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Miracles! Despite being flipped off at the end of their epic recreation of Genesis’ 1974 The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway show by an audience member in the middle of the album’s perky, driving finale of “It” in a half-empty Hard Rock Live, The Musical Box are returning to South Florida. But the one expressive dissenter, who strode to the front of the stage to deliver the salute, was by no means in the majority. I wrote an approving review (read it here) as did a colleague at the blog Salty Eggs (read it here). My companion for the night, experimental musician Ed Matus, also gave his approval.

So when the Montreal Genesis tribute band head back to perform much of the band’s 1973 album, Selling England By the Pound, I will be there (As of press time, Ed is consulting his budget). This time the show will unfold at the more intimate Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. I did attempt to secure an interview with the band’s frontman/Peter Gabriel impersonator Denis Gagné, but I got no response from the venue’s publicist. I still bought tickets and plan to review the show over the weekend. Also, I had some leftover quotes from my 2012 phone chat with Gagné (read the two original articles here), some of which I was recently able to fashion into a new story for the local ‘zine Pure Honey. Read it by jumping through the publication’s logo below:

pure honey

As you might tell by that story I still had lots of colorful info about the formation of this tribute band, which is officially sanctioned by Genesis. The British prog rock legends even gave the band access to master tapes for The Lamb and consulted them for the recreation of the band’s Lamb slide show for a DVD version of the album. That deep connection they share with The Lamb would have been interesting to explore further with a follow-up chat. I would have loved to have asked Gagné about that one-fingered salute the band got at the end of their incredible 90-minute production, as it was actually a meta moment considering the original band’s premiere of The Lamb material. They took the full double album on tour preceding the album’s release, leaving many fans who had anticipated familiar material disappointed.

But this is about the reproduction of both the 1972 Foxtrot tour and 1973 Selling England tour (see the tour dates here). In 2012, Gagné admitted to me he prefers these shows because of the amount of costume changes demanded of him. Like many late-blooming Genesis fans (including this writer), he was too young to have attended any of the Genesis shows featuring Peter Gabriel, who would leave TheMusicalBox_PhotoBy_GustavoQuintas_4the band in 1975 for a noteworthy solo career. Gagné said he first got into Genesis when he was 10 years old, in 1977, but it wasn’t with that year’s Wind and Wuthering, the band’s second album with drummer Phil Collins as frontman. “The first Genesis album I bought was Foxtrot,” he said, “and then I bought Genesis Live because when I saw that cover I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what is happening here?’”

What was happening there was the finale of “Supper’s Ready,” the band’s most ambitious song. At around the 20-minute point of the song Gabriel dons a red geometrical headdress and a black robe for a character he called Magog. Beyond its biblical reference, it was a delightfully weird image for a 10-year-old to process and an inspired alternative to what was on the pop charts then. “I was in the fifth grade,” said Gagné. “Everyone thought I was some kind of weirdo at school. They were listening to Grease, and I don’t know what else.”

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He would grow up dreaming of performing “Supper’s Ready” live himself. Now, he has lost count of the number of times he has recreated the song on stage with his mates in The Musical Box, which he joined 20 years ago. As they prepare to recreate Genesis’ live show from the touring era of Selling England By Pound, costumes and all, it means Gagné will indeed play it once more, but this time, for the first time in South Florida (the set list is hidden on this page). The following night, it’s on to The Plaza Live Orlando for a Foxtrot performance, which will also include “Supper’s Ready” (and here’s where you can find that set list). The tour continues to Europe in October where they will again alternate between the two shows through Nov. 29.

Hans Morgenstern

The Musical Box will appear at The Parker Playhouse on Friday, July 25, at 8 p.m. Tickets: $37.50 – $47.50. VIP Tickets: $62.50. Get tickets here.

(Copyright 2014 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

If the lack of music coverage on this blog about music and film has seemed apparent, that is because I have returned to freelancing at the two South Florida-based “New Times” publications. They pay, but they have exclusive control. They are also print, which still matters to many musicians, labels and venues, so I did get some good “gets,” the first being a phone conversation with the singer of the official Genesis cover band, the Musical Box, who are based in Montreal, Canada.

Though the mere mention of the name Genesis makes many flashback to Phil Collins and hits like “Invisible Touch,” to this writer, the true Genesis existed within the progressive rock scene of the early seventies with Peter Gabriel as theatrical frontman. The Musical Box specialize in that era of the band. Speaking to the band’s singer, Denis Gagné, it immediately became apparent that he too shares a special nostalgia for the early Gabriel-era Genesis. I spoke to Gagné ahead of the band’s South Florida debut to perform the band’s 1974 double album the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, scheduled for tomorrow.

