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The Last Domino? Tour
Rated PG
Rocking Horse Music Club

Even people who do not know Ray Wilson's name have certainly heard his voice, either on Stiltskin's 1994 hit Inside or on Genesis' Congo at the end of the 90s.

Ten years after his time in Genesis there are many more reasons to go see a Ray Wilson show.

The first thing you will notice is that Ray does not play stadiums or big arenas. The opposite is true, and his shows takes place in clubs with a capacity of a couple of hundred people. Whether that was a conscious decision or whether he is not well-known enough to fill arenas, Ray's shows thrive on this proximity to the audience, a degree of intimacy that is lost in bigger venues.

There are a several reasons why people enjoy Ray's shows: His concerts offer something for those who expect Genesis songs, for those who want to his Ray's own songs and also for those who simply hope for good music music played by good musicians in a great atmosphere. The set list is usually a mixture of songs from the Genesis camp, own material and covers. It keeps changing because Ray's repertoire is gigantic, and he also likes to insert an unexpected song into the setlist.

Genesis songs are played frequently, though not at all shows. Ray performs an acoustic version of Follow You Follow Me (as on the '98 Genesis tour) or No Son Of Mine or Carpet Crawlers, where Ray now and then leaves the chorus to the audience. He also occasionally plays Calling All Stations, Shipwrecked and Not About Us, pieces Genesis did not have in their set list for the 2007 Turn It On Again tour.

Apart from that Ray also enjoys playing songs from the wider Genesis camp: Phil's In The Air Tonight may appear on the setlist as likely as Peter's Biko, and when he plays Another Cup Of Coffee one notices that Ray can sound like Paul Carrack. The bulk of the show consists of Ray's own songs. Inside is always played; it is, after all, the song with which Stiltskin stormed the UK charts and propelled Ray into the limelight. Another song he usually plays is Sarah from his Cut_ project. He has performed most of his own songs live so the list could go on and on.

After his stint with Genesis Ray has been touring with his own band which is called Stiltskin again. Ali Ferguson shares lead guitar duties with Ray, Lawrie MacMillan plays bass and his brother Ashley MacMillan is the drummer. They are touring without a keyboarder and so they occasionally splice in some tape synthesizer sounds – hardly noticable and therefore not a big issue.

When Ray and Ali play without the rest of the band they really show what they can do with their guitars. For instance, they sometimes play a kind of flamenco version of Land Of Confusion. Ali's long and howling guitar sounds make their cover of In The Air Tonight almost as dramatic as the original – and yet very different without the striking drum bit.

It is especially in the acoustic (bits of the) shows that we can hear the odd cover song. Knocking On Heaven's Door, No Woman No Cry. Lennon's Working Class Hero or Dylan's Blowing In The Wind.  Ray likes to point out that David Bowie had a huge influence on him before he plays Heroes or Space Oddity. When he decides to play The Eagles' Desperado he plays it unaccompanied.

Another very entertaining piece is a song Ray wrote in the early 90s with his band Guaranteed Pure, long before his time with Stiltskin and Genesis. He is the first to admit tongue in cheek that the melody and the lyrics of The Airport Song are not very sophisticated, but they always draw a laugh.

Ray Wilson & BandIn between songs Ray like loosen up the set with a couple of anecdotes. Sometimes it was a bit from his time in Genesis, something personal or something that would relate to the song he would play next. When he played Zarpen, a lovely, but small and unsung little town outside Lübeck, Germany, he greeted the audience with the words: „It's great to be here. Where am I?“ and won over the audience in an instant.

A look at the audience shows that Ray has a small but faithful community of friends who know the lyrics even to the more obscure songs. And if you attend several shows you can be sure to recognize some of the faces from the previous concerts.

When the shows ends after at least two hours you will be convinced that every single one of the 20 or so Euros you paid for the ticket was well worth it. And if you feel like it you can have a chat with Ray and the other musicians or pick up an autogram.

On your way home you will begin to wonder why the songs you just heard are hardly ever played on the radio. He would have earned it.

by Sönke Bohm
translated by Martin Klinkhardt
photos by Christian Baltrusch

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