Carpet Crawlers

Venue : The House Of Progression at The Peel, Kingston-upon-Thames
Date : Friday 15 January 2010
Date of writing this review : 18 January 2010
I seldom go along to see tribute acts, with their being so many original bands I still want to see, but I had always been impressed with Brian Cummins’ performance within the Script For A Jester’s Tour shows, and was intrigued to see how he performed with Carpet Crawlers, a Genesis tribute band.  I also wanted to see how they would fit their light show and two drum kits on the stage at The Peel.  I was not alone in wanting to see this, and some legends of prog were also in attendance – Mike Varty from Credo, Ian Salmon from Arena (both of whom are also a part of Script For A Jester’s Tour with Brian), and Robert Ramsay from Tinyfish (who are playing with Jump at The Peel on 24 April).  I had a good chat with Rob about many and varied items, including Hudson Hawk, the fact that, of course, the 5th one is the best of the six Star Wars movies, and the possibility of hobbits and dragons within future Tinyfish songs.  I suspect Simon Godfrey will be thankful the band came on so i could not plant any more bad ideas in Rob’s head.
Brian comes on in full costume – white face, green around the eyes, white gloves, black catsuit, a multi-coloured sequin cape, bat wings on his head, “it’s all in aid of Genesis”.  Andy Keegan’s keyborads come in big, accompanied by a load of dry ice, as they blast into Watcher Of The Skies, the hit hat tapping from Neil Carter as the track bounces off upbeat.  And they have fitted two drum kits on the stage.  And rows of guitars.  And the keyboards set up.  And left some space for Brian.  It does mean that bassist Chris Watt and their new guitarist, Justin, are almost pushed off to the far edge of the stage, but they do not seem unduly bothered by that – probably as well to keep out of Brian’s dramatic way !  His vocals are excellent, the musicianship throughout is of the highest order, and the way they play the tracks is a faithful re-creation remaining true to the tracks themselves, while injecting them with life and not allowing them to become leaden in any way.  Here the drums are driving us along, the bass is thumping, the guitar cuts through sharply, screeching with lively flourishes, scratching up and down the strings with his plectrum, the keyboards running under it all, and Brian has his back to the audience as he spreads his cape.  He removes the cape and hides his face with a tambourine, keeping it dramatic, and finally allowing it to lower as the guitar echoes through.  Chris is using a double neck guitar for Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, one neck a bass and the other a guitar.  Brian asks Andy, “how’s me hair ?”, and “it’s worth it”, is a response from the crowd.  It turns out this is Justin’s first show (and he truly puts in a storming performance) – “it’s my first show in this catsuit”, says Brian.  Both Chris and Justin strum in on guitar to open it, but I suspect that anyone reading this blog will know the songs themselves, so I am not going to go into the usual detail of my reviews – I will pick out specific points only.  It is well worth pointing out that so soon into his first set with the band Justin is clearly having a lot of fun, playing around on the guitar neck, giving it all a light feel as Brian adds in some tambourine percussion.  They continue with Cinema Show, with Chris on a 12-string acoustic opening the track.  Andy is also on a 12-string acoustic, and together they produce a big, rounded, melodic sound under Brian’s vocals.  The sound is enhanced with the use of bass pedals by Chris and Neil kicks us into some wonderful flourishes from Justin.  Brian comes in on flute, and Chris and Andy add backing vocals – they really are a multi-talented bunch !  Chris switches to his double neck guitar while providing some more bass pedals, as it hits into a stacatto part and the keyboards pierce through, and then Chris riffs along on guitar – not realy appreciating the blast of dry ice he now gets for his troubles.
Andy has to go and retrieve his 12-string acoustic for The Musical Box, while Chris is on an electric 12-string, and they strum in together with some excellent vocals from Brian, while Justin is using a slide on his guitar.  Brian adds in some flute and Neil joins on backing vocals.  Chris continues to strum along as the keyboards come in, and Brian adds in some tambourine, the drums rolling and kicking away with Justin screeching out a part before playing on the guitar neck, and the drums are excellent as the track moves through its phases.  Brian comes back on wearing a face mask of an old man, bald with grey whisps of hair round the sides – something of a gruesome look to it, and that impression is certainly enhanced as Brian begins to ‘adjust’ himself, and opens the top half of his catsuit.  The stage is bathed in yellow light as they hit into a hard ending musically, and a dramatic ending from Brian.  He takes off the mask and zips himself up, ready to continue with the next track.  Justin is sitting on a stool with his 12-string acoustic, Chris is ready with his 12-string acoustic, and Andy has a 12-string acoustic…”To us it meant that Supper is Grendel.  Oh, I’ve forgotten something – turn round to not spoil the surprise !”, and Brian goes off to bring on some headwear, with the crowd shouting out “a flower !”.  Anyway, Supper’s Ready “with three 12-strings” – sumptuous !  Plus bass pedals, and Brian moving between tambourine and flute, before it scales down to two 12-strings, with the keyboards rolling through.  Brian puts on a crown of thorns as Justin switches to electric guitar, and there is another flute part.  The track rattles away and Brian takes off the crown of thorns, adds in some tambourine, and the keyboards surge through as Chris switches from his 12-string to his double neck.  Some lovely lighting effects as the stage is bathed in green and Brian’s face is lit by a red lamp shining upwards.  