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    Genesis vs. Stiltskin: 20 Years And More

    Ray Wilson & Band live on DVD/2CD


    It took him until 2014 before Ray Wilson released his first concert DVD. There had been a first attempt, of course, with the Genesis Classic concert in Poznan, Poland, but the quality of the footage forbade any use except as a bonus DVD with selected songs, a review of which you can find here. In 2012 the decision was made to film two shows for a DVD release. The first part of the plan was to record a show of the Ray Wilson quartet / quintet; so far, this has not been completed yet. A full band concert, however, has been filmed at their gig for Radio Trojka in Warsaw, Poland. The product is called Genesis vs. Stiltskin: 20 Years And More. It is a cross-section of Ray’s career, from the beginnings in Guaranteed Pure (The Airport Song) to Stiltskin (Inside) and Genesis (Calling All Stations) to his more recent output with songs like American Beauty and Easier That Way.


    The set comes in a fold-out digipak complete with a booklet. It contains the following songs:


    DVD:

    Ray Wilson 20 Years And More Genesis vs Stiltskin coverAnother Day
    Easier That Way
    Show Me The Way
    Lemon Yellow Sun
    That's All
    The Actor
    No Son Of Mine
    American Beauty
    Carpet Crawlers
    Change
    Sarah
    She's A Queen
    The Airport Song
    Tale From A Small Town
    Wait For Better Days
    Ripples
    Constantly Reminded
    Inside
    Mama
    Calling All Stations
    Congo


    inlayCD1:

    Another Day
    Easier That Way
    Show Me The Way
    Lemon Yellow Sun
    That's All
    The Actor
    No Son Of Mine
    American Beauty
    Carpet Crawlers
    Change
    Sarah


    backcoverCD2:

    She's A Queen
    The Airport Song
    Tale From A Small Town
    Wait For Better Days
    Ripples
    Constantly Reminded
    Inside
    Mama
    Calling All Stations
    Congo


    Band:

    Ray has not changed much in the line-up of his live band in recent years, so much of the variety comes from the various band concepts. Sometimes he came with a trio, sometimes as a quartet or even as a quintet. Then there are the Genesis Classic Ensemble, Stiltskin with and without strings and, albeit rarely, solo or duo shows. Ray has also fulfilled one of his dreams and played with an orchestra. In Warsaw we see the expanded Stiltskin band or, if you prefer that, a rockier Genesis Classis line-up.


    Ray Wilson: vocals, guitars
    Steve Wilson: guitars
    Ali Ferguson: guitars
    Lawrie MacMillan: bass
    Ashley MacMillan: drums
    Darek Tarczewski: keyboards
    Marcin Kajper: flute, sax
    Alicja Chrząszcz: violin
    Barbara Szelągiewicz: violin
    Anna Machowska: violin
    Agnieszka Kowalczyk: cello


    The songs one by one:

    Another Day has come in many forms, these days even more frequently in the band version. On the DVD it is a very pleasant version that has found common ground between acoustic guitars, piano and strings and classic rock instruments. This might by the definitive version of a Ray Wilson classic; fifteen years after its release the song has lost none of its class.
    Easier That Way showcases how finely the band are tuned to each other. Everything is on the spot, the mix is excellent and the strings can be heard very nicely. The song stays close to the original, which is hardly surprising since it was brand new when it was recorded. Show Me The Way and Lemon Yellow Sun are other solid performances of classy Ray Wilson songs with hardly any changes in the arrangement. For Lemon Yellow Sun this finally means another forceful band version with Ali Ferguson in high spirits.
    The live set contains pleasantly few Genesis songs. That’s All is one of those, and it may well be the song that fits the least on this DVD. No Son Of Mine, on the other hand, is a song Ray has already made his own when he was in Genesis and it fits him perfectly. That’s All has remained an odd one out, perhaps because it is so closely linked to Phil Collins’ voice. The string arrangement and the saxophone solo are a welcome addition; the song seems more compact than it did with Genesis..
    The Actor is the first song in the set that was treated to a whole new intro, a fine combination of piano and saxophone that does not allude at all to the melody or topic of The Actor. The intro works very well, and it provides both musicians an opportunity to shine. Strings and electric guitars work exceptionally well together during the calm first part of The Actor. American Beauty has become quite an audience favorite despite its newness.
    Carpet Crawlers is another Genesis song Ray has made his own. Only recently has he sung Steve Hackett’s version of this classic, and he has also performed it several times live with him. But Carpet Crawlers has been a staple in the live set since the Calling All Stations tour. Though Ray’s voice has changed over the years and he finds it audibly harder to hit the high notes the song is still a gem.

