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    In October 1983 Genesis released their 13th album, simply titled Genesis, before the band went on an extended tour through North America. After that they played five shows in England – and no gigs at all in mainland Europe.

    Mike Rutherford explained that there were very few venues in England that could accommodate the installation of the gigantic lightshow. The musicians held it against the mainland Europeans that they had not received their previous albums and the 1981 tour in particular with full enthusiasm. Genesis had toured Europe almost every year; they had become something of a fixture, and so they apparently decided to make themselves a bit rarer in order not to reach the point of public non-interest. This decision was rather regrettable because the shows they offered was indeed special.

    There were no changes in the line-up which still consisted of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer, but the new light show was top notch. The lighting equipment filled more than two of the five trucks that carried the whole setup; it was worth more than $4m (at the exchange rates of the time). It weighed an enormous 30 tons. The light show was based on Varilites, as on previous tours. These special stage lights can emit 60 different colours and switch from one colour to another in 0.1 seconds. At the same time diameter and intensity of the light beam can be varied at will, and the spot can be turned 360 degrees in all dimensions. 

    Under the supervision of Alan Owen, who had been a light engineer with Genesis for many years, six equilateral triangles were built and hung with 200 Varilites that were put together in the shape of a giant hexagon above the stage. The breathtaking effects that were created with this made the enormous efforts worthwhile – in fact, the effects are so impressive they are almost impossible to put into words. Not only the space above the stage had interesting novelties, but the placing of the musicians on the stage was remarkable, too, and a departure for the band. For never before and never again did it happen that Tony Banks’ keyboards were set up in the middle of the stage. The audience would traditionally see Tony on the right side of the stage. It is not sure why he moved to the centre, but a view from above may provide a clue: The musicians were played roughly in another hexagon (rear left: Chester, rear right: Phil’s drumkit, rear centre: Tony’s keyboard; front left: Mike; front right: Daryl, front centre: Phil) matching the pattern of the lights.

    The new stage design was only the first of many interesting changes in this tour. The song introductions had always been something special in Genesis. Peter Gabriel brought them to perfection, while Phil Collins prefers to continue the tradition in a spartan form and on a different level. His announcements on the tour were rather calculated to interact with the audience than tell peculiar stories. When he welcomed the audience he would tell them that the city in which they were was the centre of the universe. After the strong applause he would add that we was going to tell the same nonsense the next day in the next city. His announcement “Tonight we will be playing new songs” (applause), “old songs” (more applause) “and perhaps even some really old songs” (enthusiastic applause) would also get the audience going. The highlight of Phil’s communication with the audience took place before Home By The Sea. It would begin with his excited yell “It’s audience participation time”, and then the complete audience was involved in the “ghosthunting”. The point of the exercise was to get in contact with the “other world”. For this the audience had to stretch their hands into the air which was supposed to make the lights on the ceiling go low. At the end of this “contact making” he asked everybody to put their hands behind their ears and shout: “Masturbation doesn’t make me deaf!” The latter part was dropped over time and not used at all in England. Another famous interaction with the audience led to Illegal Alien. The band put on dark sunglasses; Phil also wore a checkered jacket that was slightly too tight for him and a big radio with a cassette deck. After complaining about the hardships of the tour (“Every night different audiences, different cities, every night different hotel rooms, different girls, different positions, different musicians…”) he held up the radio to his ear and listened to bits of several other songs, e.g. Van Halen’s Jump, Genesis’ Mama or assorted solo songs by Phil – the selection woud vary over time. Funnily enough, a couple of roadies came on stage and sang along during the chorus as a backing choir on their five nights at the NEC Birmingham; this did apparently not happen in the U.S. or Canada.

    That was only one of many changes the set would undergo in the course of the tour. The medley (1) at various times consisted of:

    - Eleventh Earl Of Mar / Squonk / Firth Of Fifth (in lowa und Milwaukee);
    - Eleventh Earl Of Mar / Behind the Lines / Firth Of Fifth / Musical Box (in Los Angeles);
    - Eleventh Earl Of Mar / The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway / Firth Of Fifth / Musical Box (in Kansas)

    Carpet Crawlers was alternately played and dropped, and so was Misunderstanding. Turn It On Again was extended by Phil to introduce the band and thank the audience. Brief cover versions of songs such as Everybody Needs Somebody (To Love), Satisfaction and In The Midnight Hour were built into this part of the song and, again, underwent considerable changes. Occasionally they played a bit of Police’s Every Breath You Take, and the UK audience were treated to and reacted less than pleased to Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon. Really confusing, all in all.

    The tour was a bit success again because it offered something for every fan. Two remarkable facts ought to be mentioned in the end: Audiences of the Mama tour were the last (so far) to see Mike play the double-neck guitar. The instrument was a remnant of the 70s Genesis and it fell out of use after the tour. A couple of dates had to be rescheduled in January and February because Phil had problems with his voice. Soon after the tour an official concert video was released: Genesis Live – The Mama Tour was recorded during the NEC shows in England. Unfortunately the opportunity was missed to give the fans a whole show. As far as the variations in the songs the video remains pale when compared with the real tour.

    by Peter Schütz and Mike Jackson
    translated by Martin Klinkhardt

    Genesis


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