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Memories of Manchester

wentod@rpi.edu

First of all, I'm sorry that my catching up at work has interfered to the
point that it's taken me this long to finally post my thoughts about my
recent trip across The Pond, and about what proved to be a very exciting and
rewarding few days that culminated in one of the biggest thrills of my life.

But with that said....friends and neighbors, welcome to my memories of
Manchester!

Most simply put....the date of March 6 alone made it all worth the trip.
Met Gary Best that morning at the Euston train station in London (Yes!
I met Satan himself! Sorry, guy....couldn't resist ;) ), and it was
shortly after the two-and-a-half-hour ride got us safely into Manchester
Piccadilly that our adventures began. Before we even got anywhere near
the NYNEX Arena, we wandered up to the Hogs Head pub, where lo and behold
we should meet none other than the incomparable Simon Pound and his two chums
(Richard and Paul? Sorry, in the excitement, I can't well remember.) Si,
may I be so bold as to say here in public that you are a real sweetie, and
that it was absolutely *terrific* to meet you after all these years of
chatting back and forth! =)

Anyway, we only stayed at the pub for an hour or so. I had places to be and
(hopefully) people to meet; due to the unspeakable graciousness of one Carol
Willis Impey and Joanne Greenwood, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting
on Wednesday, I'd had instructions to go round to the back gate of the Arena
at 5:30, and ask for the guy whom (I'm assuming) is in charge of security for
the band. Well, we did sort of have to go through a rather lengthy series of
security checkpoints, but a guard finally led us through the loading dock
toward backstage.....and as we rounded one of the big trucks, it was
literally
just like something you'd see on the "Three Sides Live" video....all those
big crates, reading things like "GENESIS: Mike Rutherford -- Guitars" or
"GENESIS: Tony Banks -- Keyboards"! But we kept on going and finally ended
up in this small, dark hallway....the guard knocked on a door labelled "Hit &
Run," and when the door opened, he said, "There are two people here to see
you...." So I heard this voice say, "Oh yeah, okay...." and then the owner
of that voice stepped out into the hallway.....and promptly scared the hell
out of me, for the man is about seven feet tall! But he was very nice...he
led us into the arena, and the first person Gary and I saw as we headed in
was
Nir, who was just dorking around filming things with a video camera. We
said hello; he said "hi" back. Anyway, to make a long story short, we walked
in to the arena and sat down in the 6th or 7th row, just still sort of
pinching ourselves that it was all really happening. I mean, to be two of
six people sitting there in an arena that holds 10,000? 15? It was pretty
incredible.

Anyway, it was shortly thereafter that I got my first look at Ant Drennan...
I wouldn't have known him if I'd fallen over him. So for the first ten
minutes or so, it was just Ant and Nir tuning up....one thing I thought
humorous and sweetly human was how Nir was sitting there banging away on his
kit, with a cigarette hanging idly out of his mouth....

So then I just happen to look slightly off to my right, just past the front
corner of the stage, and......who should be walking up the corridor toward
the stage, but............?!?!?

Those of you who have admired an actor/actress/musician/famous person of your
choice for ages and ages, and have imagined one day actually *seeing* that
person in real life, if just from a distance, will appreciate the thousand
thoughts that went through my mind in the space of a few seconds upon
seeing Tony Banks approaching the stage. I quite literally didn't know how
to react....I could *see* him there, only about 30 feet from me, and yet
the whole thing seemed so unreal that I almost felt nothing but this total
sense of calm. Or maybe I was just struck numb, I don't know. But I *do*
seem to remember maybe summing it all up under my breath to Gary with a
hushed "Holy shit." ;) Anyway, Tony just moseyed up to the stage, plugged
in, and started his part of the soundcheck. (And just as an aside for the
benefit of the other female Banks buffs out there, never let it be said that
time has been cruel to the man.....he looks *great*! ;) )

Okay, so now Tony was there.... About five or ten minutes later, Mike shows
up, wearing a green pullover and carrying a cup of coffee. So now *he* plugs
in and starts dorking around.

Finally, maybe a little after 6:00, Ray finally shows up. He does some basic
soundchecks with his mike, and shortly thereafter Gary and I are treated to
hearing the band do "The Lamb" and "No Son of Mine." After that, as I think
Gary pointed out in his earlier post, the guys just jammed, and the
soundcheck
ended a little after 6:30. I could hardly believe that an hour could go by
so quickly....I do think that Gary and I were still wondering if we hadn't
imagined the whole thing!

Okay, so fast forward a little to the show itself, which started right at the
scheduled time of 8:15.

In a word.....wow. From the first haunting tick-tocks echoing from the
darkened stage, heralding the opener of "No Son of Mine," to the
crowd-on-its-feet closer of "I Can't Dance," I was just enthralled. Sure,
the lights and effects are scaled 'way down from the past few tours. And
sure, it would have been *really* nice if they'd broken down and performed
*all* of "Supper's Ready." But you know what? I had as much fun at this
show
as I've had anywhere else, and damn near every one of the songs gave me
goosebumps. Seeing Tony pinned in the cone of that single white spotlight as
he whirled into the opener to "The Lamb." Similarly, seeing Tony sit down
with an acoustic guitar on his lap after lo these many years. Those
primitive drums in "Congo." The explosive, rocking visuals that flew off the
screens to
the sound of that great, gut-wrenching guitar at the beginning to "Calling
All Stations." "Home by the Sea" and "Second Home by the Sea" ('nuff said).
That one suspended moment between the two portions of "Domino," just before
that violent, churning bit, complete with the mesmerizing "2001" visuals
that always leave me breathless. And "Mama"......God, "Mama"! Everyone
who said that Ray does a superb job on this tune wasn't kidding...paired with
the blood-red lighting and the wavering curtains behind the band, that looked
like so much fire, and Ray's terrific expressions that combined a great
sexual tension and total madness, as he crouched low on the stage......God,
it was amazing!

Anyway, of course all good things must come to an end, and so it was with
some sadness that I watched the five lads take their final bows and then
leave the stage. But man, I'm so glad I went....having done it once, I
can probably safely say I'd do it again, if it ever came to that. =)

I should also mention here that another personal highlight, apart from
getting into the soundcheck and seeing the show, was of course meeting all
of the other Paperlaters and Genesis-related folk who were also on hand at
the gig: Tom Oastler, George German, (always nice to meet some fellow
Americans =) ) Osman, Simon and chums, Martin Dean, Dunc Philips, of course
Gary, and also the legendary Alan Hewitt, whom I actually sat next to during
the show. (Slumming in the 7th row, were you, Alan? Nice for you to say
it was due to the seating and not the company ;) ) I'm sure there may have
been many others whom I met that night....but the whole thing was such a
whirlwind that I'll have to apologize to any of you whom I may have left out.

Anyway, it was definitely a very, very big thrill to get to see Genesis
perform live again. And to those of you whom I hold nearest and dearest in
my heart over here on this side of The Pond, please know that you were there
with me every step of the way....I'd have brought you all along in my
suitcase if I could have!

Okay, okay......so I've rambled on for far too long. But here's hoping that
you enjoyed reading my review, as much as I did seeing the show to review in
the first place! =)