London Kentish Town Forum
[B]Mathew Priest[/B], the drummer from [a]Dodgy[/a], has just joined [B]Gene[/B] onstage. [B]Martin Rossiter[/B] proceeds to dedicate their next song, [B]'Little Child'[/B], to him on the grounds that
"Why's he still so fucking fat, then?" screams a wag from the rear stalls.
That's the most entertaining thing that happens all night.
While the sell-out signs on the door are a firm statement of a Gene everlasting, the big question of the evening is not so much whether Gene can survive in their current state no record label, no immediate prospect of one but why they would even want to?
Because now, more than at any other time in their career, they are stuck with being Gene. Boring old, under-ambitious, Happy-Shopper-Morrissey Gene. Lacking the sort of record company support you need to make any kind of change of musical direction, Gene have now got to be more Gene than ever to keep the faithful interested.
It's hardly a surprise then that this spuriously triumphant return to the public arena sees them enthusiastically dusting off the hits ('For The Dead', 'Fighting Fit', 'As Good As It Gets') and unveiling a sequence of new songs ('You', 'Love Won't Work', 'Let Me Move On' and 'Who Said This Was The End?') which are pleasant enough but indistinguishable from anything else they've ever done.
For Martin Rossiter, an unimpeachably lovely fellow and surprisingly no mean footballer as well, this is clearly a moment of vindication. The triumphant fist-waving that punctuates his delivery speaks of a renewed belief in the power of rock'n'roll. His weedy vocal pitching, however, speaks of a man struggling hopelessly against the limits of his capabilities. Naming one of their singles 'As Good As It Gets' rarely seemed as titanically ironic a decision.
They plough on. They even end their main set on a high with 'You'll Never Walk Again', the understated epic which marked the end of their ill-fated 'Revelations' album, but once more it's a title that has already come back to haunt them. Gene will never stride more confidently as they have tonight; from here on in, it's surely only a laborious hobble to an ignominious end.
Lively, loveable. Doomed.
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