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Ray Wilson Makes Me Think Of Home

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"I CAN Change...!"


After many Live And Acoustic performances either solo or in a trio in recent years Ray Wilson finally tours again - with a full band through mostly German clubs in September and October 2003.

He is supported by Ashley McMillan on the drums, his brother Lawrie McMillan on bass guitar and Brian MacAlpine on keyboards and the accordion. Assisted further by Amanda Lyon (backing vocals, keyboards – known from Live And Acoustic gigs) and Ray’s own brother and partner-in-crime Steve, the singer, songwriter and guitarist presents the whole range of his music.

The concerts offer lots of variety because they reflect the stylistic differences of the bands Ray used to play in.

The varied setlist ranges from the funny Swing Your Bag to rocking guitar songs in the styles of Stiltskin and Cut to acoustic versions of Genesis classics like Ripples, Lover’s Leap of The Carpet Crawlers to his first real solo album, the pop songs on Change.


Steve LawrieBetween songs Ray likes to tell stories about the development or the background of the songs. The stories do not appear studied, it’s as if a good friend told you them and there are different and new stories every night.

While his stories about his former colleagues of Genesis were occasionally too strong at the beginning of the tour, they later mature into anecdotes that express his respect and reverence for them. At one point he mentions that Phil Collins thanked him for a letter he (Ray) had sent to “PHIL COLLINS, GENEVA”. “That’s famous!”, he explained.

This anecdote opens the acoustic set which begins with a radically different version of In The Air Tonight. Ray performs this song (as can be heard on the Live And Acoustic CD) just with the guitar and Amanda’s backing vocals, which meets big applause from the audience. Early in the tour the acoustic part is very long and actually divides the concert into two halves. Fans who have seen full acoustic concerts just wait for the moment when the full band returns to the stage. At later concerts some of the songs were moved to the encores. The set list changed for almost every show.

The strength of Amandy Lyon’s voice comes out during the cover of One (by U2) when her voice is accompanied by Steve Wilson’s, but most of all when she sings Don’t Give Up as a duet with Ray.

Another very different version of a Genesis hit is a rendition of I Can’t Dance with lots of rock guitar. This is almost a whole new song. Both the band and the audience seem to have lots of fun with it and Ray uses the opportunity to make contact with the audience (as during No Son Of Mine and The Carpet Crawlers).

The rock songs, most of all the Stiltskin songs Footsteps, Inside, Sunshine And Butterflies and the Cut songs Gypsy and Ghost stand out from the set.


RayThe aggressiveness and the drive the musicians develop onstage are contagious. The Stiltskin material in particular appears more complete than on the album.

Sarah, which is another rock number on the album, is watered down a bit. Keyboarder Brian MacAlpine plays it on the accordion instead of the keyboards, and it does not do the song much good. On Not About Us, however, things are different. The accordion adds variety and a fitting atmosphere to the song.

Swing Your Bag is another highlight from the times of Guaranteed Pure. Ray Wilson seems a bit embarrassed when he presents it. He tells a long story about how the song developed, about his acquaintance Susan and about the difference between “bag” and “back”. This most simple of all songs on the setlist (except for Airport Song which was played only at a couple of gigs and which is even simpler) turns on the party mood.

With a big grin, Amanda Lyon comes up to Steve’s side to sing the backing vocals with him. Ray also grins into his microphone and imitates swinging a handbag while he sings the chorus. The fans start to dance along and ready their cameras. Even those people who experience Ray for the first time, will at least nod along.

After a show two-and-a-half hours you’ve had an entertaining evening without a special show, but with lots of great and varied music and a very friendly band.

The audience would wish for two things. On the one hand one hopes  that this cozy atmosphere of a Ray Wilson concert would never change: The musicians wave into the audience, smile, change the setlist around or repeat a verse if it fits the mood…

On the other hand one would wish that Wilson would one day do without various cover versions from the Genesis camp and perform his own material. Ray captivates the audience, whether he sings soft songs in a goosebump-inducing voice or whether he lets out the raw energy for more powerful numbers. Various examples from his new album that he played on this tour prove that he is a good songwriter in his own right.

It will be interesting to see which direction Ray’s music is going to take on his next album. He wants to begin work on that this year [2003] and it is loosely planned to be released around September next year [2004].


Band for the Change tour 2003:

Ray Wilson - Vocals, Guitar

Steve Wilson - Guitar, Backing Vocals

Amanda Lyon - Backing Vocals, Keys

Lawrie McMillan - Bass

Ashley McMillan - Drums

Brian MacAlpine - Keys, Accordion


Setlist of the Change tour 2003

(actually, this is a representative setlist from the gig on Sep 17, 2003 at the Elfenbein, Bielefeld, Germany)

Follow You Follow Me
Rest In Peace
Sarah
Change
Along The Way
Another Day
Beach
Sunshine And Butterflies
Inside
Footsteps
Ghost
Gypsy

Acoustic:

In The Air Tonight
One
Ripples
Not About Us
Don't Give Up


Beautiful Child
Yesterday
Gouranga
Hey Hey
Goodbye Baby Blue


encores:

Swing Your Bag
I Can't Dance
The Carpet Crawlers
Lover's Leap



by Melanie Hohmeyer
translated by Martin Klinkhardt
photos by Christian Gerhardts

Ray Wilson


Ray Wilson - Live And Acoustic (CD)

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Live-Unplugged-Album from 2001 with lots of Genesis-Songs and Rock-Classics.


Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited II (2CD)

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Double-album with new versions of Genesis classics and guest musicians such as Steve Wilson, Nik Kershaw, John Wetton, Steve Rothery or Simon Collins


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