My music taste has been heavily influenced over the years by family members. Grandma and Grandad King are responsible for my Elvis Presley fascination and Nana and Grandad Bell are behind my love of country music. But a lot of my music choices have been taken from my Dad. I have vivid memories of being sat in the car in the passenger seat with my fake toy steering wheel listening to the likes of Madness, the Beautiful South and Genesis. I fell in love with all of these bands but there was something about Genesis that really appealed to me. I became a true fan when I watched the DVD of the live tour 'We Can't Dance'. I watched that concert over and over again. I adored the music and I adored the interaction between the band and the audience members. Particular highlights from that DVD were the intro to 'Domino' and the silly walk in 'We Can't Dance'.
In 2014 I started the Creativity Talks podcast. I interviewed my friend and performer Jack Lane in episodes one and two. I asked if he knew of anyone good to interview for a future episode and he suggested sound engineer Dan Barnes. In episode seven when chatting to Dan Barnes, he brought up a Phil Collins tribute band he was working for called 'No Jacket Required'. I was intrigued instantly and I contacted the bands frontman Dave Whitehouse. Luckily for me he was happy to talk. Episode nine was with Dave and it was a fun interview, I asked him questions about his background, his love of Phil Collins and the band. At the end of the episode we talked about me attending an gig. Unfortunately at the time I was based in Newcastle upon Tyne and 'No Jacket Required' only performed in the South. Following the interview I made sure that I kept in touch with Dave, firing off a tweet or a Facebook message every now and then. He contacted me at the end of 2016 knowing I was now living in London, to ask me if I wanted to go to a performance on February 4th 2017. I jumped at the chance.
The gig was at The Hawth in Crawley, a beautiful 855 seat theatre that I didn't even know existed. I had talked at length about the band with Dave on the podcast but I wasn't prepared for the show they delivered. It was outstanding, they surpassed all of my expectations. I was happy to see that the venue was only a couple of seats away from being a complete sell out. I learned later that it was the largest audience in that venue for the band. I did wonder whether the recent publicity surrounding Collins and the upcoming tour had help generate a few new audience members.
The show was filled with hits. It really reminded me of how much of an impact Collins has had on the music industry. Dave as the frontman doesn't pretend to be Collins, instead he captures the essence of his idol and acts as the guide through his career. The humour I talked about seeing on the 'We Can't Dance' tour was not lost on this band. You could see the twelve piece band loving every moment on stage. It was a joy to see them interact with each other and not taking themselves too seriously. It was like watching a family. It's obvious that they know each other inside and out. They each have their place in the band, they are like a well oiled machine and I wouldn't want to see this machine lose any part. One of the funnest moments for me was when they performed 'You Can Wear My Hat'. I was smiling from ear to ear.
As well as songs from the solo career of Collins they also threw in a few Genesis songs. I couldn't believe it! The silly walk! Yes, 'I Can't Dance' was on the set list. Other Genesis classics were 'Land of Confusion', 'That's All', 'Invisible Touch' and 'Mama'. In terms of the Phil Collins hits, they played 'In The Air Tonight', 'Against All Odds', 'A Groovy Kind of Love', 'One More Night', 'You'll Be In My Heart', 'Easy Lover', 'Two Hearts', 'Another Day In Paradise', 'You Can't Hurry Love', 'Take Me Home', 'Sussudio', 'Don't Lose My Number' & many more.
By the end of the evening the audience were up on their feet and dancing in the aisles. It was a fabulous night and I would not hesitate in going to see them again. Following the show I waited to speak to Dave. The whole band were out in the foyer of the theatre chatting to the members of the public. Just another reason I admire them all. As I stood waiting to chat to Dave, I began to panic. Realising he'd never met me in person and this could be slightly awkward if I have to say 'Hello, I'm Martyn'. Luckily he did know me and he also remembered questions and answers from our interview. I congratulated him and the band for an amazing show, grabbed a quick photo and left him to cool down or rather pack down.
Before ending the blog, I wanted to mention that during the show, before the performance of 'Another Day in Paradise' Dave mentioned that they were collecting money for The Bridge Trust. A charity that supports the homeless in West Kent. All of the merchandise money from the show was going to the charity and there were yellow buckets dotted around the theatre for any donations. I was thrilled to hear following the gig that they raised £746. But what is even more impressive is since they started this link with The Bridge Trust. No Jacket Required have raised over £25,000. I take my hat off to the band and to everyone who has donated over the years. Well, I would take my hat off to you if I knew where it was, you see....
She came looking for me with her arms open wide,
Like some long lost friend of mine.
She said 'Excuse me, but do you remember me ?'
I said 'No, I don't believe I do'
So she looked me up and down
And undressed me with her eyes,
Then she said 'You've got everything I need, you've got everything I want'
So I said 'OK,
You can wear my hat,
You can have my coat,
You can take my shirt
Cause I don't need it.
You can wear my shoes,
You can take my socks,
Come on take my bag it's yours
Website - http://www.nojacketrequired.co.uk
Twitter - @PCTribute
Facebook - No Jacket Required