Date: 20th June 2007.
Venue: Sazka Arena, Prague.
In Attendance: “Guy can’t dance”, “In the air T. Wise”, “Joe son of mine”, “throwing it Paul away”.
Occasion: Genesis Turn It On Again.
My brother Guy is the world’s biggest Genesis fan. As a consequence I too have gown up listening to the group. This should explain why we were heading all the way to Budapest to catch the latest stop on their Turn It On Again tour. Except we aren’t going to Budapest, we’ve been relocated, we are going to Prague. Why aren’t we simply going to one of the UK tour dates you ask? Too obvious; that’s exactly what they would expect us to do. Journey with us as we relive our lives with what we tell you…
“In the beginning…”
As I awake at dawn I am wondering whether it wouldn’t be easier to catch a Hercules from nearby Brize Norton rather than spend the first few hours of the day getting to Birmingham airport – heaven knows they waste enough fuel circling their war birds over my house all day, and this way we could parachute into the Sazka Arena later that night!
Instead it is bright and early at Oxford station and a little way down the line we are in B to the Ham. We pass through security in readiness to board Flight 1984; knowing that terrorists like to keep it funky they confiscate my deodorant, luckily they let me keep my toothpaste otherwise I would have smelt worse than Cap’n Jack Sparrow scourge of the high…altitudes…then it’s past the Pigs and through to Animal Farm with the Stags and the Hens, straight to Bates Wine Bar for 2nd breakfast (me: Guinness. Brother Guy: Guinness, swine sandwich.)
Having landed safely on the continent and passed through immigration (not without an appraising look at my Community League tee by the official) we step out into the blazing sunshine and make straight for the arena where we are to exchange our Budapest tickets. This done it is to the city centre we must go; luckily nearly every underground train system in the world is completely fool-proof so despite the language barrier it is plain sailing.
At the foot of St. Wenceslas’s statue we meet our gracious host Joe – a friend of a friend’s friend – and we are whisked away to his awesome apartment. After we freshen up the evening can truly begin and it does so in great style – some beers in a park full of pretty girls perched high on the hill overlooking the equally pretty city. Paul joins us soon after and quickly catches up on the beers before we head to the tram.
At the tram stop BG sets off an incredible chain of events, not content with leaving the tickets in the flat first time out he now leaves them on the counter of a newsagent as we purchase a beverage for the journey. One stop later a look of horror crosses his face – as the doors open he and Joe are out of the blocks and sprinting back up the street!
Well, if they hadn’t have got the tickets back safely I probably wouldn’t be writing this, as it is they were right where he left them and so we continue the journey just slightly sweatier and slightly more out of breath.
The concert is actually to take place not inside the arena itself but in a temporary arena constructed in the parking lot. It is surely a much more incredible atmosphere here out in the open at sunset with thousands of Genesis fans milling around. We have other things to take care of however; remember the run for the tickets? Well BG is still out of breath and on the verge of an asthma attack so we quickly locate the medics! As the event hasn’t even started yet they are all happy to accommodate him, the girls especially seem keen to make sure he gets the utmost care…
The medic area is situated behind the main stage and as we come out BG turns to the right and casually meanders through a hoard of florescent jacketed officials straight into the VIP area! It is only the confused and bemused looks of his brother and Joe that stop his carelessness with the tickets ending with a spot in the front row – unbelievable!!
As soon as we are all back together a drum roll sounds – BG loses his head and runs skipping with delight headfirst into the crowd and disappears from sight as Genesis announce their arrival onstage.
The stage itself looks incredible, the band are elevated on a multi-layered platform whilst the huge backing screen juts up high into the balmy night air.
Genesis start with ‘Duke’s End’, then they ‘Turn It On Again’ to rumbustious cheers before transitioning into up-tempo classics ‘No Son of Mine’ and ‘Land of Confusion’. Before too long a drum solo played out on my shoulder is spilling beer on my shoes and I know before I even turn around that BG is back in the fold.
It has been 15 years since Genesis last turned it on for a tour, a long wait for some fans, and a near lifetime for others. Phil announces a medley of some of their earliest tunes, as they play old videos and images of the band pass across the screen behind them. Standing next to my younger brother who has grown up on Genesis music I can’t help but have a strong feeling of the passage of time, from Live Aid to those first holiday’s with the cassettes wearing out in the deck to the here and now.
The solar system gathers round to listen as it gets dark, with the bright quarter Moon and Venus later joined by Jupiter in the clear night sky.
Many years may have passed but Phil can still do his incredible Mr. Tambourine man dance to ‘I Know What You Like In Your Wardrobe’ and a light-hearted demonstration of the ‘Domino’ effect makes sure that the crowd is equally lively as we lend vociferous support to proceedings. It is through the crowd we go too, as we casually make our way to a better vantage point much nearer the front.
An emotional section of the show begins with ‘Mama’ and ‘Throwing It All Away’. The lights go down and Phil produces a torch for some insane Jack-o-Lantern stylings and spooky noises introduce one of their very best songs – ‘Home by the Sea’. As the long instrumental section plays out Phil sits at the kit like a king at home on his throne and I am wondering what more can be done to top this, I do not have to wonder long because Phil and Chester Thompson have some tricks up their sleeve and no mistake!
What follows is simply one of the most amazing musical sights and sounds I have ever witnessed – a drum duet – a drum duet played on their drum stools before slowly moving to the drum kits themselves and with much intentional clashing of sticks in between at a blistering pace – simply awesome.
A wonderful feeling washes over me and I am taken to another plane as Mike Rutherford’s Guitar riffs and Tony Banks’ Piano solo draw out the fantastic ‘Ripples’, this is so rock and roll, I wish I had a girl to kiss right now.
Maybe I do, maybe she is here and she just seems to have that ‘Invisible Touch’ yeah! My very favourite song is the last of the set and it is performed with all the power and gusto that it ever was.
The band leave the stage to great applause, it has been an incredible night but as the stage hands make a quick adjustment to the set we know it is not quite over yet…the inclined platform can mean only one thing – I Can’t Dance, I can’t talk, the only thing about me is the waay that I walk!
The very last song is ‘Carpet Crawlers’ – “you’ve got to get in to get out” – that’s life.
The show is over and the crowd is dispersing into the night. Merchants surround the exit, they are just standing round selling everything and BG is buying, meanwhile I trail in his wake checking everything is in place…
As the night fades into bars and beers through the narrow old town streets the comrades are reduced to a trio once again. We return to the park and sit awhile under the light blue summer night sky with a great feeling of contentment and head to bed at the rise of the summer solstice sun…these are the days of our lives…
Barely 24 hours since or arrival we begin to make our way home via a pizza and a last stop in the park, then it’s back up into the sky until Airstrip One looms below and we descend back to the Land of Confusion.