Friday, March 12, 2010

Martin Levac and his eight-piece band were in the Liederhalle's Hegelsaal here in Stuttgart on Sunday evening for The Ultimate Phil Collins Show. You might think that Phil's stage presence and magic ability to interact with the audience - not to mention his musicianship - are impossible to imitate. You'd be wrong.
Several years ago I first noticed Martin Levac as he put on a white jacket over the white overalls he was wearing behind the drum kit, on which he was supporting the Canadian band, The Musical Box. He walked up to the microphone and sang "More Fool Me", the first song Phil Collins sang for Genesis (back in 1973). Martin had perfected all the mannerisms, the accent, the voice and the charm of his idol.
Now he is on tour with his own ensemble, after having played the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis music longer than Phil did (including 153 performances of the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway!).

During the show in Stuttgart he introduced three members of his band as having been born here, the guitarist, the saxophonist and the trumpeter. A couple of their mothers were even in the audience, so "Phil" said a special hello to them.
This reminded me of the first time I saw Phil live with his own music. It was in the Phillipshalle in Düsseldorf on Thanksgiving Day, November 1982. I was there with Waldemar and Nancy. Half of the hall was curtained off because he hadn't sold more than about a thousand tickets. I believe he played everything he had ever recorded, introducing the various songs in his humorous way. Between songs he said, "Today is Thanksgiving Day in America. Are there any Americans in the audience?" Nancy and I yelled from our seats in the 15th row, "YEAH!" Then he - personally - wished us Happy Thanksgiving. We really felt special!
We had spent a lot of money on the tickets and train fare, so we couldn't really afford to take the train home. After the concert we went out into the parking lot and looked for a license plate with MS on it that might be heading our way. The closest we got was a car headed to Dortmund. We knocked on the window and a young couple grudgingly took us with them, dropping us three foreign midnight hitchhikers at the DO train station. From there we pooled all our coins together and bought tickets for the rest of the way home. Feeling high from the concert and quite certain that a conductor would not come by at 1 a.m., we sat ourselves quite comfortably in the first-class section.
Five minutes later, there he was, the conductor asking for our first-class tickets. Nancy and I did our best dumb American act when we realized he wanted to charge us for a first-class ride all the way from Düsseldorf! "Aberrrr wirrr zint errrrst in Dorrrtmoond zugestogen!" He looked a bit confused, told us to go back to the second-class section and went on his way.
When we got to Münster, Nancy was riding home on the back of Waldemar's bike (which was/is illegal, especially, I guess, at 2 a.m.) when a police car started chasing us. We took a short-cut between some buildings on the university campus and shook them off our trail! Quite an experience for one night!

Luckily, the light show at Martin's concert was interesting enough to provide some good shots, no matter where I was standing. I ran all over the balcony and around the lower level, and even ended up in the front row for a couple of songs. The management was very gracious not only in allowing me to take pictures, but they even gave me a free ticket. Of course, they'll be getting these pictures as soon as they are all developed.

Martin is a charming man. He talked to his fans after the show, signed autographs, sold CDs of his own music, and even had his picture taken with a couple who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary that evening. Both were wearing Genesis T-shirts.

This was the set-list for the Stuttgart show:
Hang In Long Enough
I Missed Again
Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)
Can't Stop Loving You
Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
One More Night
Saturday Night And Sunday Morning
Don't Lose My Number
Wear My Hat
Drum Duet
Another Day in Paradise
In the Air Tonight
You Can't Hurry Love/Two Hearts
Dance Into the Light
Easy Lover
And the encores:
A Groovy Kind of Love
You'll Be In My Heart
Take Me Home

Saturday he and his band are playing in Mannheim, which is only about an hour from Stuttgart. I think I'll be going again (with my cameras!).

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