"First Night Revelations On St Catherine Street" - The Musical Box's first "Lamb..." show at the Spectrum Montreal, Wednesday 11 October, 2000. Review by Alan Hewitt.

OK folks, two things to remember here: first of all I didn't particularly like "The Lamb..." and have gone on public record as saying so. Secondly; I hope that you all caught the change in tense in the above statement? I arrived eventually in sunny Montreal after a hellish trip from rain soaked Liverpool on Tuesday night; extremely tired but also extremely excited at the prospect of seeing these shows and doing some serious catching up with old friends whom I knew would be attending them too. My hosts for this occasion were "Uncle" Francois Patry and "Aunt" Brigitte Boulais and, as usual they made yours truly feel like part of the family.

A few hours of much needed sleep and the following day dawned fine and clear - a good omen! After helping Francois with a few bits and pieces of pre-gig business, it was time to meet some of the "Usual Suspects" at the Spectrum. First to show up were Veronique Pelletier and Tom Oastler. We ambled downtown in search of a suitable hostelry for lunch and after a few samples of the local beverages we were soon chatting about our favourite subject - Genesis! Arriving back at the venue we were joined by other members of our travelling troupe - David Hussey, Mansoor Khaleeluddin and Raymond Chenier. Managing to get into the venue early, I was greeted by more familiar faces - Serge Morrissette and Jack Beermann whose excitement at the prospect of seeing "The Lamb..." was almost tangible! Other familiar faces soon appeared including the "Blackadder Twins" Alain Granger and Philippe Perreault with whom I was soon engaged in suitable Blackadder banter to the amusement of the people around us.

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Ensuring that seats for our merry band would be front and centre - where else? I waited for the doors to open and for the rest of our group to join me for this extravaganza. The opening act Jean Philippe entertained us with his own unique blend of acoustic guitar work and passionate lyrics and his applause at the end of his half hour set was as warm as it was well deserved. The expectation of the almost capacity crowd for this opening show was unbelievable. Of course, all the usual questions were asked; would the slides work? Would the band be able to pull off this complex piece musically? Well, soon we would find out...

The lights dimmed, and Denis Gagne, leather clad as our hero Rael, narrated his story before keyboard player Eric Savard's intro heralded the arrival of "The Lamb..." in Montreal accompanied by the images of the Manhattan skyline in perfect synchronisation with the music - an amazing start! Watching Denis takes us through the extended fantasy world of Rael was a revelation (pardon the pun!). The show progressed through the magic of Rael's underground adventures visiting the "Fly On A Windshield" and "Broadway Melody of 1974" before arriving at the next milestone: "In The Cage". What can I say about this? Always a live favourite through all its incarnations, to see it as it was originally intended was stunning, with the extra dimension of the visuals enhancing the story greatly.

Visually, the show helped to make sense of many of those more "obscure" moments especially on tracks such as "The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging", "Hairless Heart" and "The Chamber Of 32 Doors" all of which flowed seamlessly into the story. By the time we had reached the organised chaos of "The Waiting Room" any doubts about this album as a fully fledged masterpiece had been blown away and special praise here to the musicians: Christian Herberts' guitar playing was tasteful and tight as always and Guillaume Courteau's drumming was as fluid as Mr Collins' himself. As for Sebastien Lamothe's bass playing, well it all brought shivers to my spine!

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The Musical Box performing "The Lamb..."
picture courtesy of The Genesis Museum

The show seemed to be going past us at an alarming rate and soon it was the moment which I had really been waiting for all night; with the arrival on stage of two roadies to erect the "Tourbillion" which would convert Denis into the hideous "Slipperman". Denis' emergence through the inflated penis as some sort of demon sperm cell has to be seen to be believed! It drew gasps from the crowd and I am sure that even the band themselves were surprised.

Racing on we found ourselves chasing the "Raven" through the "Ravine" and were soon watching the "Light Die Down On Broadway" before being plunged with Denis into "The Rapids" emerging to the strains of "it" as Denis' alter-ego emerged before the pyrotechnic display which brought this stunning show to a suitably dramatic climax.

Then it was all over. Or was it? Well... not quite - the band took their well deserved bows but didn't leave the stage and soon the familiar story of "La petite Cynthia et Le petit Henry" heralded the opening of "The Musical Box" and the crowd went nuts. A short break before our alien visitor of previous shows returned as "Watcher Of The Skies" complete with glowing eyes and visual backdrops, brought the show to its ultimate climax, leaving everyone drained both physically and emotionally.

There you have it. The cynics and the doubters who have knocked the band over the last few months should by now be eating their slices of humble pie and yes; so am I because I am now finally a dedicated "Lamb..." fan! Everything about this show was exceptional and the few technical problems which did occur only added to the show rather than detracting from it. OK, yes, the band used modern technology to present the show, and so in the strictest sense of the word this was not a historical recreation. Then again, given the fact that even by the band's own admission their shows in 1974/75 were a technical nightmare, I personally thank God that technology has finally caught up and allowed The Musical Box to present this show as it should have been seen all those years ago! Bravo mes amis!

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