LIVE: Rael (Genesis Tribute) @ The Linda, 04/02/2022

Funny thing, tribute bands.

I was recently back home in England visiting family, and as a birthday surprise, my younger brother and his girlfriend got me a ticket to see “ELO Again”, an Electric Light Orchestra tribute band. I rather enjoyed it, once one gets over the fact that familiar music is being presented on stage by unfamiliar people. Also, I was impressed during an hour and a half set just how many hits ELO actually had (well, in England anyway.)

Rael don’t do “hits.”

If you came to The Linda Saturday night expecting to hear Phil Collins fronted radio favorites like “Invisible Touch”, or “In too deep” or “Throwing it all away” you would have left disappointed.

No, Rael covers Genesis’ most progressive period, the time spanning 1970 to 74 when they were fronted by the idiosyncratic Peter Gabriel. Interestingly, they also throw in some of his solo material after he left the band.

The clue is in their chosen name, the moniker of the protagonist in Genesis’ bonkers but brilliant concept album/rock opera/musical “The Lamb lies down on Broadway.” Rael features no less than five songs from this magnum opus in their set, opening with the title track.

This is prog with a capital “P” and not for the faint-hearted. Keyboard glissandos, guitar pyrotechnics, and twisty time signatures played thunderously by the rhythm section abound. All fronted by the just plain weird Lloyd Gold on lead vocals and flute, channeling his inner Gabriel. Although not always successful, you have to give it to Gold for going all in, the whole hog (weed). His voice is uncannily similar to Gabriel at times, particularly in a dramatic “Rhythm of the Heat” which opens the second set. He is more comfortable in the lower registers and strains in some numbers, but this is fiercely difficult stuff to sing. And he embraces the quirkiness and theatrics that Gabriel brought to the table with relish, dressing up in ever more ludicrous costumes (yes, he does the red dress and the fox’s head).

The band handles complex music very well, the lineup being Mike Belmonte on Bass, Paul Sheehan on Drums, Michael LaBueno on Keys, and Sal Locascio on Guitar. Particular props go to Sheehan who was explosive throughout, reminding one just what a dynamic drummer Phil Collins was back in the day, a fact sometimes overshadowed by his solo career and Disney soundtracks that followed. And Locascio beautifully handled Steve Hackett’s memorable and emotive solo in “Firth of Fifth,” (possibly my favorite guitar solo of all time) drawing appreciative applause from the small crowd.

I must admit, I never thought I would be witnessing a collection of musicians playing “The Return of the Giant Hogweed” live in 2022, but there you go.

Funny thing, tribute bands.

Set 1:

  • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  • I know what I like (in your wardrobe)
  • The Cinema Show
  • Games Without Frontiers *
  • In the Cage
  • The Carpet Crawlers
  • Dance on a Volcano
  • Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
  • Firth of Fifth

Set 2:

  • The Rhythm of the Heat *
  • The Return of the Giant Hogweed
  • Counting Out Time
  • The Fountain of Salmacis
  • Lilywhite Lilith
  • In Your Eyes *
  • Watcher of the Skies
  • Horizons
  • Solsbury Hill *
  • The Musical Box
  • Encore – The Knife

All songs originally by Genesis except * Peter Gabriel

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