Gene – live at Newcastle Riverside – October 28, 1998 – Band Soundboard –
Taking a one night break from Festivals tonight to head back to 1998 for a set by Gene, recorded at the Newcast Riverside on October 28, 1998.
Gene rose to prominence in the mid-1990s. Formed in 1993, they were categorized by the UK music press as a Britpop band and often drew comparisons to the Smiths because of similarities to Morrissey in the demeanour and lyrical style of lead singer Martin Rossiter. Gene’s music was influenced by the Jam, the Smiths, the Style Council and the Clash.
After achieving the top spot in the UK indie chart and number 54 in the UK Singles Chart, the band played their first UK headlining tour, that included a show at London’s Paradise Club which sold out immediately, with 800 people in the venue. The plaudits had not gone unnoticed by the big record companies and Gene eventually signed a deal with Polydor Records. For many observers, this was to prove a turning point for the band. After a successful appearance at the Reading Festival, the band released their third single “Sleep Well Tonight”, just prior to embarking on a large national tour, preceded by several sold-out French dates.
Featuring strongly in both critics and readers end of year polls, Gene were the recipients of the inaugural NME Brat Award for ‘Best New Act’, and as such played at the sold out Brat Award ceremony at the London Astoria. They adorned the covers of both the NME and Melody Maker, who voted them their ‘Brightest Hope’ for 1995. Their fourth single, “Haunted By You”, became the band’s second Top 40 hit (reaching number 32), whilst their debut LP Olympian reached number 8 in the UK Albums Chart following a plethora of excellent reviews. The album also gained Gene their first silver disc, recording sales of over 70,000 in the UK alone, and when the final single from the album was released (“Olympian”), it went into the Top 20 of the UK Singles Chart.
The summer and autumn of 1995 were spent touring the world, including a well-received performance at Glastonbury Festival, headlining Reading Festival, a tour of Japan and Europe and then a foray into the US. With Christmas looming, the band entered the studio again for pre-production on their new album, scheduled for release the following year. 1996 began with a remixed “For the Dead” which subsequently became Gene’s biggest hit (peaking at number 14 in the Top 40), leading to their debut appearance on Top of the Pops. To See The Lights, an LP of rarities, live tracks, radio sessions and acoustic versions of singles, was released in January and reached the number 11 spot in the album chart. A national tour was undertaken during most of the same month, culminating in two sell-out London shows at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and the Astoria.
Despite further successful live shows in subsequent years including a set at the Morrissey-curated Royal Festival Hall Meltdown Festival in June 2004, Gene opted for an amicable split later that year. Gene’s last live performance was on 16 December 2004 at the London Astoria.
The band members have all continued to work in music. Roy Wilkinson went on to manage the band British Sea Power, while Snake Newton went on to mix an assortment of acts including Duran Duran, Sugababes, Pet Shop Boys and Snow Patrol.
In the third week of January 2008, all four members of Gene briefly took to the stage again for their ex-manager Jerry Smith’s 50th birthday party. They performed five songs at the 100 Club in London: “Be My Light, Be My Guide”, “For The Dead”, “Where Are They Now?”, “London, Can You Wait?” and “Olympian”.
For a reminder of 1998, here they are at Newcastle Riverside on October 28, 1998 – Play Loud and enjoy Loud.