As the Musical Box is the only Genesis tribute band officially sanctioned by Genesis, they were granted amazing access to the original Master tapes of the Lamb. “Me and Sébastien [Lamothe, the band’s co-founder] sat down at the Farm studio, at the board and played with the tracks,” said Gagné with a laugh. “So every texture that we were wondering, ‘What is going on here? we could hear, actually.”

It is a dense album both thematically and musically*. Even for Gagné, a long-time Genesis fan since the age of 10, in the late seventies, the Lamb, revealed more of its power as he grew more familiar with the music. “It’s a masterpiece. A lot of the songs that I used not to like … I’m a big fan of now, since we play them on stage … like ‘Back in New York City’ I used to not be a fan of because I used to think, ‘I can’t sing that. He’s screaming.’ For a singer, it’s not something you look forward to,” he said and laughed. “But then, when we played the song together, it’s such a strong riff and the whole feeling is really, really awesome. It changed my whole perspective of the song. It’s one of the songs I love to play and that I love to listen to, which was not the case when I was younger.”

Gagné said his band tries to do justice to Genesis as they performed the album back in the mid-seventies. They looked at photos and video clips, like the one below, which features part of “Back in NYC,” filmed in Bern, Switzerland in 1975:

Tickets are still available for the show. You can read more of my interview with Gagné in the original preview piece for the “Broward/Palm Beach New Times” by clicking on the publication’s logo here:

The article covers the significance of this era of Genesis and also what the Lamb is superficially about with some more quotes from Gagné. They also published a retrospective piece I wrote on the ever-changing look of Gabriel from song-to-song during his productive if underrated years in Genesis.There are many pictures and video clips, click on Gabriel’s mug below to jump to that article, entitled “Nicki Minaj of Prog: The Many Faces of Peter Gabriel’s Genesis Years”:

Edit: The “Broward/Palm Beach New Times” posted my review of the show here (disappointed no photog was there). Read it here.

Hans Morgenstern

*In the not too distant future I plan to write an appreciation to the subtleties of the album, so follow this blog for the appearance of that in the next few days.

(Copyright 2012 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Today, Nov, 23, Churchill’s Pub and Dangerfun will host The Bends: A Radiohead Tribute. Several local bands will take the stage to play their  favorite Radiohead tunes. Among them Andy Christ, Lindsaybell, Ian Michael, Rebel, Xela Zaid, boxwood, Triple Gem, Gonzo Danny, Jackie Ransom, Joikels, Johnny OneTwo, BadAss (edit: BadAss has cancelled due to illness, I am told by Churchill’s. Eric Schwartz will fill in) and DJ Saul Good.

The doors open at 8 p.m., and the show begins at 9. Those below drinking age will need to give up $5 to get in, and anyone over 21 is expected to drink. Here’s Xela Zaid’s take on “Paranoid Android,” which I love, only because it sounds so distinctly Xela-esque– only he can make an acoustic guitar sound so luscious and noisy at once, but if any of the songs are going to be as loosely interpreted as this, drink might help:

I might make it out to the show. I do love me some Radiohead. Actually, they have come to be one of my all-time favorite bands but totally by surprise. I never thought I would be a Radiohead completist (as far as songs go– not formats– those people are crazy), but it turns out I have all their albums on vinyl, including the fancy version of In Rainbows pictured below.

To top it off, I recently completed my new Radiohead collection of deluxe editions (the double CD+DVD versions). I wound up with practically brand new sets of Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief at reasonable used prices (just under $20 each thanks to wherehouse.com).

In the wake of these purchases, I had noticed an odd sort of backlash against the band, probably prompted by “Spin Magazine”’s Nov. 9, 2009 cover issue. “16 Rock Myths Debunked.” Well, here was the leading myth by Chris Norris:

Rock Myth No. 1: Radiohead Can Do No Wrong

Reality: Radiohead kinda blow

Now, I shan’t fault him for his view, nor all the others he invited onto his Radiohead haters bandwagon. His key argument is that they put him off because they behave so dang pretentious. I’ll admit the band seems to rationalize every release, looking for a purpose or reason to release an album. “So they’re a band, making records. Why all the newspeak? Does Radiohead’s every move have to be without precedent? Must they define a new music language?” he moans. Look, fine, I’ll go with that. A true artist will know humility and be happy with it. Yet, it does seem Radiohead strain to be vital with each and every release, sometimes quite self-consciously changing up their sound (most especially with Kid A and Amnesiac).

