Gene - Manchester Academy 2 - 14.12.04
It's perhaps fitting and in character that Gene choose to bow out in the musical climate that could have embraced them (and therefore made them part of the zeitgeist) had it not been for the stigma attached to them by certain elements of the music press. When Gene arrived in the neanderthal days of Britpop it was only Echobelly and themselves that provided a counter balance to the patronizing dumming down of their contemporaries at the time. Now with bands like Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and The Ordinary Boys taking their direction from the likes of the Smiths, in the words of Morrissey if they'd been "reissued and repackaged" we could have seen an Embrace style comeback from Martin Rossiter and his cohorts.
With a setlist selected by fans it's an emotional and exhilarating trip down memory lane through the bands greatest moments. "Fighting Fit" with it's insistent driving Motown beat, "Where Are You Now?" with it's Johnny Marr-esque guitar picks and "Sleep Well Tonight" with it's tale of small town violence. "Haunted By You" and "Be My Light, Be My Guide" see a crowd singing along to every word, but it's "Olmpians" where things really reach a crescendo. With the set closer "For The Dead" it's an emotional moment for the devoted fans who have followed the band through a series of elongated breaks over recent years and a glance around the crowd during these final few moments show an audience dumbstruck and in tears saying farewell to a band who have become kith and kin to these lonely souls.
In time history will look kindly on Gene and see them as triumphant victors who stuck to their own path throughout their career, never pandering to the critics or the latest musical climate. Hopefully whatever projects the individual members pursue will generate renewed interest in the band and let the music live on in the bedrooms of a new generation. It's inevitable that one day Martin Rossiter, Steve Mason, Kevin Miles and Matt James will play together again, but deep down you know it will be on their own terms and not on some tragic Here & Now Britpop Revival Tour.
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
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