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The Musical Box - Saarbrücken 2007


Selling England By The Pound live in Saarlandhalle, Saarbrücken (19/01/2007)


The magic of yore


flowerVirtual journey into the 80s and the 70s are currently very popular. Private TV stations churn out “ultimate” restrospectives with wannabe celebrities and  old stuff from the archives. One station here in Germany currently shows the very original series “Life On Mars” in which an inspector from the present goes back to 1973.

Pablo Picasso and J.R.R.Tolkien died in 1973. The United States were shaken by Watergate. Glam and progressive rock rules the charts: Albums like Dark Side Of The Moon, Yessongs, Brain Salad Surgery and Tubular Bells came out. David Bowie sold more than eight million records and became the most successful artist since The Beatles. In January 2007 the charts were topped by Nelly Furtado and Monrose. No wonder people who had not even been born back then yearned for 1973.

In 1973 Genesis released Selling England By The Pound, a milestone in the band’s oeuvre. I was six years old at the time – too young to experience the band in the Gabriel era. I discovered Genesis through Three Sides Live in the 80s and quickly worked my way back to the early albums. At Peter Gabriel’s Growing Up show in Oberhausen 2003 I was excited like a kid in a candy store when a flyer told me about The Musical Box. They promised to be an exact replica of the 1973 Genesis show. A few months later I sat in Jahrhunderthalle Frankfurt, and felt doubly transported back into the past – into the early 80s when I would listen all the time to Live, Trespass, Foxtrot and the other Genesis albums and of course into the 70s when the music was first performed live.

The current performance of The Musical Box in Saarbrücken was the sixth time I have seen the band and the third time I saw them do the Selling tour. I knew the set list and the song introductions by heart, of course. The new thing for me was to see the show from the first row, so I paid more attention to the individual musicians and less to the still impressive stage and light show. Though I knew exactly what to expect I was again thrilled by the show – by the music and, of course, also by the theatrical performance of Denis Gagné as Peter Gabriel that was central to the show.

In a book called Strange Fascination the English journalist David Buckley mentions how Peter Gabriel and David Bowie influenced each other. While the media focused on Bowie’s friendship and rivalry with Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, he writes, it was the member of a progressive rock band who most resembled Bowie’s theatricality: Peter Gabriel. Like Bowie, Gabriel developed surreal stage costumes in the early 70s for his performances with the art rock band Genesis. If Bryan Ferry matched Bowie as an agent provocateur of art rock then so was Gabriel as an actor.

What is it that made Gabriel-era Genesis such an influence for later bands such as Marillion, Pallas, Spock’s Beard and others? Perhaps it is that they managed to bring together the best of glam rock and progressive rock on the stage. Their music was much more sophisticated and demanding than that of, say, Queen or T.Rex, yet they wrote songs and no rambling epics with which Yes and ELP would occasionally fail – and they had a good sense of humour.

The Musical Box have recreated the Genesis shows with lots of enthusiasm, idealism and an almost compulsive perfectionism. Their versions of Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box or Supper’s Ready had us stoked – and the sound in Saarbrücken was nearly perfect, unlike, I am told, on other shows of the tour.

The real merit of the band lies in the circumstance that it was their performance that made me understand the fascination for Genesis and why the music continues to inspire other bands to this day. And why people like me still go to the Genesis reunion shows – because some of the magic of yore still surrounds them.

By Marcus Pennekamp
English by Martin Klinkhardt



Never as intense as in 2007


flowerThe Saarbrücken concert was my fourth TMB show after my first Selling show in 2004 and two Lamb shows in 2005 and 2006. Thanks to a colleague who had ordered tickets from WiV I had great seats: centre, second row, as good as it gets. After the first Selling show I knew I had to see it again. Along with Mainz 2007 this was the best show I have ever seen from TMB. The band had such fun playing and the audience was in a terrific mood, too. Here is a brief rundown of the setlist:

Watcher Of The Skies: Is there a better way to begin a concert? No. The magic was back right away. 


Dancing With The Moonlit Knight: Captured me as it had not for a long time.

The Cinema Show: This song is always great live because there is not video footage of Genesis playing it. A pity, really, because it is visually impressive.

I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe): Something to relax after four big long numbers – but I have never heard the song performed with so much oomph.

Firth Of Fifth: Like The Cinema Show, there is no video footage of Genesis playing it on their Selling England show. The middle part was particularly strong.

The Musical Box: One of the highlights that night. Has always been one of my favourite Genesis songs. The ending with the Old Man – gigantic!

Horizons: After such a high a little rest is necessary and provided by this fine acoustic intermezzo.

The Battle Of Epping Forest: The song is certainly good, but it cannot quite keep up with the rest. Impressive performance with lots of costume changes.

Supper’s Ready: What else can be said about it? These 22 minutes went by in a blink. The high point was, of course, the Apocalypse with the strobe light effects and the end with a bang. This is the most intense ending to a show and I had tears in my eyes.

But that was not all, there was an encore:

The Knife: I like this song, but I have never heard it in such a hard rock version – now it has become one of my absolute favourites; the end with the strobe lights in particular is stunning.

The sound was excellent; TMB actually have one of the best sound systems I have ever seen. I had seen the Selling show before, but I never realized it was this intense. Perhaps it was my seat in the second row that made me decide to also go to Mainz where TMB would play the Foxtrot show I had not seen before.

By Daniel Müller
English by Martin Klinkhardt

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