Review by Matt Riley
Last Friday, the Musical Box came to the Riviera Theatre in Tonawanda. The Montreal-born Genesis tribute band played a theatrical recreation of the seminal album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway."
A monster in terms of prog-rock and concept albums, "The Lamb" describes a troubled, half Puerto Rican youth's surrealistic struggle to understand the world around him as well as his own duality. Genesis' last work with lead singer Peter Gabriel, the tour following the 1974 album was full of costume changes, theatrics, a three-screen slide show, pyrotechnics, lights and, of course, plenty of musical talent.
According to the Musical Box's website, it is the only band with performing rights from Peter Gabriel and Genesis to perform "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." Not only did this enable the band to play the show in its entirety, but the Musical Box also used the original three-screen slide show as a backdrop throughout the concert. Pop culture and political icons, artwork and urban scenery provided the ambiance Genesis had intended.
Singer Denis Gagne was dressed as "The Lamb's" protagonist, Rael, in a leather jacket, jeans and a white shirt. With his impeccable spoken version of Rael's story between songs, one couldn't help but be drawn into the narrative.
Mirroring Genesis' production, the Musical Box featured a double-necked six-string bass and 12-string guitar to match Mike Rutherford's, and an extensive drum and percussion setup to emulate Phil Collins' sound on the original tour. And emulate the band did. All of the ethereal soundscapes, the mood-setting organ and the finger-blistering sweep-picking and finger-tapping were there. All with the intensity and emotion that make a live show great.
The second half of "The Lamb" brought numerous costume changes and a much more palpable sense of the surreal. A spinning, cone-shaped structure covering Gagne during "The Lamia" was reminiscent of a giant kaleidoscope and gave way to a white body suit glowing in the black light. The iconic and grotesque "Slipperman" costume was spot-on, complete with giant warts and inflatable genitalia.
As if the 90-minute theatrical concert was not enough, the Musical Box returned after a powerful standing ovation. The encore began with a rendition of its namesake and continued with "Watcher of the Skies," which added nearly 30 minutes to the show.
For the "Watcher of the Skies" finale, Gagne donned a large, rainbow-colored cape and bat wings on his head in the same fashion as Gabriel's original. This many-hued, electric climax was the ideal culmination of a very trippy show, leaving a resounding applause and many an audible "Wow!" throughout the audience.