this song and remained smooth and constant throughout the whole performance.
The Knife had the air drummers back out in force and if my memory serves me correctly had a little more vim about it than the last time I watched Genesis play it as an encore. The use of laser throughout this song was terrific. As the band left the stage the crowd had already begun the relentless applause until the bands return. A medley beginning with Solbury hill fusing with I Know What I Like” allowed more audience participation whilst the betrayal of the Gabriel era heralded the concluding section of “Los Endos”.
As the band played their last few notes the entire population of the building was ushered from the building due to the fire alarms going off. Not surprising really as the amount of smoke being emanated from the rear of the stage was at one stage colossal. As we left the building in a blizzard we pondered the difficult journey home whilst asking ourselves was it worth it. And as we looked over our shoulders at the fire brigade arriving my thoughts were that I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
RetroGenesis played an astounding gig which I feel made them transcend the tribute band title. I believe that they are more than that. Indeed the quality of these five excellent musicians put them into a league of their own. The nostalgia element of what they are loved for was catered for but I have to say that the So Gabriel set was far more appreciated than the now antiques road show of Genesis classics that we all know and love. I may be wrong but as Mr Gabriel himself mooted, Are RetroGenesis about to shed their skin? Watch this space.