The Musical Box is to Genesis cover bands what Civil War reenactors are to kids playing with toy soldiers. The band is so much like the real thing that it’s easy to forget you’re watching both a dramatic and musical performance. The members of The Musical Box inhabit the characters they portray in the way a method actor might. From the clothes to the voices to the gestures to the playing of their instruments, you’d swear you were watching Genesis.
On Thursday at The Egg in Albany, the band played the set list that Genesis used during its 1976 tour in support of “A Trick Of The Tail.” This was the first album of the post-Peter Gabriel band, and the first tour in which Phil Collins had to serve as the front man.
For those of us who weren’t old enough to see Genesis during this period, The Musical Box is truly the next best thing to having been there. The set was powerful and well played, even with a few wrong notes here and there – something that isn’t common at their shows. (One member of the audience speculated afterward that the band was thrown off by having to reposition their gear after the opening act, Fear of Flying, finished…something he said the band doesn’t usually do.)
One of the most impressive things about The Musical Box’s approach to recreating the tour is that they use the original slides and films from 1976, projected onto three large screens at the rear of the stage. The visuals were surprisingly effective, given their simplicity. The “Lamb Casserole” medley (also known as “Lamb Stew” — three songs from “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”) featured period photos of Manhattan, where “The Lamb” is set, and surreal video footage of costumed people crawling across a carpet during – wait for it – “Carpet Crawlers.” The opening photo of the medley was a gorgeous black-and-white panoramic shot of the 1970s skyline. Also impressive were the mountain photos superimposed with wolves used during “White Mountain,” and the film of Phil Collins as a bank robber (with “Phil Collins” of The Musical Box dressed in the same clothing) during “Robbery, Assault And Battery.”
The on-stage antics were preserved intact, too, including Collins’ signature tambourine routine during “I Know What I Like” and his faux-ballet dancing throughout the set.
The band also uses period gear, including the legendary Taurus bass pedal. No amount of digital wizardry could have replaced the sound of a Taurus bass pedal threatening the architectural integrity of The Egg as the band hit the climactic final section of “Supper’s Ready.” (Hearing that 20-plus-minute epic live was, for me at least, a religious experience.)
In the end, though, the effects and dancing and between-song jokes wouldn’t have cut it if the music hadn’t been so strong. From the majestic piano and keyboard sections of “Firth of Fifth” to the gorgeous and disturbing ballad “Entangled,” The Musical Box showcased all the songwriting skill and instrumental prowess that made Genesis a top recording and touring act for so many years.
Review by Jason Crane of The Jazz Session
Greg Haymes: The Musical Box threw a kink in the whole tribute-band thing with their “A Trick of the Tail,” however, as the Montreal-based band utilized two musicians to play the role of Phil Collins. Denis Gagnon took on the role of vocalist Phil, while Marc Laflamme played drummer Phil. Both were dressed identically, and the switch-overs were seamless. Most fans in the audience didn’t even realize the double-play. But by not revealing the switcheroo to the crowd at the end of the concert, The Musical Box only seemed to emphasize the “trick” of “A Trick of the Tail.”
Read Greg Haymes’ review in The Times Union.
Keyboards: David Myers as Tony Banks
Drums: Greg Bendian as Bill Bruford
Guitar: Francois Gagnon as Steve Hackett
Bass: Sebastian Lamothe as Michael Rutherford
Vocals: Denis Gagnon as Phil Collins
Drums: Marc Laflamme as Phil Collins
THE MUSICAL BOX SET LIST
Dance on a Volcano
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Fly on a Windshield
The Cinema Show
Robbery, Assault and Battery
Firth of Fifth
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
It/Watcher of the Skies
FEAR OF FLYING SET LIST
Beside the Ocean