Our next two shows take place at The Cluny in Newcastle followed by The Ferry Hotel in Eastham (on The Wirral). The first show is a Genesis show and the second is a free show we are using to showcase our new “hits” set list. So if you’re in the North East, grab your tickets for our Newcastle show over on our EventBrite page. If you’re in the North West, put the 31st in your diary, get making your costume and join us By The Sea for some ghoulish entertainment.
Interview with JW
We think it’s time for another chat with John W, so we collared him at the last Mama show (The Railway in Bromley Cross). You can read the full interview below:
Webmaster: Hi John! How’s it going?
JW: Great! Well, apart from Marko having an illness that affects his balance and hearing.
Webmaster: Oh no. How does that affect him then?
JW: Well when it was really bad, at Kinross actually, he could not hear anything and was feeling sick all the time. We did think about cancelling those two shows but so many people had booked that we felt it was best to carry on with them. Fortunately Marko got through both nights and didn’t fall off the stage (laughing). He’s much better now.
Webmaster: Glad to hear that. So he’s alright now then?
JW: Yeah he’s back to his usual self. Mad as that is (laughing).
Webmaster: So how did Kinross go? That was the venue where you played the “hits set” for the first time wasn’t it?
JW: Yeah, the first night Marko was poorly and we had to drop a couple of songs we were going to play as he really didn’t feel up to it. The second night, he felt better and so we did the full hits show. It went down really really well. Much better than I expected in fact and we all really enjoyed the challenge and the novelty of playing these new songs for us.
Webmaster: I trust the hits set went down well?
JW: There was a different crowd on the Saturday for that show. I mean, some came both nights but there did seem to be more females in the crowd on Saturday (laughing). The crowd on both nights, well I don’t like to sound boastful but they did give us a standing ovation both nights, which made it all worthwhile. The venue itself is a treat. Five star hotel with all the haggis for breakfast you can eat! Seriously though, great venue and we filled it Friday and nearly filled it Saturday night. The promoter expects to sell out both nights next year.
Webmaster: That seems to be a feature of the Mama shows this year. The crowds have increased a lot.
JW: Yeah they started around the time Dave Jones joined, which is why I tell him he can never leave (laughing again) and they have carried on this year. I think people are starting to realise that Genesis music can be played well by other musicians and I credit Steve Hackett for showing folk that.
Webmaster: So you think Steve’s tours playing Genesis have helped the tribute bands then?
JW: Definitely so in my view. Quite a few folk have come up to me at Mama shows and told me they didn’t think they would get the same “buzz” out of seeing other people play Genesis but Steve’s band, excellent as they are, changed their minds. I am not saying that Mama are in the same league as Steve’s band of course, but people are prepared now to give the tribute bands a chance it seems, and they do go away pleased and come back again.
Webmaster: Where do you stand on Steve’s shows then? Tribute band?
JW: Not in my view. Steve has the right to play these songs of course and whoever he picks to be in his band, you know they will be top top musicians. I still would prefer him playing a lot more of his solo songs though I have to say that, but again I respect why he has chosen to play what he plays. There was an interview with Nick Beggs recently which explains his thinking behind the decision for the Genesis Revisited shows. Good luck to him I say. He has earned it.
Webmaster: I take it you will be going to see Steve later this month?
JW: Sadly no as we play Newcastle the day after he plays Liverpool and it is not fair on Lisa my wife to be absent for two days on the run. I know people who have seen the show and loved it. I will just have to buy the DVD when it comes out.
Webmaster: Getting back to the hits set, how did that feel singing a totally different set for the first time?
JW: Well I had sung some of these songs in Face Value before but to be honest we wanted to keep the Mama “hits set” different to the old Face Value setlist. I was very insistent that there was to be no “Can’t Hurry Love” or “Two hearts” in our setlist for example.
Webmaster: Why was that?
JW: Out of respect for that band really. Those songs were two of the mainstays of the FV set and I felt that I had very much done them. Face Value was my life for over ten years and I loved being in it. It taught me so much about being in a tribute band and I will always be grateful to some of those guys, but there was no point trying to do what FV did. We chose to put some Peter Gabriel in there and John C suggested “Steam” and “Big Time”. James suggested we try “I Don’t Care Anymore” and really wanted a crack at “Take Me Home”. Marko and Dave wanted “Over My Shoulder” and the whole band wanted “The Living Years”. It is fun to sing and play these songs of course. We do play some of the FV hits set though as FV was mainly about the hits with some Genesis classics thrown in for good measure.
Webmaster: But why do the set in the first place?
JW: Well it all started when David Mundell the promoter at Kinross wanted us to play for two nights up there as one night is a long way to travel for one show. We really wanted to try and do two completely different sets and John C suggested we look at the hits of Genesis and solo stuff. This seemed to make sense to us as we will be doing this at a few venues next year where we can play two nights, with one set up, Actually the real reason is, we’re lazy and like just setting the gear up once (laughing). We did a “Genesis Prog” set on the first night and this new show on the second night, which worked very well indeed at Kinross, so we’re sticking to that format for our two nighters going forwards.
Webmaster: So there will be more of these shows then?
JW: Well yeah, but the Genesis shows will always be our main focus. It is just that when we had the idea to do this, several of our regular venues thought this was a great idea and booked us for two nights. We are doing two free shows in pubs to break these songs in a bit more. The Eastham Ferry Hotel in Eastham on the Wirral on 31st this month and The Station Tavern in Lytham on 27th November. Just to keep these songs fully up to the standards we set ourselves.
Webmaster: Okay so getting back to Genesis then, what new songs are you working on for 2016?
JW: Well at long last we are finally planning to perform the whole of the “Duke” album live in 2016. We already play “The Duke Suite” and it has long been a plan of ours to do this, so the wheels are now in motion. We are also looking at adding a couple of songs to the “prog set” which we will play at regular one night venues shows.
Webmaster: Sounds good! Any hints?
JW: Well we are looking at a song from “And Then There Were Three” and we’re bringing back “Spectral Mornings” for some shows. Also we’re looking at a really, really old song. The problem is, there is so much to choose in the Genesis canon that we can’t play them all.
Webmaster: That would be a good show. ALL the music of Genesis from start to finish (laughing)! Any news on the DVD?
JW: Yes we hope to have it finished this year and on sale around January. Sorry it has taken so long. We have brought a CD out though which sells very well at shows.
Webmaster: So looking ahead, how long do you see Mama continuing for?
JW: It’s like the Mafia. Once you’re in this band you can’t leave (laughing). No I want to get 10 years out of it at least so I hope you will still be interviewing me in five years time at least.
Webmaster: I hope so to. Thanks John.
JW: My pleasure.