By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While plenty of musicians make ends meet by playing in cover bands, some tribute groups transcend mere mimicry with their passion and obsessive attention to detail. Now in operation for nearly 25 years, the French Canadian progressive-rock virtuosos who make up the Musical Box regularly draw sold-out crowds their meticulous, note-for-note re-creations of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis tours.
Pulling off the complex music, elaborate costumes, and ambitious theatrics that made the early ’70s line-up of Genesis one of the most revered British prog-rock outfits of the era, Montreal-based crew the Musical Box give fans who got to see Genesis decades ago and those who weren’t even born until after the ’70s a chance to experience the wonder of the tours the group embarked on between 1972 and 1974. Original members of Genesis have given ringing endorsements to the group, bringing their children to see singer Denis Gagné and company perform their early material so they could experience what it was like.
Those multimedia productions matched — and, in some cases, even topped — the mind-bending concert spectacle of Pink Floyd during the same era thanks to dazzling lighting design and Gabriel’s surreal costumed transformations. The Musical Box has not only dedicated themselves to mounting their detailed recreation of the band’s classic tours for Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound, but went so far as to buy the exclusive rights to mount a production of the sprawling double concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The licensing included access to the 1,200 slides that were used for projected backdrop on the original tour that proved to be Gabriel’s swan song with Genesis before he embarked on his successful solo career.
It was that The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour that first brought the Musical Box to San Francisco back in 2004 when they headlined the Masonic Auditorium. The band has made the Regency Ballroom a regular stop ever since, performing to packed houses on an almost annual basis. On it’s current tour, the Musical Box celebrates the 50th anniversary of Genesis by presenting the two distinctive live shows that Genesis mounted to promote Selling England by the Pound in the U.K. and the States with a special encore of songs from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
The Musical Box
Monday-Tuesday, Feb. 5-6, 8 p.m. $47.50-$65
The Regency Ballroom