1. The Musical Box: Awesome
2. Atlantic City: Horrifying
but that would be a bit of a bummer.
I set out saturday morning. I have to say, my last minute car rental plan was a real lifesaver, because if I had had to deal with a clutch while waiting to pay the 38904598 tolls between home and my hotel, I would have been crying. So kudos to my instincts on that one. Apart from the tolls the drive up was sunny and beautiful. I got a little lost looking for Absecon, where my hotel was located but finally about an hour after my goal arrival time was lying on a bed in a hotel room going "bluh". I gave a quick call to Tara, a kind soul from Philly who agreed to find me for pre-show dinner. Being as how I had been too excited to eat all day, I stopped at a Denny's on the way down rt. 30.
As I drove down into AC proper, I noticed what everyone had told me with varying degrees of empathy; the run down neighborhoods, the rough patches. I noticed all the people walking to work in their casino uniforms. Then I hit it; the wall of cement so many stories high that's made up by the Trumps and Bally's and Harrah's. I have no idea what it looks like from the beach, but from the land side it looks a little like a futuristic nightmare. The disparity was on my mind as I pulled the Sentra underneath the Tropicana and got ready to set foot in my first casino. To make a long story short, it was much worse than I had even expected. Glassy-eyed stares and unsmiling faces met me everywhere I turned. Hey guys, isn't this supposed to be fun? No one looked like they were having fun. I marveled at the irony that later on in the evening I'd be hearing "The Grand Parade of LIfeless Packaging".
Now to be fair, once I got downstairs I did see some people having fun. They were kids, and they were headed outside of the casino to the beach. From the restaurant I could see the dunes, but not the water. It did feel a little like home as I looked out into the sunlight. As I waited outside the restaurant for people who looked like Genesis fans (this is, I now know, impossible to pin down) to show up, I almost walked up to some of the security guards and asked, "do you like it here?" but thought better of it.
But then my fun began. Tara and Chris, both from Philly arrived and there were warm welcomes all around. They knew me from my homemade Lamb shirt; the one from Cafepress was total crap and the wrong size. We settled in to eat and chat. I felt much more at ease right away. Despite my many adventures in meeting people from random online fan associations, I still get a little worried. We chatted about trading and shows, and even stuff other than music. Apparently I am not the only one whose friends don't necessarily "get it". :) We were almost done eating when Kevin from Long Island found us. I don't often meet people with an authentic accent. Mom, you would have been dying. :) I stayed afloat during some sports talk and tried not to be a complete dork. Finally, it was time for the show. Tara drove us down the strip in her convertible, a very nice car indeed, and we landed at the Taj Mahal and hit the ground running. Well, at least I was running because they had seen the show before and didn't mind if they missed a minute or two. They were a few bars into the opening when I got to my seat panting away.
And there it was. The Lamb show, as I have never seen it, alive. With sound. Not blurry. Moving. My seat was pretty terrible due to the late date at which I bought my ticket, and frankly if I could change one thing about the whole trip it's that I'd have bought one of the tickets people were offering on the boards for close seats. If I had to guess at the size of the theater, I'd say it probably held about as many people as the 9:30 club. Of course, this kind of show is seated because it's not really a dancing situation. I took stock of what I could see: I could see alot of what Martin, the percussionist (faux Phil) was doing towards the back of his kit. I could see none of what Eric (keyboards, faux Tony) was doing aside from moving his head around. I could see Francois and Sebastien (faux Steve and Mike, respectively) relatively well and of course, Denis as Peter was jumping around all over. I had to crane my neck to see him lying down playing the flute during Cuckoo Cocoon.
There are so many notable highlights I don't even know where to begin. The slides!! I'm so overjoyed I got to see the slides. There were a few I couldn't make out, most notably during Carpet Crawlers, but other than that, what a treat. I could have watched the slides the whole time and totally missed the band. (Kevin noted he watched Martin the whole time - and if I could have seen him better I could have done the same thing.) It left me, of course, with nothing but questions: Who is that when he sings "I need someone to believe in, someone to trust"? Why is the supernatural anaesthetist a guy on a pogo stick, of all things? I wish I could have burned them into my memory for future contemplation. Failing that, here's hoping they do another set of Lamb shows someday.
I had heard how incredible Denis' voice is, and how much like Peter's it is. It was all true. His voice, particularly during the stories in the intervals, was uncannily like Gabriel's. I give the man kudos - not only for his singing, and for the intense energy he puts into his performance, but also for wearing bodysuits on stage. Hello! I heard from those that had closer seats that little was left to the imagination. Also of note: I didn't know that during In the Rapids they put a doppelganger on stage. Musically, the show was incredibly tight. I hadn't really read too many detailed reviews, but from my perspective there were few mistakes and even in the most complicated and rocking parts everything was in place. Sebastien's bass pedals were awesome - made more awesome by the fact that in the back we were on some kind of raised flooring, and the whole thing was vibrating. I am not sure honestly if the bass pedals are the same equipment Mike used in '75 but from what I understand TMB are really into authenticity on that score. So I was often wondering... is this just what it sounded/felt like then?
It all seemed to happen so fast, and suddenly it was starting, and that was the point at which my elation was tinged with depression, beacuse I knew it was almost over. Sigh. Two encore songs: Watcher of the Skies and The Musical Box (because duh, TMB). Chris said he had heard them warming up once upon a time with Hogweed and I gotta admit I'd sure give alot to see that, but I was happy. The batwings, the cape, everything. It ruled. I am so grateful to these guys for doing this. And doing it so goddamn well. I've already made a long post about The Lamb, and how no one filmed it, and yadda yadda. So this is just extremely special.
The crowd was really enthusiastic. I have since seen on the TMB mailing list that several devotees found the crowd to be too rowdy, but I didn't notice. It could have been the rapture I was in, or just that I'm used to people yelling out in a quiet moment. The guy right in front of me looked about my dad's age, and dressed about like my dad, and was playing the air drums with such enthusiasm I almost got distracted by him. It was cute. Another fabulous crowd moment: afterwards, masses of fans were milling about in the bar that sits right outside the theater. In one moment, everyone was swept up into singing a line from "I know what I like" from SEBTP, and I turned to my compatriots and smiled, saying "That's not going to happen to me again anytime soon." It was so awesome. MY PEOPLE!!!
So, 30 years on, this has been the story of how I got to see a concert that could have died out with very few traces of evidence.
So anyone feel like flying to Montreal with me in November?