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Birmingham - 1st night (review)

gary@congo.demon.co.uk

I can stop wondering if I'll ever see them live now...

Last night started with what's going to become the "usual" internet
people's meet up - along with Alan Hewitt (useful bloke to know!). After
an hour or two at a bar everyone had trouble finding we decided to
wander down to the arena itself. Had the usual long wait to get served
at the merchandise point (we realised there were others afterwards, one
for tonight I think!) and then the same again after I muttered "food"
and found another queue.

7:45 came around - time to get to our seats, about halfway back on the
left side of the floor, not bad at all as we soon found out.

8:05 - okay, now I'm getting hyped..."why does it always say 8pm on the
tickets when they never turn up then!?"

8:15 - hang on, lights have gone out...this is it!

A familiar "tick, tock, tick, tock" sounds filled the arena and a full
Birmingham NEC erupts in cheers as the band take to the stage and the
first song "No Son Of Mine" is performed. Nice light show, no
jumbotrons. I was on my feet at the end as this was it, Genesis live.

"Land Of Confusion" came next which Ray performs well. Again no jumbos.

Then the shout of "Hello Birmingham" from Ray, quickly followed by the
famous piano intro of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" with no mistakes
from Tony as far as I could tell. The lights on this one were fantastic
with white varilites panning from directly above the band onto the
audience and above. Looked wonderful from my position. This version of
"The Lamb" is the closest to the original it's been since 1975, very
good.

Next up - a short chatty bit from Ray as he introduces "Calling All
Stations" - and what are those white things being revealed at the back
of the stage - the music starts - ahhh, the three jumbotrons. The song
is complement by the jumbos with an excellent computer generated
animation. I was paying more atention to the screens than the band on
this one!

Ray again - he tells us about the first Genesis song he sung, 15 years
ago, "Carpet Crawlers". This version takes getting used to but I've
seen/heard it 3 or 4 times now and I think it's very good indeed
(although nothing will beat Phil on Second's Out).

Another intro from Ray which takes us into "There Must Be Some Other
Way". Of course, everyone's waiting for the instrumental passage on this
song which is longer and slightly more drawn out than the album version.
Good, although I know they've performed it better before.

Straight into "Domino". Brilliant - Ray pulls this off *very* well. The
jumbotrons are used for only the second time in the evening for "The
Last Domino", again complementing the song which is how they're used
throughout the night. Love it.

Now there's a bit of unfamiliar drumming from Nir, and where'd Ray go?
Boom - right into the "Firth Of Fifth" instrumental passage. Here's
where I chip in with my who's the best guitarist opinion. Anthony's
better than Daryl and has the feel of Steve throughout - but he's just
not Steve and I'm too used to the perfection of ReGenesis to really want
anything else. Still good though!

The jumbotrons come out again for "Congo" with a tribal beat from Nir
augmenting the start. Strange cartoony animation which we could've done
without and maybe just had some nice green lighting (which we got as
well). Liked it all the same.

Ray introduces the four robot light things on stage as the band's
girlfriends (as of course Genesis can't get any real girls!). None for
him though - he's looking for someone to share his "Home By The Sea".
Very, very good - the second part is exactly how we're all used to. The
jumbos are, of course, used with this one to great effect.

Next up, the curtains come across and the band ventures to the middle of
the stage for the acoustic set all of which is *fantastic* and gets the
biggest cheers of the night (a "Genesis Unplugged" album anyone?).
"Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" starts us off up to "You know what you
are, you don't give a damn" followed by a reprise of "Selling England by
the pound".

"Follow You Follow Me" is next. I like this acoustic version very much
indeed - great to sing along to.

Lastly there's "Lover's Leap". I don't really need to tell you all it
was superb now do I?

The band go back to their usual positions as the drum pattern to "Mama"
starts up. Bit of controversy here - Ray sings "Mama" better than Phil
ever did. It's like it was written for Ray to sing. By far the best
version of the song ever. I don't think there's really much argument
either.

"The Dividing Line" then starts up - a hugely long version with a guitar
duel between Mike and Anthony at the start and a great drum solo from
Nir after the vocals had finished. 10 minutes +. Brilliant. Jumbos were
again used.

"Invisible Touch" was a slight comedown to be quite honest. It was good
though and gave the opportunity for people to sing along a bit.

"Turn It On Again" ended the main set - I still like this song a lot
even though it's been played on tour endlessly!

Cue 5 mins of mad cheering and then the encore. First Mike walks onto
the stage on his own and starts off the familiar riff of "Throwing It
All Away" and then the rest of the band join him. We all sing along at
the end to the "Away"s.

"I Can't Dance" is the last song of the night. Ray, as usual, comes down
and picks a girl from the audience to dance with during the song - us
blokes don't have anything to worry about! Then the show is over far too
soon. 2 and a quarter hours has just whizzed by - but then, for me,
there's always another night.

Overall points - The screens were used very well and only when they
served some purpose instead of just being there and being pretty
pointless. The band weren't on top form as I know they've performed a
few songs better on this tour already. For me though, an unforgettable
night.

Time to start getting ready to go to tonight's show!

Gary