A special ‘thank you’ to Rachel for writing this amazing review of the Mama show at The Box in Crewe. Photos by Julie Thompson. 🙂
One Night In Crewe – Mama – 19th May 2012. Review by Rachel Powell.
Go back in time to December 2011 at The Box in Crewe. Here we said goodbye to Face Value, a regular on the Genesis tribute band scene. Just three months later, Face Value re-emerged at the Pacific Road in Birkenhead with a new drummer and for the first time…a bassist! All of this under a new name – Mama.
So here we are, 19th May 2012 back at The Box. Only this time, the original guitarist Chris O’Connell had another gig to perform so we had the keyboardist’s brother, Mark Comish to stand in for the night. More about that later.
We kicked off proceedings with Duke’s Medley, the old favourite opening number from the Face Value days, and it was clear from the outset that the sound was much improved now with Mark Conroy on bass and James Cooper featuring a ‘proper’ drum kit. The introduction from Behind The Lines had the original strength that I felt was missing before. We’re back in business!
Next came Turn It On Again and you couldn’t fail to notice how happy John Wilkinson was to be back up on stage. Despite the audience numbers being small, they were more than receptive from the start. Not surprising since the majority of the crowd remember the Face Value days and were happy to see them back on stage again – albeit with a couple of differences. Abacab and No Son Of Mine came up next which were well received.
Mama, performing Abacab at The Diamond in Sutton-in-Ashfield, 10th June 2012 (we didn’t have any video from The Box in Crewe, sorry):
We get to Many Too Many, the “greatest Genesis song never to be a hit” this version was great. Many Too Many segued very nicely into the closing section of The Musical Box, which has always been a favourite for many Genesis fans and also features one of Genesis’ finest individual moments so the expectations to get this right were high. They certainly didn’t disappoint. The original aggression of the song was back and went down a storm with the audience.
A little light relief with Misunderstanding and then the first foray into Genesis “Solo Land” with a very lively All I Need Is A Miracle, which replaced Jesus He Knows Me. This was followed by making a visit to where the bluegirls live with Ripples. The vocals were superb and Mark Comish’s guitar solo sent shivers down my spine. I’m sure I’m not the only audience member that night that felt the same way. We carry on with the ballad theme with Follow You Follow Me which always goes down well.
To close the first half, we had Domino, which has become a huge favourite with this audience member! This gave every member of Mama a chance to showcase their musical talents. I do think that Domino proved to the doubters that the Mama sound was much more complete compared to Face Value.
After the interval, we got the eponymous Mama, which was terrific. We descended into Genesis solo territory with Solsbury Hill. I was a little sceptical with John W’s voice sounding so much like Phil Collins’ that it scares me sometimes; that the song wouldn’t sound right. But I was pleasantly surprised that they were brave enough to include it in the setlist so early on, let’s just say we now know how Solsbury Hill would sound if Phil Collins sang it. The Secret World look did help I will admit!
Then came Squonk, which I thoroughly enjoyed as it’s a personal favourite. You couldn’t fail to notice the bass as you could feel the vibrations through the floor, which we never had at Face Value gigs. Having Mark C there really made you appreciate how good a bassist Mike Rutherford actually is! We head back into Genesis solo land with Spectral Mornings, a very ambitious choice for the first night. Mark C didn’t disappoint with a performance that Steve Hackett would be proud of, despite not having any actual rehearsal time with Mama beforehand. That feat in itself was impressive.
Next came ‘audience participation time’ with Throwing It All Away, I have no problem with the song at all, however, the “dee-da-daaays” do carry on for too long. I know that was what Phil Collins did, but it still annoys me nonetheless. My one criticism so far! It did keep the Phil Collins fan contingent happy though, they were further appeased with the last foray onto solo ground with In The Air Tonight, which is my all-time favourite song, so I was expecting a lot from this one. James C’s drums really came into play and sounded even better than in the Face Value days. Nothing detrimental to the original electronic drum kit used before, I simply feel that the electronic kit didn’t do In The Air Tonight true justice.
Now we get to my personal highlight of the night with a piece that Face Value fans have been asking to hear for some time. Peter Gabriel era fans were catered for with a barnstorming performance of the In The Cage medley, probably the best medley Genesis ever did. I failed to find any fault with it and sent shivers down my spine once again. John Comish was solid on keyboards considering the very complicated pieces favoured by Tony Banks on innumerable occasions. Another pivotal moment in Genesis history and Mama did it justice and I thought it was very ambitious to try a complicated number like In The Cage so early on.
The medley segued into Afterglow, which is another fan favourite, my throat was very sore from singing along by this point. The ‘nostalgia-fest’ continued with Los Endos, which again showed every band member’s capabilities. I think that James C got to indulge on the drums and really showed what a great drummer Phil Collins was. Los Endos went down well in the Face Value days and continued to do so with Mama.
We jumped forward in time with the classic Genesis closing numbers with Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch, which again kept the Phil Collins fan contingent happy and the audience was jumping by this point.
We head back in time, (Doctor Who would’ve been exhausted right now) back to the Peter Gabriel era for the encores of Carpet Crawl, with very soulful vocals and I Know What I Like, with more audience participation during the chant to Stagnation, which kept both Gabriel and Collins fans happy. This audience certainly knew what they liked after this performance.
There are a few minor tweaks here and there, but since it was only their fifth gig, I’m sure we can let Mama off just this once. Judging by their performance, which I thought sounded even better than the first night, they’ll go far and Mama/Face Value fans will have plenty to look forward to.
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