ARTS DIARY: Musical box opens for the last time.
OCTOBER 23, 1973. Thirty-four years ago. Hard to believe that such a long time has passed so quickly since the band, Genesis, with charismatic frontman Peter Gabriel, played Liverpool's Empire Theatre on their Selling England By The Pound tour.
Back then, they weren't the cheery, chirpy, pop chart friendly funsters of latter years. With Gabriel at the helm, before he did a runner in 1975, their songs were bitter-sweet affairs of dark fantasy, embellished live by the singer's macabre introductory tales and bizarre costumes.
No happy-clappy love songs here, no sir.
This being before the MTV/video generation, however, the young and curious would have been deprived of finding out what the fuss was all about.
Except, that is, for The Musical Box, one of the most meticulous of all tribute bands. Since they were formed in Montreal during the early 1990s by musicians who were only tiny tots when Genesis played Liverpool half an average lifetime ago, they've been recreating the live sets played by the band during the period 1972 to 1975.
Singer Denis Gagne even spookily looks and sounds like a mid 20-year-old Gabriel.
Testimony to just how good they are will come from those who saw them performGenesis's The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway in the past two successive years at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.
Now they're coming back to the Phil on Saturday, March 10, to recreate that magic night from 1973.
Watcher Of The Skies will be the opener, followed by the Selling England set, climaxing with the apocalyptic classic Supper's Ready - with The Knife as encore.
Given that three of the original members, Collins, Rutherford and Banks, will be reforming sans Gabriel this summer, and that this is the Box's final ever tour, then this is a must-see gig for fans of the Gabriel/Genesis manifestation.
"It's been 15 years and we just figured it was time to do something else," said The Musical Box drummer, Martin Levac, speaking from his Hamburg hotel room of their final appearances, midway through their European tour.
After a rest, he said, there are tentative plans to resurrect the band for a reprise of Genesis's Trick of The Tail tour of 1976, the first with Collins as replacement frontman. Being the drummer, Martin's a big fan of Collins and being only 35 he actually only got into the band in 1986 when he first heard Invisible Touch - by which time many Gabriel period fans thought the band had become far too dinky-doo.
"Their music was quite something - and is still quite something," he said.
And thanks to The Musical Box you're about to find out why.
The Musical Box singer, Denis Gagne, as Peter Gabriel; Another outfit . . .