niedziela, 24 lutego 2013

Music from the Balcony [ENG]

After a tough morning I decided to sit in front of my computer and look through the Facebook. As usual you scroll down over and over again and there's actually nothing interesting but you carry on anyway, until you realise that your tea, that was pretty hot some seconds ago, is already cold. And suddenly I see some new posts that are quite interesting: The Paul Menel Band's concert was cancelled and on their place Ray Wilson appeared. The show was scheduled on 22.02.13 in Teatr Wielki im. Stanisława Wyspiańskiego, Katowice. The others included on the DVD recording act were RPWL and Alchemy by Clive Nolan.

As far as I couldn't believe it, I decided to call Ray's manager. Some minutes later I knew that it was 100% true, so without wasting time I got myself a ticket for a show, ticket for a train and I booked a hotel room. Wilson's DVD was titled 20 Years and more, so this means that it should contain the songs from all periods of his career, starting from Guaranteed Pure's Swing Your Bag from 1993 and ending with his latest solo album Chasing Rainbows (to be released in April 2013). Since Ray played lots of Genesis Classic shows recently, you may thought that this show was going to be unique. I mean lots of old stuff that wasn't played for a very long time.

Obviously I couldn't forget about the RPWL. I saw them live back in April 2012 (photos here) and I was really impressed. The live presentation of Beyond Man And Time album was breathtaking. You could only understand the whole concept and the plot of the cd after seeing the live performance. After that night I thought to myself it would be cool to do a reedition of the album with the live DVD material. It turned out that they were going to do it in a way. I was really excited to see both of those amazing bands live at one place. But well, this wasn't all that Katowice offered me for that evening. The main act of the evening was provided by Clive Nolan and his musical called Alchemy. Actually I did not know anything about the man, apart from the fact he was a member of Pendragon and Arena, but somehow it was all I actually wanted and needed to know. I thought to myself, that I could always do the research if I really enjoy the show. 

22nd February finally appeared on the calendar, however the start of the day wasn't that good. It all began with a dream, in which I stayed at home that long, that I was still in Łódź when the concert was in progress. When I finally woke up I looked at the watch and realised it's still an hour till the alarm clock rings. Luckily in reality everything went better than expected. Train was in Katowice 10 minutes late, but it actually didn't matter. There were some works done to develop the Train Station and some repairs done in the city center. This made my journey to the hotel a bit more difficult but still it wasn't that bad at all.

When I got into my hotel room and looked through the window, I started regretting I didn't take my camera with me. The view showing a part of Katowice's city center was astonishing. Some time later I found out where RPWL stays for the night. When I was leaving the hotel I saw Yogi Lang, who was getting inside. We did a small talk and then both of us continued their journeys. They were playing after Ray, so they had a lot of free time.

From the outside Teatr Śląski couldn't be described as interesting, comparing to... let's say, Spodek. But from the inside it was really nice. On 17:00 I entered the exact place where I was going to sit and watch the show. The first impression was very positive. I was on the first of two balconies and the view was just perfect. And what's interesting I had a very comfortable sit while the people on my left had to sit on chairs... There were a few complaints about the places where people should sit, but after a time all those problems were solved and we could finally wait for the live act to start.

Ray Wilson
I haven't seen Ray performing for quite a long time. The last ones were in Polish Radio Trójka (see photos here) and a few days later in Poznan (Genesis vs Stilskin) at UEFA Euro Fanzone. Obviously I thought that Ray and co are going to play songs from his long and quite successful career. But when I saw the people who appeared on stage I became a bit doubtful. Ray, Steve, Darek, Alicja, Basia, Ania & Agnieszka. This looked to me a bit more like Genesis Classic Quartet squad, but ok, let's ignore it and see what's going to happen. They started with Follow You, Follow Me. Next ones were Sarah and Lemon Yellow Sun, one of my favourite songs from She. It made me smile and sing along with Wilson. Continuing this we heard Tale From a Small Town, from Unfulfillment. Now that was time for a short story. It was about the first time Ray visited Poland back in 1998 with Genesis during Calling All Stations Tour. From that story I realised, that I stayed at the same hotel as they did now, and Genesis did then. Ray also commented on the weather, which wasn't that pleasant. But I believe it was much colder in 1998. That was also an announcement for the next song - Not About Us. However Darek Tarczewski decided to play the intro from The Lamb Lies Down On  Broadway and then moving softly through various random stuff to the intro of the 'proper song'. He really knows how to push his instrument to the limit. Later on the band played two songs from two first Ray's solo albums. The title track from Change, and The Actor, from The Next Best Thing. I love the first one, even though I probably have heard this on each Ray's concert I have attended (this means twelve times). The second one on the other hand is rarely played but is great as well.

Within time Genesis songs started to appear more often in the setlist, starting with That's All. Before Shipwrecked Ray told us another story. A story of his old friend, Yogi from RPWL. He was jealous of the girls from string section in Ray's band. I guess RPWL next tour will be with string section said Wilson. Another Day was the next song to be played. A song about Ray's friend who killed himself. Later on Ray performed No Son of Mine from We Can't Dance, First Day of Change from Unfulfillment and Carpet Cralwers, which Ray recorded with Steve Hackett not a long time ago. Mama also turned out on the setlist, which lately appeared quite often on Ray's concerts. However this version was much more different that the one I heard in Poznań last year. The string section took the foreground and did their best. But it wasn't their last world. Ripples and instrumental version of Entangled (played by Darek with Basia) showed the real strength of the section. Then Basia and Alicja played Vivaldi Intermezzo which softly went through to the intro of Inside. I love it when one songs is connected with the other in this way. One ends where the other begins.