    Change introduces a part that is more acoustic, which actually boils down to the electric guitars being replaced with acoustic ones. The performance of this important song in Ray Wilson’s repertoire is spot on. Sarah is another staple, although it has probably reached the end of its time and could be replaced with other Millionairhead songs. She’s A Queen completes the acoustic part, well, almost, for the inevitable Airport Song follows with a big introductory story, and the electric guitars return. The Airport Song is a staple in Ray Wilson’s set. Considering the weightiness of many of his songs this one always offers pleasant variety. Tales From A Small Town and Wait For Better Days are relatively new and very popular with the fans, so it was a good idea to include them on the DVD.

    The bag of classics is opened towards the end of the show. First there is Ripples, a standard live song of Ray’s, in an excellent arrangements, followed by Constantly Reminded, one of the best songs on the brilliant SHE album. Stiltskin’s smash hit Inside (with a fine string intro) and Mama put a rock end to the main set. The encores keep up the momentum, though. Those who looked in vain for material from Calling All Stations will now be reconciled. It is neither Shipwrecked nor Not About Us – those have been played to death – but a powerful Calling All Stations. Congo, a song Ray used to detest, brings to concert to a close. Interestingly, Congo used to be played as an opening song before.

    DVD - video and audio:

    There were many questions about the sound before the release: It is 5.0 surround sound, i.e. the subwoofer has been left out of the mix. According to Yogi Lang this has practical reasons – it avoids a wrong bass sound because the bass management in various AV receivers is rather inconsistent. The only downside is that you will probably not enjoy the sound if you play it through those terrible computer speakers. If you have a home cinema set in your living room you should have no problems. The surround sound has just a subtle spatial mix. After all, concerts are usually no surround experience when it comes to individual instruments. Still, the rear speakers play back the strings in an unobtrusive manner. The live sound comes across very fine on the DVD.
    The video is very good, too. This was an area Ray had had much trouble with in the past. Here he is happy with it. The stage lighting is fine and the camera work is very good. All in all, a good job for Ray’s first real live DVD.
    The DVD contains the full two hours of the concert as well as a brief intro of music from the song She’s A Queen that is used before the band comes to the stage.

    The bonus material is a short making of (around 14 minutes). With his interview partner Ray covers the period from his time in Genesis to Change up to his current album Chasing Rainbows. They also discuss the particulars of the venue.


    Technical details:

    Format: DVD/2CD digipak

    video (DVD): 16:9 Bildformat, PAL RC2

    audio (DVD): Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.0, dts 5.0 Surround


    All in all:

    The choice of songs is very good with very few exceptions, the set is well balanced while the performance is outstanding. Video and audio are great, so is the band; you also get the “making of” as a bonus and the full show on two CDs. There is nothing there to moan about. Well done, Mr Wilson. And about time for the DVD.


    by Christian Gerhardts, English by Martin Klinkhardt


    order from:

    amazon-uk | amazon.com


    Links:

    Chasing Rainbows - review
    Unfulfillment - review
    She - review
    The Next Best Thing - review
    Change - review
    Millionairhead - review
    Calling All Stations - review
    The Mind's Eye - review

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