The lamb lies down on Broadway. It is a sentence that stirs the soul of hard-core progressive-rock fans who know the days when Peter Gabriel fronted Genesis while Phil Collins concentrated on complex time signatures on an intricate drum kit. Those fans also know The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
as the 1974 album created before Gabriel left the group to raise his first child with his wife and "grow cabbages."
Of course, Gabriel would return to music as a solo artist so recognizable in British pop, the notion of his fronting Genesis almost seemed like it happened in a parallel universe. Though the Lamb lingers in the shadows of Pink Floyd's The Wall, some hard-core prog fans rank it among the greatest early concept albums ever produced.
The only double album by Genesis, it features intricate musicianship, ranging from atmospheric and luscious to bombastic and cacophonous. One of the many straws that led to Gabriel's departure was his campaign for complete control over the album's lyrics, which cover a surreal, metaphysical journey of self-actualization for a Puerto Rican New York street punk. The twisting, dreamlike lyrics cover existentialism, death, the afterlife, and sex on an almost mythic level.
It spawned no hit singles, and staging it proved a challenge beyond all other previous Genesis shows, known for Gabriel's complex costumes and occasional levitation on wires. There was the complexity of the accompanying slideshow, multiple projectors, dangerous pyrotechnics, and one costume that proved difficult for the singer to hold a microphone to his mouth.
The shows, which were never filmed in their entirety, became legend. With Gabriel showing little interest in a reunion and Collins retired from drumming due to a back injury, here comes The Musical Box
, the only officially sanctioned Genesis tribute band, who had unprecedented access to the band's master recordings of the album and the original slides used during the 1974 Lamb
When the Montreal-based band, which has been covering Genesis and restaging the band's shows for about 20 years, takes the stage at the Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 2, it does not want to offer a reinvention or its own take on the album. It wants to transport fans of Genesis back to 1974. "The whole point of the show is to give the audience the illusion they are watching Genesis in '74," said singer Denis Gagné.
Gagné knows this period of Genesis well, even if he was too young to have ever seen Genesis live with Peter Gabriel. When I spoke to him over the phone ahead of the show, I could have sworn I heard his French-Canadian accent shift into Gabriel's southeast English accent at one point. "One of my dreams when I was a kid was to play 'Supper's Ready' once in my life, and now I can't count how many times I've played that song," he said with a laugh, referring to the epic 25-minute song that takes up the entire second side of Genesis' 1972 album Foxtrot.
He and his band mates have since performed around the globe as the '70s-era Genesis. They have even had members of the original band in their audience, including Gabriel. The Musical Box, named after Genesis' "hit" 1972 ten-minute song, have already performed Lamb about 200 times, according to Gagné.
Since 2001, the band has toured as Lamb-era Genesis three times, and it does not seem to be slowing down. "We'll do the Lamb for a couple of years, and then for a couple of years, we're gonna be playing another show, like Selling England [By the Pound] or something," Gagné explained. "Most of the time, we'll be playing a show for two years, and then play another show for a couple of years. Of course, every time we do one show, every fan is asking, 'When are you guys going to do the other one?' Well, we just started this one. You missed it [laughs]. Just wait for it."
The Musical Box. 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at the Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Call 954-797-5531, or visit seminolehardrockhollywood.com. Tickets cost $59, $49 and $39 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.
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