Musicians got out of stage, but the audience wanted more. They request met with the answer. Another two songs were performed: The Airport Song from Swing Your Bag and Peter Gabriel's cover - Solsbury Hill. Overall Ray and his band performed 20 songs in about 2 hours. But wasn't there too much Genesis? Well, it definitely didn't look like a concert promoting Ray's 20th anniversary in music industry. But we don't know, why the setlist looked like this. All we know is, that Ray will play a concert in Radio Trójka on 14th April to finish his DVD. It will probably be full band including Ali Fersuson and MacMillan brothers. Shame they were not here... Don't you think that the second concert might bring more interesting songs from Ray's career? Possibly, since he already played a lot Genesis stuff and certainly he is not going to repeat the repertoire. Hopefully...

A little bit dissapointed with Ray's performance, I thought that RPWL will do the job perfectly. Obviously I already knew how will the whole show look like, but still I was excited. Every single show from Beyond Man And Time had its animations, special outfits and other things. You could see and old man talking (Transformed), a blind man (Beyond Man And Time) and a fisherman with a fishing rod with a heart on it (The Fisherman). I adore Yogi's calm and warm voice, Kalle Wallner's guitar skills are unbelievable but the rest of the band are also fantastic musicians who do their best. You simply want to listen to their live music on and on!

After those eleven songs a question appeared: what's next? Will we hear some more or is it the end? Yogi clarified it: We couldn't leave you without playing this song. In that particular moment I screamed: Roses! Some people repeated my action and Yogi with his calm voice introduced his old friend, who have already played that day. First few notes came in and I knew the dream was coming true. Ray appeared on stage and started singing. In April 2012 I heard Roses with Yogi and I really liked it. This time they performed a duet. Ray did not sing the whole song alone. Obviously the audience also sang the song on the chorus. I think that this song was the time when people were having best time during the whole concert. That's not really strange, it's a wonderful song, written by a great musician and performed by a group of professionals.

You may think that RPWL played shorter than Ray. It's 20 songs against 12. But let's not forget that RPWL is a true prog rock band and their songs are simply longer. That's the reason why both of these concerts lasted a bit less than 2 hours.

Alchemy by Clive Nolan
The last one to perform was Clive Nolan with his band presenting Alchemy. The show started a few minutes before 23:00. Nolan's Musical consisted of two parts. Act I consists of a Prologue and eight scenes, Act II of six scenes. It all lasted about two hours. I have to admit that the author and the people who played it were incredible. We could see two 'teams'. One was responsible for music and the other one for acting. The result was sublime. It was like having both a live concert and a spectacle at once. In the leaflet we can read that the action is set in 19th century under Queen Victoria's rule. The Musical is full of adventures, it's a story about passion, betrayal and revenge. 

The only problem with this performance was... the time it started. It was really late and when they set off I was already there for five hours. I was simply exhausted and couldn't concentrate on what was going on. That's probably why I decided to leave the venue when the first Act was finished. 

Was it worth to travel all way from Łódź to Katowice? Well, it all depends on the point of view. For me, travelling here to see a single concert (one of those free) seemed completely pointless. Why? Ray Wilson's show was good, however it was more like Genesis Classic Quartet than 20th Anniversary Show. RPWL did an awesome job, but... for me it was a little bit too short. When I saw them in April 2012, they divided their concert into two parts. First was the Beyond Man And Time set, containing all songs from the album. The second one was The RPWL Live Experience set, kind of the best of with some of the most known songs. And it was great. I mean, for that concert you paid less and you got more. I am not going to discuss the Alchemy, since I am not into those kind of things and I don't feel good enough to evaluate the topic. Certainly as a big fan of Ray Wilson's and RPWL work I really enjoyed my stay in Katowice as a whole event, I mean Ray Wilson / RPWL / Alchemy it was really worth travelling. Obviously they all did the DVD here. This is also a good reason to see the show yourself. Just to have a souvenir, no doubt.

Going back to the topic of hotel Katowice. Having the opportunity to live in the same hotel as musicians from Ray's band and RPWL was a unique experience. Just imagine yourself sitting and drinking coffee and suddenly one of the member appears. This can really make you happy. At least when you are mental just as me. Obvioulsy I had the chance to get some of the cds signed. Now my World Through My Eyes and  Roses could lay on the shelf and make me proud of collecting all the autographs.

PS. If you'd like to read my older articles or see some photos have a look at the links below. Polish stuff is also included, since it contains lots of pictures. Apart from that you have English and German section with the texts I did for the Genesis Fanclub. They also contain some photos, but the number of them is limited.

my texts in Polish including lots of photos:
RPWL, 29.IV.2012 klub Progresja, Warszawa

Ray Wilson - Genesis vs Stiltskin Box
Ray Wilson & the Berlin Symphony Ensemble, 21.VIII.2010 Plac Teatralny, Drezno
Ray Wilson & Stiltskin, 18.X.2011 Hard Rock Cafe, Warszawa
Ray Wilson, 20.VI.2012 Myśliwiecka 3/5/7, Warszawa [15Springsteen]

my English texts:
Ray Wilson - Four Shows in Poland (2008-2010)
Ray Wilson Acoustic Trio, 17. 3.X.2010 Oskard, Konin
Ray Wilson & Stiltskin, 18.X.2011 Hard Rock Cafe, Warszawa
Ray Wilson, 20.VI.2012 Myśliwiecka 3/5/7, Warszawa [15Springsteen]

my German texts [actually translated from English to German by Martin Klinkhardt]:
Ray Wilson - Vier Shows in Polen (2008-2010)
Ray Wilson Acoustic Trio, 17. 3.X.2010 Oskard, Konin
Ray Wilson & Stiltskin, 18.X.2011 Hard Rock Cafe, Warszawa
Ray Wilson, 20.VI.2012 Myśliwiecka 3/5/7, Warszawa [15Springsteen]

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