"More Lambing Around" - The Musical Box live at Gatineau, November 3, 2000. Review by Raymond Chénier.
Hellay, hellay. My dear friend Alan Hewitt asked me for a review of the Gatineau shows. In a nutshell, they were the same as the Montréal shows. And that is great!
Let me start these rambling impressions of The Musical Box's interpretation of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" with a bit of personal perspective. Firstly, as someone that enjoys Genesis interpretations with "fidelity," I am rather spoiled in terms of geographical proximity to TMB's first legs of this show. I have been a fan of Genesis music since 1972 (ripe old age of 13), and this rubbed off on my younger brother. My brother and I have attended many of TMB's performances together during the last two months. I have been to seven (four in Montreal and three in Gatineau), and plan on seeing many, many more. At my sixth performance of "The Lamb", I thought as the show was about to start: "this is a little much, isn't it? Come on now, seven shows in three weeks ." Then as Éric Savard started the famous keyboard intro, that question answered itself soundly: "See as many as you can, this won't last forever." The approximately two and a half hours between that keyboard intro and the haunting phosphorescent bat eyes are but a blur of auditory and visual pleasure that can recapture a lifetime of memories and pleasure! A look around the room shows pleasure - deep and rael!
Secondly, I capped off my great opening run with my wife and two youngest children (thirteen and eleven) at Gatineau's November 3 performance. I have developed this pleasure out of seeing other people's reactions to this show, and this night was a treat. As much I enjoyed seeing Véronique à la fraise in a trance and Alan screaming like a teen on October 11, my friend Rick from Baltimore just yelling "YEAHHHH" on the twelfth, Joe getting "nibbled" by the Lamia on the thirteenth or singing the "Lamb" with the old Verdun gang on the fourteenth - seeing my kids laughing at the slides and my wife constantly saying "were did he go now?", referring to Denis Gagné's Raelian escapades on, around and off the stage brought this experience home for me. I am satisfied.
These shows have permitted me to come to terms with the album that has topped my personal favourites chart for over twenty years. I was able to party with like-minded fans, and meet the TMB team personally. The four shows in Montréal included immensely pleasurable peripheral activities. Meeting old and new acquaintances, breaking bread and conversations galore. Meeting and bonding with a host of people, including the famed Christine and Oliver, are what this experience has been about. The two parties organised by Brigitte and Louise were a highlight. This has been a soul-enriching trip, as those that formed the group at the end of "Supper's Ready" on the dance floor will attest - brother John, Sylvain, Alain, Bri, Frank, Louise, Alan, Véroo, Marla, Bill, Joe, and on and on...
Finally, about the show! Alan wanted to know how the Gatineau performances were. TMB admits that a certain number of performances are required for the "whole" to gel, to get from the "performing it", to the "living it." And naturally, Rael's performance can be the barometer, if you will, that portrays the varying degrees between those two states. Various shows have had various technical difficulties. Some will say this only adds to the "fidelity" of the whole. But as a whole, every performance has been the true experience any Genesis "Lamb" Lover might even, say, travel across the ocean for! Serge Morissette's professionalism and Denis Gagné's showmanship are second to none, and Christian, Sébastien, Guillaume, Éric and the crew have now fulfilled and filled thousands of fans with an experience they will never forget.
The shows in Gatineau were like the shows in Montréal. The crowds were different. Ultimately, that will be the most changing facet of this thing. The Gatineau crowd was older, many people with their children, and it was a theatre - instead of bar - atmosphere. But the experience was the same.
From the opening notes, the combination of slides, choreography, instrumentals and vocals provide a rich combination that is not really meant to be background activity, like some bands can be. This show is exactly what it was billed as in 1974 - a first-of-its-kind rock multimedia experience - à la Peter Gabriel. The awesome instrumental pieces of the Lamb are truly the glue that bind this surreal musical experience together, whether a short one giving Rael time for the next act, or the Lamb king of instrumentals: "The Waiting Room." Live Lamb gives a visual representation of the importance of every musician, every instrument and indeed, every techie.
Rael's positions during the show: singing "Cuckoo Cocoon" on his stomach, "Anyway" on his side, "Supernatural Anaesthetists" sitting, It cloned! The pictorial depiction of the Wall of Death being lowered on Times Square. "Fly on a Windshield" treating us to the first of many strong instrumental sections. The next two pieces served to bring me down to a calmer level - ready for "In The Cage". "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" put me a lighter mood, before Rael bares more of his soul - in story and in music - you can tell by the night fires. I found every time I see "The Lamb", I get a different "high point of the night," and on number six, "Hairless Heart" brought on tears. No, don't read anything into that!
Then we get real light - "Counting Out Time" - lot's of comedic eyebrow movement by Rael. "Carpet Crawlers" evokes a reaction in the crowd every time, not only because of its familiarity, but also the majestic transition to it from the throaty sounds that finish the previous piece. As an amateur vocalist, "The Chamber of 32 Doors" has always been a favourite of mine and it is delivered masterfully! I had not listened to any Lamb bootlegs in so long I had forgotten about the long story here .
"Lilywhite Lilith" is as powerful as ever leading us to "The Waiting Room", which is downright spooky, evoking the memories of the day my Dad walked into the living room twenty five years ago with a very concerned look on his face, saying "My God, what are you listening to". I would have otherwise never known that Rael contributes flute and clarinet to this piece. We see the golden globes very clearly (believe me!) and are treated the thunderous crash. poor Rael. Anyway. some of Christian's most powerful guitar work follows. "Supernatural Anaesthetists" treats us to great instrumental work, and during the last part of it we see activity in the shadows. Something is being hooked up! Next we see Rael having his ultimate experience, while we are treated to an ultimate musical piece with slides that are sublime. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" is heavenly and now evokes memories of someone turning rather ugly!
For the next nine minutes we are treated to the real thing - "Slipperman" in all his glory! And the pain! "Ravine" relaxes me, before delivering "The Light Lies Down On Broadway" which, as a familiar sounding piece, marks the beginning of the end for me. "Riding the Scree" is powerful and Sébastien and Éric really shine. Rael removes his jacket and takes the dive. Sébastien does a quick guitar switch and all is calm for "In The Rapids". But for all the calm of this piece, it's meaning within "The Lamb" is deep, and we are treated with a special moment right after it. Our famous strobing two-Rael effect, and it is very uncharacteristic of what we have had so far. But it's the ending, and everything builds to a crescendo, before an explosive fade to black !!!
True to form, the marvelous Guillaume that treated us to incredible percission and backup vocals throughout, thanks the fans, and sets up for the next. The subtle melody and heart-pounding guitar and percussion sounds of "The Musical Box" as the last number are necessary to bring one down from the explosive finish to "The Lamb". Indeed, I found "Watcher" to be quite anti-climatic as an encore, but in a historical sense, it couldn't be any other way. Ohhhh, to hear "The Knife" here!!!!! It's great to hear the unsuspecting yelling for "Supper's Ready".
Again, I repeat what I have said may times: if you like "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", see this show. Personally (and this is simply an opinion, a gut feeling, no facts!) I think TMB will be able to take this to a wider demographic in the future. So rest easy my American and European friends.