Review: ‘The Musical Box’

The 1974 Genesis album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" has never received the attention of other great rock operas (like "Tommy," for instance), but for a legion of fans, it's not only great -- it's the best album ever made. It was also the album that led to Genesis's last real tour, before Peter Gabriel left the band and self-destruction began. So, for Canadian Genesis cover band the Musical Box, which made its Los Angeles debut with this show, the 30th anniversary of the tour was a time to celebrate -- and re-create, with meticulous detail, every aspect of Genesis's 1974 tour.

The 1974 Genesis album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” has never received the attention of other great rock operas (like “Tommy,” for instance), but for a legion of fans, it’s not only great — it’s the best album ever made. It was also the album that led to Genesis’s last real tour, before Peter Gabriel left the band and self-destruction began. So, for Canadian Genesis cover band the Musical Box, which made its Los Angeles debut with this show, the 30th anniversary of the tour was a time to celebrate — and re-create, with meticulous detail, every aspect of Genesis’s 1974 tour.

Watching them perform was like stepping into a time warp. The band not only has the blessing of the original members of Genesis, but their stage props, slides, costumes and roadies (at least as consultants).

Drummer Phil Collins writes in the program’s book, “They have uncannily captured US BACK THEN” (his caps), and — though, like most of the members of the audience, this reviewer never saw the original show — it’s hard to not believe him.

The Musical Box not only nails all of the record’s shockingly complex, magnificent sweeps, sounds and fills, but watching it provides the uncomfortable feeling that the band members have lived in the shoes of their heroes for so long, they actually believe they are now Genesis.

They as good as are. One graying fan remarked at the bar that when he closed his eyes, it was like listening to the record at home — but better. When singer Denis Gagne emerged from an onstage womb as the bubbly, disgusting character Slipper Man, the packed crowd rushed the front of the stage.

And when the band finished playing “Lamb,” it’s a story of Rael the Graffiti artist still as convoluted as ever, the crowd cheered for an encore. The Musical Box did two — the song that gave them its name, and the intense, dramatic “Watcher of the Skies.”

For the latter, Gagne donned a cape and mask, walking the line between surrealist and scaremonger. It was no surprise, as members of the audience high-fived, that it seemed uncannily like the way Gabriel performed — 30 years ago.

The Musical Box

Henry Fonda Music Box Theater; 1,250 Capacity; $35

Production

Presented by Goldenvoice.

Cast

Band: Denis Gagne, Francois Gagnon, Eric Savard, Sebastien Lemothe, Martin Levac. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2004.
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