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Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

The Musical Box @ The Riverside Theater

Dec. 7, 2007

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December 13, 2007

The version of Genesis that recently wrapped up a North American tour (one that ignored Wisconsin, by the way) was not only missing original frontman Peter Gabriel, but also the theatrics that characterized this most British of progressive-rock acts between 1970 and 1974. Although Genesis performed classics like "Firth of Fifth" and "The Carpet Crawlers" at some point during their reunion tour, the band ignored most of its Gabriel-era material and focused on pop singles.

Enter The Musical Box, a Genesis-approved Canadian band that for almost 15 years has painstakingly recreated Genesis performances from the early '70s, complete with bizarre costumes and props, visual effects, vintage instruments and between-song banter. Unlike the 2007 version of Genesis, members of The Musical Box are no strangers to the Milwaukee area, and they gave their fans at the Riverside Theater last Friday night a rare performance of "The Black Show," which Genesis performed for a limited time in 1974 while supporting Selling England By the Pound.

The sparse, dimly lit stage was surrounded by black curtains on three sides, and two circular projection screens served as its eyes. Guitarist François Gagnon, bassist Sébastien Lamothe, drummer Gregg Bendian and keyboardist David Myers (who actually resemble Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Tony Banks) flawlessly and inconspicuously worked their way through such vintage material as "Supper's Ready," "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight," "Watcher of the Skies" and the song from which The Musical Box takes its name, leaving lead singer Denis Gagné to proudly portray Gabriel's vocal idiosyncrasies and ridiculous onstage behavior.

The Musical Box has moved well beyond "tribute band" status, garnering a nearly cult-like following among old-school Genesis fans, some of whom traveled great distances to be in Milwaukee Friday night, and many of whom no doubt still cringe every time they hear "Invisible Touch."