Musical Conversations is about music, preferably original and really more often than not, live rather than recorded. There is the occasion where something falls through and between the lines, and that’s when a tribute band performs live. There are a lot of tribute bands, some people consider some touring bands to be tributes to their former selves.
However, when a bunch of fans get together and want to honor a band by playing their music, it truly is out of respect, and not of riding the coat tails. Over the past few years I’ve seen an increase in the number of tribute bands performing. This trend has waves, they’re popular and then less so, and back and forth in cycles that are like every five years it starts to switch, with the distance between the swell and the trough being ten years apart or so. This is a totally unscientific observation on my part, and I may be wrong, yet it is what I’ve experienced.
Sometimes these tribute bands surprise me. Abacab is one of them. Doing the music of Genesis is a tall order, especially when you don’t just focus on that which is usually disparagingly referred to as “The Phil Collins Controlled Years,” and go deep into the “Peter Gabriel Era.” Which is exactly what Abacab does, they’re all eras, plus solo stuff from all members, though I don’t think I’ve heard a Steve Hackett solo song… yet. I am ever so grateful that I have the opportunity, dare I say privilege, of being able to directly ask, and get a quick and honest answer, which was that they don’t right now and yet would like to add “Shadow of the Hierophant” at some point.
Abacab’s performance has not ever let me down and every time has surprised me. Their first local show, that I saw and I believe was their first local one, featured a complete running through of the live album, “Seconds Out.” That’s some tough music! Realize this is when Peter Gabriel had left and the band felt as though they had something to prove, that they could do it live without him, and sought to perform the complex pieces to perfection. And Abacab did it too. Another time I’d seen them, they did the “Trick of A Tail” album. This performance featured a starting of solo member material, then the medley from the live album, “Three Sides Live” of “In The Cage-Cinema Show-Slippermen” and then into “Afterglow.” After a break, they came back and did what they call “Highlights from Duke,” excerpts from the Duke album.
What really gets me is that these guys perform this music to perfection. Playing this music is tough, though that’s why I especially like what is usually referred to as “progressive rock,” it is a challenge all the way around! I happen to also like that a number of the members are also in another tribute band, one that was originally called “Interstellar Overdrive,” though now is named “Pinkest Floyd.” My personal preference of the original name aside, it doesn’t matter what you call them as they’re astounding musicians that not only play the music with spot on perfection, it astounds me that they’re also able to put their own voice into it, their own spin, their own feeling. That is what makes a great tribute band, one that can play the music you love and yet still make it their own.