And then, “I canna get it on” as he struggles with the headwear, before the crowd join in with “a flower”, and dramatic vocals with Chris also joining in at times, with the crowd again coming in with “all change”.  Brian takes off the flower headwear as the guitar cuts through with a wailing sound, and Brian adds in some flute as the track taps along.  Brian goes off stage for a costume change, but leaves his gloves behind, so they have to be retrieved by Graham, one of their crew.  He comes back on in the outfit shown on the front of Genesis Live – the geometric headwear and a black cloak, which he subsequently discards to reveal a white catsuit with glass-beaded tassles down the front, and he holds an ultra-violet neon staff to attention as the track comes to a close.  “I have to go and do another costume change, so I will leave you with Andy to provide a musical interlude from Foxtrot”, and Andy takes up his acoustic guitar and keeps us well entertained with a wonderful version of Horizons, while those of us to the far left of the stage can witness Brian prancing around in his pants.  “This has got to be the most unconvincing Rael ever – give me the leather jacket at least”, and they are ready for what they call The Lamb Stew, their collection of tracks from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – the title track, Fly On The Windshield, Broadway Melody Of 1974 and The Chamber Of 32 Doors.  Chris is using his double neck guitar and also provides some backing vocals, while Brian as Rael adds some tambourine, and at the end of the title track Andy and Neil also provide backing vocals.  Chris strums in on the guitar part of his double neck to open Fly On A Windshield, with Justin using a slide on his guitar, and as it moves on into Broadway Melody Of 1974 the vocals become spoken and very dramatic against a pulsing bass, and they then try to flow seamlessly on into The Chamber Of 32 Doors but there is something wrong with the keyboards – they handle it brilliantly, Justin strumming to hold it as Andy tries to rectify the problem, and Brian looks out into the crowd and asks, “a flower ?”, before it finally pushes on with a massive sound, excellent drumming from Neil pushing it through the phases until it fades to a close.  And they take a 10 minute break before the “Phil Collins part”.Brian comes back wearing an open yellow-based Hawaiian shirt, white trousers, white vest, red braces and white plimpsoles, and takes his place behind the second drum kit.  They blast straight in to Behind The Lines (as featured both on Duke and on the first Phil Collins’ solo album, Face Value.  It is great to hear the two drum kits playing together, though towards the end of the track Brian does come out from behind the kit to continue with the vocal part and add some tambourine.  “Welcome to the Phil part of the show – you’re getting three bands in on go here.  Think of it as a buffet, and when we do Illegal Alien that’s the vol-au-vent no-one wants.”  They continue with One For The Vine, with Brian slapping himself around the face at times, another small technical hitch with the keyboards before the full sound flows through, some great sounds from the bass pedals, Brian back behind his kit and Neil blowing on his whistle, and a double drum attack as the guitar cuts open, and Brian sings while sitting at his kit, comes out front to continue, and then back behind it again to finish off.  The next song is “just to show off the talents of our fantastic lighting engineer, Alec Morris”.  Brian takes off the Hawaiian shirt and there are all sorts of coloured lights shining out all over the stage as they go into Home By The Sea.  Brian goes behind his kit as the opening fades and then it picks up again with the double drum beat, the keyboards flowing through sharply and the lights are truly stunning – it is amazing just what you can do even on a stage the size of The Peel’s, and just how effective the light show can be.Chris is back on his double neck guitar.  “Course we’re going to do bloody In The Cage !”, says Brian, “so this is our version of the In The Cage medley” – and according to the setlist it is the 1980 version.  “Let’s get a bit of a clap going”, and the crowd clap along.  “Los Angeles, can you feel it ?” and it really is a wonderful performance they produce, including some more stunning stage lights, white and flooding down across the front of the stage to produce the bars to the cage, brilliant guitar work, a drum duet perfectly in time, producing wonderful rhythms, a sharp sound with bass pedals flowing under it, and it flows on into Afterglow, and Brian comes out from behind his kit to sing and looks exhausted.  Graham is manually working the dry ice machine now, flooding the stage, producing a fog before Brian goes back behind his kit and the stage is bathed in a violet light as they bring it to a close.  Time has been against them tonight and all too soon we reach the final track, fittingly Los Endos.  The drums crash in together, the stage is flooded with more dry ice, Chris is on his double neck guitar, and the cage lights are down the front of the stage again as Chris picks out the guitar hook for the drums to crash through.  The lights are absolutely brilliant as the track continues to build, and the track itself is a fitting close to what has been a wonderful performance, pushing itself into a massive, crashing end.  This has been a true aural and visual treat, and thankfully Brian just manages to avoid impaling himself on the microphone stand as he takes a bow with the rest of the band to huge applause from the well entertained crowd.

They headed off to Deboerderij in Zoetermeer, Holland for another gig on the 16 January, so hopefully this will be the start of more touring from them this year, because I would thoroughly recommend you get along to see them for a great night out.

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