“Some enchanted evening with The Musical Box” - The Musical Box in concert at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, Candada, 19th January 2019. Review by Joe Zammit. Photos by Michaela Ix.
In a raging snow and ice storm, in minus 20 degrees Celsius weather I made my way to the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on Saturday 19th January to see The Musical Box and its Genesis Extravaganza show. It was an amazing night where I witnessed an incredible musical and visual production. The warmth of the music in this old theatre made up for the storm that was taking place outside.
The show was divided into three definitive sections: The Wind’s Tail, Broadway Melodies, and After The Ordeal. A retrospectiv emixture of albums and songs and even eras. Starting out with pieces from the Wind & Wuthering and A Trick Of the Tail section of their history, then dropping back to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the reaching even further back to Trespass, Nursery Cryme and the Selling England By The Pound albums.
Denis Gagne did a great job impersonating both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins on lead vocals. Sebastien Lamothe on bass guitars pays tribute to Mike Rutherford. Guitarist Francois Gagnon brought forth the talents of Steve Hackett. Keyboardist Ian Benhamou channeled Tony Banks and drummer Bob St-Laurent was absolutely brilliant in re-creating the Phil Collins drums and percussion sounds.
Starting off the show with In That Quiet Earth the band set the tone. I noted that not only did they get the feel and sound of Genesis 1976-77 but the look was there too, The guitars and instruments emulated perfectly the ones played at that time and it was note perfect. On the screen a graphic depicting the familiar Wind & Wuthering tree being enveloped by wind with the leaves rapidly falling away gave you the sense and context of a truly great sound and feel. The easy transition to A Trick Of The Tail and an exquisite instrumental of Robbery, Assault & Battery then followed by a trip back to Wind & Wuthering with Wot Gorilla perfectly summarised and encapsulated the Genesis songs and sounds of that era. The lighting pattern was also reflective of the Genesis stage shows and at once fully and completely you are transported into the world of Genesis.
Blood On the Rooftops being our first entire of music and lyrics was ever faithful and true to the Genesis sound and further to that it was clear that we were immersed in the Genesis spirit. The transformation back in time was magnificently successful It truly was an extravaganza. For me to hear the music played live was a moment realised when I could reconcile the past that I was too young to personally witness with the present where I could truly appreciate what I was seeing and what I was hearing.
|My love of Genesis and all of their music was being manifested and celebrated. Every note, pause and sound all there for me to consume and witness. I had entered that fantastic Genesis universe . The Musical Box are an astounding tribute band and the packed house in the aforementioned snow and ice storm was a testament to their draw and fan dedication. Dance On A Volcano and Los Endos sealed the deal for me. Despite the year being 2019, I was watching and experiencing Genesis for all intents and purposes. After all, wasn’t this the tribute band that Genesis had given all of their images and slides to use on their tours? Was this not the band that has been joined on stage by Steve Hackett and Phil Collins? Didn’t Tony Banks and his wife also attend one of their shows sitting in the front row? When Peter Gabriel wanted his daughters to understand how he entered the music business, didn’t he take them to a Musical Box show? (indeed he did Joe, at the Colston Hall in Bristol, I know because they were sat in the row behind me - AH). So Genesis and its original members have really blessed this tribute band from Montreal, Canada. So if they were good enough for Genesis, if they truly personified the band then I need look no further for validation or confirmation. The Musical Box is the tribute band to see if you want to live, feel, hear and see what Genesis was like all those many years ago. I noted the painstaking efforts they made to look and sound like the original band.|
The Lamb… portion of the show. Well, what can I say other than the title song, Fly On A Windshield, Back In NYC, Counting Out Time, Caroet Crawlers and Lilywhite Lilith flew by in a quick haze of punctuated sound. All enhanced by the entrancing visuals of the original, yes, that’s right, the ORIGINAL slides (safety copies actually, Joe - AH) portrayed on the 1975 Genesis tour background screens. A special note of authenticity was the distinctive black and white double-necked bass guitar that appeared on stage. Rael came back to lie again tonight!
The next section was more or less a real culmination of the less familiar tunes to the live stage. Aisle Of Plenty was introduced as a song that was never played live by Genesis. This was a special treat, as well a true gem in the Genesis canon: Can-Utility & The Coastliners was magnificently recreated. The band noted that this, of all Genesis songs, was a forgotten jewel off the Foxtrot album. Looking For Someone, Time Table, Seven Stones and After The Ordeal were all songs that I had never heard live. There was indeed a great big smile on my face to hear these treasures played in full and experienced in the reverence and respect they deserve. While songs like Firth Of Fifth, Cinema Show and the show closer; Musical Box were like old friends who had been brought out to greet and embrace all of us fans that night.
|Sometimes I wonder why Genesis, whilst a massively successful band, still eludes the pantheon of recognition that the likes of the Stones, the Who etc all receive. Then I question myself and sometimes doubt if Genesis is as good as I think they are. But on a night like tonight, in the middle of a snow and ice storm, I get full confirmation that Genesis truly is a great and magnificent band and that somehow others just seem to consistently miss how truly great they were. First the variation of music from song to song and each song is incredible. Genesis, if anything, is a collective of astounding sound and music. Each section is brilliant on its own. Put together like a symphony, then you truly have musical perfection. It is undeniable when you hear it and when you experience the sound, it is just beautiful. Whatever universe the music comes from, that is where I want to be too.|
Next one must consider the age of these young men when they created these musical achievements. Phil Collins, as Armando Gallo keeps reminding us, was only 19 when he joined Genesis. Each member was innately talented with gifts to create and perform . The live experience of The Musical Box demonstrates the sheer complexity of the Genesis creations. Peter Gabriel with his distinctive voice, depth filled lyrics and fantastic and fanciful stories intertwined with instrumental sound. Steve Hackett with his layered and skilful guitar accents and effects is like the rich icing on the greatest of all tasting cakes. However, of special note in what I saw with The Musical Box and from my perspective, was what I call the powerful element of the “Triumvirate” . Arguably there was some kind of magic in the joining of TonyBanks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins.
|At the core of the music, especially the instrumentals, is the work of these three, and played live it is especially evident and sweet. Brilliantly talented - you get these three ih the same room and the roof blows off! Their combined skill made the band and the music jump from the page, stereo and live stage. Sitting there, you are completely struck by how complicated and complex the music really is to play live. A part of you sits in wonder at how they were able to perform pr re-perform effectively the sheer talent of these musical creations from some forty or more years ago. It is like you have entered a dream that you wish never to end. As the person who was sitting beside me said at he end of the show - “This was all food for the brain”. In summation, The Musical Box demonstrates night after night that Genesis was an amazing band to see and hear and experience. It truly was an extravaganza. As I left the theatre and walked out into the continuing storm that was still slamming Toronto, my heart filled with the warmth of an unforgettable musical experience. Thank you The Musical Box, you are gold standard!|