Concert Reviews

The Musical Box - A Genesis Extravaganza Tour Pt 2 Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 09, 2020    
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The Musical Box - A Genesis Extravaganza Tour Pt 2 - Barbican, York (UK) - 06 February 2020

I have seen the Musical Box before, more than once, and, if you are an older era Genesis fan, it's more than likely you will have too. If not, then you have missed the closest thing to Gabriel-fronted Genesis that you could wish to see. Not only do they produce the music as good as it was in the day, but also the visual spectacle with lighting, costumes and everything else down to the Nth degree, firmly based in the Gabriel era. Well, actually they were, as it now seems they are doing selections from what people call the "Collins era", or as we know it, the more commercial stuff. I was... concerned.

Starting promptly at 8pm and all dressed in "whiteish" clothing, 'Eleventh Earl Of Mar' hinted that they were going to do the "bigger" songs, and generally that was the case with the first section made up of 'Dance On A Volcano', 'Down And Out', an unusual medley of '...In That Quiet Earth', 'Robbery Assault And Battery' and 'Wot Gorilla' and 'Los Endos' (don't need to tell you where), with the quieter, but no less impressive, 'Entangled' and 'Ripples' in the mix also. I guessed that the second section, I won't say "half" because it was considerably longer than the first, would probably be Gabriel era stuff, and I knew I was right when they put the bass drum front and centre stage before they re-appeared.

Vocalist Denis (Gabriel) Gagné was now dressed all in black to deliver 'Fountain Of Salmacis', and my thoughts at this stage were, although they played the later stuff very well, this is the stuff we came to hear, and that probably made it better. Twelve-string guitars, a fretless bass, flute and triangle (with fairly new drummer Bob St-Laurent) were on stage for 'Stagnation' from the 'Trespass' album, after which we were told an interesting thing that the next song was originally titled 'Bye Bye Johnny' before being re-named 'Can Utility And The Coast Liners' from 'Foxtrot'. I thought I knew a lot about early Genesis, but have to admit that this was new to me. I was surprised (but don't really know why) that they did another song from 'Trespass' with 'Looking For Someone'. With rapidly colour-changing lights placed underneath them, it gave the impression, from our elevated position on the right, that each member was rapidly moving slightly up and down. A real classic followed with 'Firth Of Fifth' and that guitar solo, which would probably rank as Steve Hackett's 'Comfortably Numb'. Denis "Gabriel" now told us a "completely irrelevant" (his words) story, which I actually found interesting, as I was unaware that the original band had asked artist Betty Swanwick to adapt a painting she had already done for the 'Selling England By The Pound' album cover, due to lack of time before the release.

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They then did 'Cinema Show' where the vocals lost it a bit in the higher registers, but which was enhanced by the use of a mirror ball, and saw the vocalist and guitarist François Gagnon both now playing keyboards. Some more information that I was unaware of was then imparted as we were told that the artist of the album covers of 'Trespass', 'Foxtrot' and 'Selling England...' named all of those albums. I started to feel my knowledge was sorely lacking. Denis briefly departed at the start of 'Musical Box' to, I thought, fetch his old man mask for the transformation before the end of the song, but surprised I was when he walked back on with the red dress and fox head mask, normally used in 'Supper's Ready', and having seen this played by Genesis with Gabriel, it just didn't seem right.

So this was the end of the main set at 10:30, but after the audience had done coordinated applause, which you don't see very often, it wasn't long before they came back on and performed 'Supper's Ready' which was obviously the perfect end. I have to admit to being disappointed that no 'Flower Mask' or any other type of costume was used during this, particularly as Denis went off before the 'Willow Farm' section, only to return dressed the same but apparently with bare feet. He may have started the song this way, but I hadn't noticed.

And after almost three hours, that was it for now. I was aware that they had not played anything from 'The Lamb...' but surmised that was because they will be coming back next year with that show, so are saving it for then. I had noticed throughout the evening that occasionally the vocals were a little strained, but also that the new drummer does have a much stronger voice than the previous one. Also, how busy Sébastien Lamothe was throughout, playing bass, fretless bass, twelve string guitar, double neck, bass pedals, vocals, and apparently he is the musical director. And not forgetting guitarist François Gagnon, with his Hackett sounding guitar and that lead and keyboardist Ian Benhamou, who nailed the sound so accurately that you could close your eyes and think it was the man himself. Hey, he has what looks like a genuine Melotron, and that would swing it for me on its own (Although I do remember Tony's being white, where Ian's was black. A small thing, but these guys really do like to nail it). Catch them next year, and see what it was really like.

Set 1- Eleventh Earl Of Mar, Dance On A Volcano, Entangled, Down And Out, ...In That Quiet Earth / Robbery, Assault And Battery / Wot Gorilla?, Ripples, Los Endos
Set 2:- The Fountain Of Salmacis, Stagnation, Can-Utility And The Coastliners, Looking For Someone, Firth Of Fifth, The Cinema Show, Aisle Of Plenty, The Musical Box.
Encore: Supper's Ready.

Andy Brailsford.

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