Cover bands. Tribute bands. “Experiences.” Do not get me started! Have you never wanted to do something creative? Something that was truly yours? Do you see your job as, essentially, one of impersonation? The only passion that really comes across to the audience is the passion for perfection. At best, the performers disappear, or, as is often the case, wear costumes. But part of it is still an exercise in impersonation.
But I am a good one to talk. Let us not even, for the moment, mention the dozens of shows by a certain Genesis tribute band that I have witnessed. As an audience member I delight in the opportunity to see something I never had the opportunity to witness the first time around. And, taken on its merits, the performance is inspiring – sound, vision, composition. But here’s the sick part: I also have audio-only recordings of tribute bands! Why not just listen to the original? That’s the thing I’ve been listening to for twenty-five years!
But that’s just it. After all this time, I’m looking for something different, another level of genius. And when that raw material is in another’s hands, the possibility for “interpretation” or variation is dangerously prominent.
Well, The Watch is your cure for the common tribute band. Part of what motivated Genesis (a BIG part) was the desire/need to write music. That push to be creative, to do something new, was, no doubt, a big part of what moved the real Genesis on stage. The Musical Box has never had that. New music has always been explicitly excluded from their mandate. The Watch, on the other hand, has four studio albums of original material and a live album of that material. They are established original artists. They have also created two Genesis programs that perfectly imitate the dominating force of Foxtrot and Nursery Cryme. Those records have had a profound, though often overlooked, influence on music throughout Europe, North America and South America.
Will The Watch have that kind of impact? I don’t think so, but one never knows. The point is that they are making the music that they want to make, and while it is overwhelmingly influenced by Gabriel-era Genesis, it is also their own. Or is this what Genesis would have sounded like if that remarkable quintet had never disbanded? That’s a fanboy question for the ages.
For now, I count myself very lucky to have come across this band from Milan. Thirty-eight years ago, Genesis was looking for a break with a live show that they new was good, but it wasn’t getting through outside England. Italy was a home for Genesis when they were on the road. Now, it seems, Genesis has become a musical home for a few gifted musicians from Italy.
I have ordered The Watch’s two most recent titles from Amazon – Primitive and Planet Earth. I also want to thank Sommutante for having an amazing music blog. It’s in Portuguese, but it’s pretty easy to see he’s pretty hip. And I don’t recommend Google Translate. Just listen to the music.
Shining Bald Heads (5:55) – from Vacuum (2004):