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Arts Diary: Genesis - in a truly magnificent rebirth; CONCERT The Musical Box/ Philharmonic Hall Not a lover of tribute bands Mike Chapple is smitten by this one.

Byline: Mike Chapple

TRIBUTE bands litter the land like unwanted used cars in a dealer's overcrowded parking lot.

But, once in a while, one comes along that's almost as good as the real thing. Take the Musical Box.

For over 10 years, these French Canadians have recreated the stage shows of Genesis from their classic period of 1972 and 1975.

This is the time of albums such as Foxtrot and Selling England By The Pound, complex surreal collections of songscapes with words crafted by magnetic frontman Peter Gabriel.

He would take the stage in bizarre costume (red ballgown with fox head mask, anyone?) and pepper the shows with suggestive monologues before ripping into constructions courtesy of band mates Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks and Phil Collins that sparkled with English eccentricity and, sometimes, menace supreme.

Thirty years ago, they brought their most ambitious work, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, to the Empire to rapturous acclaim.

On Friday night, their doppelgangers did the same - and won the same reaction from a sell-out crowd.

This was a magical experience with no expense - or time - spared in recreating the presentation that tells the tale of New York street punk Rael's voyage of spiritual enlightenment. The original slide show of 1,200 images of New York are intact and the costumes, such as the grotesque Slipperman - complete with inflatable naughty bits - have been reproduced in detail.

Denis Gagne is the spit of a young Gabriel, and if you close your eyes it could be him singing. You can't precisely recreate charisma, of course, but Gagne has a mighty fine stab at it, especially during the spine-tingling encores of the eponymous Musical Box and Watcher of the Skies.

The greatest vindication of this labour of love, though, is that, through the playing of Francois Gagnon (guitar) Sebastion Lamothe (bass) Martin Levac (drums) and Eric Savard (keyboards), there is a reminder of just how good the band really was in its Gabriel incarnation while songs such as The Carpet Crawlers are truly breathtaking.

As a pre-gig Gagne told the Daily Post: 'If it's not worth doing well, then it's not worth doing at all.'

Or as Gabriel himself sang in the fade-out to the Lamb: 'It's only knock and know-all, but I like it.'

And who are we to disagree


In full flow, Musical Box lead singer Denis Gagne recreates Genesis
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 2, 2005
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