Live (Volunteer / Mankato)

It’s been said before that The Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth manages to get some rather big bands into the schedule for a pleasingly intimate gig. With Gene headlining the bill, this was either one of these occasions, or another indication of how undervalued this band is.

First support act, Volunteer, were remarkably similar to Gene, or so the audience believed before they got the real thing. They offered the same style, but didn’t have the same quality in the songs.

With a strong start, their set took a downward spiral for a while before picking things up again for the second half. This was well presented music, but it failed to connect with the crowd.

Mankato, a very confident solo acoustic pop act, appeared after a substantial wait and managed to get an instant reaction from the crowd.

Despite being all alone on stage, Darren Berry was in control with a relaxed style and an infectious laugh. The music was emotional and there was nothing wrong with any of the tracks, although it’s hard to create a live solo setlist that provides a wide range of tunes.

After another lengthy gap, presumably due to the change over (i.e. the removal of one acoustic guitar), Gene’s set started. After a somewhat pretentious backing track intro, the band set to work on material from their six albums.

With the most notable tracks coming from Revelations, Drawn to the Deep End, and (of course) Olympian, Gene whipped the crowd up into a moving mass of head flinging, lyric shouting groupies.

A definite high was reached half way through the set with ‘As Good as it Gets’ and it never came down until the second encore had finished.

Far from being a washed-up Britpop band, Gene are playing 10 year old songs that sound more current now than they did in 1995. A great testament to the music was the crowd; singing along to every song and cheering as each one was introduced. A few fans even managed to leave the venue asking why they didn’t play their own personal favourite!

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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