St. Albans Arena
The Musical Box are billed as more than as tribute band, given that they have acquired the actual stage sets, costumes and some instruments from Genesis and have had the thumbs up from the original members. The first half opens with “The Eleventh Earl of Marr” and it becomes apparent that we are in Phil Collins era for the most part with impeccable reproductions of tracks from “Wind and Wuthering”, “A Trick of the Tail” and even “…and then there were three” which I really like though more serious Genesis heads think is a bit thin.
It is immediately apparent that the band are top players, perfectly reproducing the parts pretty much note for note, with “Phil” grinning and clattering around the kit just like the real thing. “Tony” even reproduces Mr. Banks’ slightly prim expression as he trills out signature keyboard lines. Tribute bands stand or fall on the vocals and here they are right on the money. A minor frustration is that the vocals are slightly too low in the mix – as Feedback File remarks to me, recreating crap 70s live sound is possibly a tip to authenticity too far. It’s polished and immaculate and you could be listening to the real thing.
For me the magic happens in the second set. In the intermission the stage is reconfigured and the keyboard rig rebuilt with a (I think) original Genesis Hammond organ and synths. We are back in the early days, with tracks from “Trespass”, “Nursery Cryme” and “Foxtrot” complete with triple 12 string acoustic guitar action as we remember that Genesis started as a quirky semi acoustic art-pop band. It’s fabulous. Without the benefit of a time machine to go back to 1972 this is as close as you could possibly get to hearing early Genesis, and in a venue which is pretty much the sort of place they would have played before the stadia beckoned – tech colleges and student unions.
The gig ends and of course they come back, striking up “Supper’s Ready” with the singer in Peter Gabriel’s original red dress and fox head. Feedback File emotionally tells me he saw Genesis third on the bill in 1971 (below Van Der Graaf Generator and Lindisfarne if you’re asking) and this very fox head was there too. The band leave the stage to well deserved rapturous applause.
Mostly saggy of jowl and shiny of pate. I had a phone watcher and two talkers in front of me (though the talkers buggered off thankfully) and, most irritatingly, a chair kicker behind me, a woman positively vibrating with excitement throughout the gig against the back of my seat.
It made me think..
On the way home my pal Ben spots a fox trot across the road in front of us. The skies are watching.