Whatever the rhetoric they may couch their logic for releasing an album, it does nothing to detract from how consistently interesting each of their releases have been since Pablo Honey in 1993.  With every release, Radiohead has impressed me, but the band never won me over as a dedicated fan until Amnesiac. Now, don’t misinterpret that. As a college radio DJ, I was there in 1993 when the “Creep” single first made the rounds on college radio and later started appearing on heavy rotation on MTV’s alternative rock show “120 Minutes.” I also caught Radiohead live on Miami Beach opening up for Belly at the intimate Cameo Theater, where I also got Thom Yorke’s and Jonny Greenwood’s autographs*.

But I was a very casual fan then (my passion then was for Stereolab more than Radiohead. Ironically, I’m more interested in what Radiohead is currently doing than Stereolab). I went to their show with Belly only because the college radio station I worked for, Florida International University’s WUFI, then on 540 AM, had free tickets. I remember my date and I screaming “Lurgee” between songs, whenever we had the chance, as that was my favorite track on Pablo Honey. Still, they never played it that night. Even later on, when we clarified by yelling “I feel better,” the song’s opening line, Yorke just responded with “good for you.” Clearly, this is not the kind of guy who likes being told what to do or satisfy any expectations, even back then. After I met him and Greenwood, I asked Greenwood why they didn’t play “Lurgee,” he said, “I don’t why we didn’t play it. We usually do.”

Anyway, back then it was all just a freak encounter. I loved their layers of guitars, which back then sounded like an easier to digest My Bloody Valentine. It was all fun and interesting, but my interest in them was only casual. When it came to bands with layers of guitar noise, I preferred Kitchens of Distinction’s work (a more obscure band, I know, yet they did the lush layers of guitar noise as early as ’89) to Radiohead. Once again, I’m quite over the Kitchens’ now dated sounding work in comparison to Radiohead’s. In the meantime, Yorke became amused by the two pretty Miami girls hanging off him on either arm.

When OK Computer came out, critics began comparing Radiohead with Pink Floyd and Genesis and other prog rock artists of the early 70s. Probably most lazily due to the sound of the Mellotron on “Exit Music (For a Film)” and the lengthy, time-shifting “Paranoid Android,” which became an MTV hit at the time. I thought the Bends had been a strong follow-up to Pablo Honey for sure, and had bought that CD soon after its release. But OK Computer was the first of their albums to totally blow me away and feels like my favorite album.

Then came the two albums almost designed to push away the casual fan: Kid A and Amnesiac. I bought Kid A soon after its release. It was a curious departure as it melded the avant-dance-oriented break beats of Aphex Twin and rock. It wasn’t so much a new sound, as it harvested certain music schemes that came before it (it wasn’t too different from what Moby or even Brian Eno only a few years earlier). It wasn’t a perfect album, as only one song grabbed me immediately: “Morning Bell,” but it would casually grow on me over the years as amazingly atmospheric songs began to take shape like “Everything In Its Right Place” and “How to Disappear Completely.”

Then came a fateful trip on train, crossing the Czech Republic with a class from FIU, during my studies for a Master’s degree. It was an overcast day and the grassy countryside spotted with modest cottages zipped past my window. One student had offered to loan me his CD copy of Amnesiac, which I had not got around to buying, skeptical after Kid A‘s then seeming half-assed quality. Then, “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box” started up on its metallic beat. With my attention on the adventurous development of the song, as I stared out at the passing landscape, my love for Radiohead had solidified.

With every subsequent release, I was there as a fan, even if Hail to the Thief felt a little weak upon first listen. It did grow on me, much as Kid A had. Then came In Rainbows, which I downloaded for free from Radiohead’s website, since they said I could pay whatever I wanted. My experience with their prior albums merited that price. They would have to earn my appreciation and money. However, it only took a few listens before I knew I would pay more than $80 for the aforementioned deluxe version on two 45 rpm vinyl LPs in a hardbound case with fancy abstract art book and a bonus CD of outtakes, along with the CD of the album.

I have no regrets. I dare say In Rainbows, may finally be that Radiohead album that ideally melds their electro tendencies with guitar-oriented rock. It leaves me looking forward for the new album, which I hear they are close to finishing (see Greenwood’s post on their official site here).

*You’ll notice I handed Thom a notepad asking him a couple of questions, as my editor (a not-much-older faculty member) wanted me to write an article about the then rising trend of moshing (the small bits of research thankfully never amounted to anything more than this humorous autograph). It was noisy there in the alleyway outside the club, so I asked him just to fill it out. I saw that he signed it, so I just thought “what the heck” and  handed the pad to Jonny, so he might autograph it. I now keep the autographs below the CD tray of my Pablo Honey CD, which I got for a few cents from the BMG club later on.

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)