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Let Me Fly
Ray Wilson Makes Me Think Of Home
German Genesis Fanclub: 25th anniversary

titelFor the very final first time

If you are up to something you better start doing it right. Phil has played countless gigs all over the world. An aural attack a couple of years ago forced him to slowly retire from the stage.
But Phil were not Phil unless he properly said good-bye. He has lost interest in big extended tours, so there will be just one more. With a wink and a nod he called it the First Final Farewell Tour. It is an ironic twist of his history that, of all concert tours, the First Final Farewell Tour will be the longest one in his career.


Genesis on tour - individually

When rumours about a farewell tour came up in 2003, Phil had the idea to perform in countries he had played only once before, if at all. That was a big blow for his European and American fans who would not see him anymore after his Trip Into The Light tour in 1997. But it did not turn out that way. Instead of gigs in the Pacific region, Australia and South America, a five-week tour through Europe was announced. The First Final Farewell pt 1. There were two pleasant comebacks in his live band in the shapes of Leland Sklar on bass and Chester Thompson on drums. There was another curiosity that made the Farewell shows even more attractive: Mike + The Mechanics were to open for Phil on all open air shows. It fits the picture that Ray Wilson later told his audience at the Acoustic Shows if he could be in the line-up, too. So Phil, the Mechanics and Ray were on tour simultaneously – as were Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Canadian cover band The Musical Box. A somewhat absurd situation. Never before was there such a mass of concerts for Genesis fans. It was as if they all wanted to say good-bye “just to be on the safe side”, but they never were on stage at the same time. Not even Mike and Phil. Pity.


...but seriously: Goodbye!

The only thing about the European gigs that points at Phil once having been a part of Genesis is the circumstance that messieurs Stuermer and Thompson share lots of Genesis live history between them. The songs, however, were a sampler from a solo career that spans almost a quarter of a century enlivened by one and a half drum duets. As opposed to previous tours, the songs closely resembled the studio versions, and Phil remained obstinate about keeping the set list unchanged despite protestations of his most loyal fans. On My Way was dropped after a couple of shows, while Always was added as an encore for some shows, but apart from that nothing changed. Phil performed his hit mix in a very professional and occasionally breathtaking way. Everywhere he stood on stage and said “This is my last tour” – and he was booed everywhere for it. Over and over again Phil made clear: I am serious about it. He did not fail to thank everybody for their support, even back in the days of Genesis. Genesis? Oh right, I dimly remember.


The rubber duck finale

Few weeks after the European tour Phil plays North America. Testify may have been a flop, but the arenas are full or sold out. The Americans were given a glimpse of Genesis. Misunderstanding, that song Phil wrote when he was lovesick and that gave Genesis their commercial breakthrough in the States – Misunderstanding was performed. Okay, so it’s his song, but it still sent shivers down one’s spine. People were ecstatic. Again, Phil would say “This is my last tour” every evening, the audience would boo, and then he would sometimes say “I will be back”. A land of confusion indeed.
Part two of the First Final Farewell tour somewhat turns into a mocking of the European tour. This was not helped much by a postcard in the tour programme on which Phil would explain European idiosyncrasies to Americans. Well, doesn’t matter. Ft. Lauderdale marks the end of the second Farewell tour leg while, for Sussudio, the crew drops not confetti but rubber chickens onto the stage. Meanwhile, the debate about his first final farewell tour continued.


All Unquiet In The East

After the celebrated North American tour there ensued a silence in Phil’s camp. It is not until January that rumours are confirmed: The tour will not be continued before October 2005. At first there was talk of a two part tour with a Christmas break. Yet again, no luck for the “rest of the world”. This time most shows were announced for Eastern Europe. Add to that some rather exotic tour locations such as Tel Aviv, Beirut and Dubai and it proves a good move because Phil had not played here before at all. It does not take wonder that the shows in Helsinki, Tallinn and Prague sold out in no time at all. In the meantime, additional show have been scheduled for all three cities. Poland, on the other hand, will host no show at all.


Miscalculated? An expensive patchwork farewell

All of a sudden Germany was treated to the Farewell tour again. Two shows were scheduled for the brand new LTU arena, equalling more than 100,000 tickets. They were labelled benefit shows at the same time. Ticket prices soon became a source of annoyance. One had to shell out between 57 and 92 EUR [roughly US$70 to 110; translator’s note], 17 EUR of which go directly to the Little Dreams Foundation. It is fascinating to see just how high the “basic” and “inevitable” costs run for two benefit shows celebrating LTU airline’s anniversary in the LTU(!) Arena. Fans on the British Isles did not have to think long whether they wanted to journey to Dusseldorf or Prague. After all, the Collins camp relented and announced the “only UK concert 2005” to be played in Glasgow. A couple of weeks later another (only?) UK concert was added for Glasgow. Irritations continued.
The tour dates appears only in a slow trickle. The tour t-shirts for autumn could well be labelled “Patchwork Farewell Tour 2005”. Fans had to wait very long for concert announcement for the shows they were promised in Greece, Turkey and Ireland. Then another show was announced for Belfast (the “only UK show in Northern Ireland”?) and Dubliners, too, can count themselves lucky that Phil will take his farewell (and a pile of money) from them. Top of the list is surely Bloomfield Stadium in Israel. One has to pay an average of a fifth of one’s monthly income to see Phil.


...til Death do us part

People in South America, Australia and Asia, however, still have lots of time to save up their money for the tickets. Contrary to previous plans, Phil is not going to play there because of the rehearsal schedule for the Tarzan musical. Next year Phil has private obligations such as his son’s schooling. This is what Phil explained in his forum. But he still wants to go there. He will try.
It is a peculiar situation. After three legs of his Farewell tour he has not been to any of the countries he actually wanted to go to on this tour. At the end of 2005 he will have played some 75 shows and counting. It may well turn out in the end that Phil takes the same amount of time for his Farewell as his former band colleague Peter Gabriel needs for a new record: an eternity. Who knows? Perhaps it is similarities like these that will bring Genesis to reunite on stage – for a First Final Farewell tour.

 

by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt


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