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    German Genesis Fanclub: 25th anniversary

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    A visitor's report about the “Lamb-Event / 20 Years German Genesis Fanclub it” (10+11/03/2012)


    Middle of March. Another weekend. Somewhere in Hessia. Just another weekend? No! Some hundred people from all over Germany, from France, England, Sweden, Italy, Austria and the United States have come here to take part in the 20th anniversary event of the German Genesis Fanclub it.


    I have finally made it to a Genesis Fanclub event – and it is about my favourite album to boot! I gotta be there! As soon as it was announced I secured an accommodation and tickets for the event and the train. All set, let the day come. The tension rises and I realize that, as March 10 approaches, “all the pumping’s nearly over for my sweetheart”.


    Wrapped up in some powdered wool – I guess I'm losing touch,
    don't tell me this is dying, 'cos I ain't changed that much


    No, not dead, I haven’t changed that much indeed, though it feels different. Though Welkers is located quite in the middle of Germany I still have to get up rather early. Many of the guests will have decided to come by car (“metal motion comes in bursts, but the gas station can quench that thirst”), for me it is “and out of the subway”. Okay, it is only the bus to Berlin main station, “but I’m sure I hear a train” – from door to door in four hours (including half an hour’s wait for my connection in Fulda) is faster than I thought


    As I leave the train in Welkers I think “there's nothing I can recognize; this is nowhere that I've known” – but I realize I am on the right track when I notice several people who follow the signs to the community centre in a determined fashion. Five minutes later I have arrived, though “with no sign of life at all, I guess that I'm alone…”No, I am just early and have to wait until the final preparations are completed. Meanwhile other early birds arrive, we have a chat, I begin to hear screen names from the forum … though the majority of guests at the event are not active in the forum. As the time approaches when the doors will be opened, the waiting crowd begins to press forward to the door like the “Carpet Crawlers”“they're moving in time, to a heavy wooden door” and “there's only one direction in the faces that I see”, as it were.


    “At the top of the stairs, there's hundreds of people – running around to all the doors”… – and the doors finally open! After a little refreshment I head towards the exhibition and lo! – “a magnificent chamber meets his eye”! What a terrific assembly of all kinds of Lamb memorabilia on such small space: all kinds of media, ticket stubs, concert posters, press reports and even a couple of the original slides that were used for the Lamb shows. Incredible! Countless album and concert reviews give an impression of how hip Genesis were then – I would hardly have guess their cult factor was that high – even the German teenager magazine Bravo, hardly known to favour anything but mainstream music, praised Genesis!


    Welkers 2012I will be returning to the exhibition repeatedly for closer inspection during the breaks, but time is short, for the first part of the programme comes up. The Fanclub crew (Helmut, Peter, Bernd and Christian) offer us a humorous introduction to 20 years of fanclub life. Then they pass on the baton to Serge Morissette. He is responsible for light, show and stage design with The Musical Box.  He shows us his own video presentation about the development of the album and the corresponding tour. I find out many new details – Peter’s leather jacket, for example, can still be bought in the U.S. It is interesting to hear about the slides and the lightshow. Listening to him, it really shows how much insider knowledge Serge Morrisette has amassed through years of painstaking work – all the greater for us that he shares it with us. The effects of his work on the performances of The Musical Box show in a second video documentary, a kind of “making of” of the Lamb shows and the other activities by The Musical Box. Between these Serge also presents some demos he produced for the DVD that accompanied the 2007 (box set) re-issue of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Genesis had hired him to assemble a compilation of slides and photos which enables the watcher to get at least a small impression of the show. These demos look like the foundation for the second, far more sumptuous presentation in the second video block. But first, a break.


    “The scent grows richer, he knows he must be near” – – I follow the scent of fresh coffee and also have a delicious piece of fresh cake with it. Having fortified myself I spend time to check out the collector’s market that make up The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging, as it were, all over the venue. The four or five stands offer very rare vinyl, vintage concert posters, videos, promo-CDs, books and magazines of all kinds, Genesis (and related) boxsets and other collectibles. “Everyone’s a sales representative, wearing slogans in their shrine” – at the Italian stand one would like to hope that the seller has carried nostalgia so far as to quote the prices in Lire … unfortunately he does not. If you (like me) lack the “collector’s compulsion” gene you will be able to contain your spending.


    “Each person can’t go very far” – take your seat again, for the second video is coming up block with the concert film. It sounds a bit like watching TV together and I admit that, before the event, I thought “yeah, right, a bit of video and so on”. I had no idea just how wrong I would be. “In a glare of a light, I see a strange kind of sight” – Serge Morissette has undergone the gargantuan labour of putting together a complete Lamb concert movie from countless film snippets that were mainly taken by members of the audience on super-8. Where there were absolutely no moving pictures he used photos of the stage or the slides. The soundtrack was provided by TM Productions, who did a terrific job at painstakingly creating a beautiful new master of the legendary show at the Shrine Auditorium (24/1/75). The audio from that show can be heard on the Archive 1967-1975 box, albeit with Peter Gabriel’s notorious new vocals. TM uses Peter’s 1975 vocals. One is gobsmacked by the excellent sound quality that was prepared from the source recording. Serge then aligned the film bits with the sound so that – and this is their great feat – you feel as if you were watching a Genesis show from the Lamb tour in 1974/5. The crazy thing is that I soon forget I am watching a film. Okay, I am aware that the year is 2012 and I am in Welkers and it is “just a film”. But it is a film that has me and many others spellbound. Of course, the video quality is little more than abysmal in some places, but it does not matter at all. The longer the film goes on the more a certain line runs through my head: “Is this the way out from the endless scene? Or just an entrance to another dream?”


    KatrinThe shows were not filmed professionally back then, so this film is the closest thing to a proper concert video. It is hardly up to today’s demands for audio and video quality, but it has its own appeal, creating an authentic atmosphere – and sending shivers down my spine. This experience alone was worth the trip – for the film was only shown once each day and is, for legal reasons, not available to buy or download, which makes it even more special. It is a film many fans would love to have in their collection. At least TM has intimated that he may make the audio track available to bootleg collectors.


    After such a spellbinding event I realize that “lips are dry, throat is dry”, so the way leads to the “singles bar”, where food and drink are available less than extortionate (actually most reasonable) prices. A bit further down the bar the motto is “it is shaken, not stirred, cocktails on the roof…”, for Katrin, aka the Tamed Lamia, has opened her cocktail bar with a list of drinks she has invented herself. She serves drinks with neat names that refer to Genesis songs or characters from the lyrics – great fun and absolutely delicious, too!


    Like a supper it is cooking in your hometown…

    The evenings, particularly the Saturday evening, are reserved for social encounters and getting to know the others. Guesthouse Buch serves up everything traditional Hessian cooking has to offer, and they seem to know neither curfews nor an end to their beer supplies. These meet-ups are, as it were, “some company unthought of” –  particularly when you meet someone from the forum and have to match screen name and real name and deal with the fact that not everybody looks like their avatar (“I thought you already looked almost like Tony Banks!”)


    A nice long walk on Sunday morning revealed to a small group of Genesis fans the real reason why Welkers was chosen for the event. Just a few steps from the venue the rapids began (oh, alright, a mill stream), the not too narrow path we were walking on could be seen as a broadway; the lamb had been removed from the meadows and taxidermied for the exhibition, the famous Welkers porcupine had been hidden in a beaver habitat, and near Welkers station we could hear the subway sounds and, after some time, also the sounds of complaint. Which proved that “it’s all around me” – or as the motto of the event has it, “it is here – it is now”!


    by Jan Hecker-Stampehl, English by Martin Klinkhardt
    photos by Christian Gerhardts and Anneke Reinsperger

    it Fanclub


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