Gig review: STEVE HACKETT – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 29 October 2013

Steve Hackett - Liverpool, 29 October 2013

Perhaps because he’s never been the archetypal flashy rock guitarist, and perhaps because he’s largely plied his solo career away from the spotlight, Steve Hackett’s almost become  the ‘forgotten man’ from the classic 1971 to 1977 Genesis line up.  Until now.

Like most, his 1996 reinterpretations album ‘Revisited’ passed me by, and it wasn’t until word of mouth of his Revisited II tour earlier this year that I sensed I may be missing something seriously good.  A delve into the Revisited II double album revealed that, yes indeed, there was hope that jaded ears might once again thrill to the Genesis prog rock classics that were the soundtrack of my late teens.

The success and reception of the project has, I think, taken Hackett by as much surprise as it has the audience.  The reaction has been such that the tour’s been extended, ‘sold out’ signs have appeared just about everywhere, and a 3CD/2DVD box set capturing the phenomena has just hit the shelves.

Steve Hackett - Liverpool, 29 October 2013

It’s a sad fact that most things in life are better in the memory than reality, and revisiting pastures old can be a disappointment or even a mistake, but with the echoes of a rejuvenated Andy Latimer Camel gig still resonating around in my cranium I had high hopes this would be another gig that would blow away 40 years of cobwebs.

And while it didn’t quite, in the words of Ian Anderson, ‘spin me back down the years and the days of my youth’ it was a supremely masterful performance that breathed fresh life into modern masterpieces.

Impossible to fault, it is little wonder that the show has garnered superlatives wherever it has played.  And ‘show’ is the appropriate word – the excellent use of animated backdrops subtlety complementing the material in a manner that wouldn’t be out of place in the West End.  Doubly fitting it should be performed in the theatres and halls that rock legends once trod and not in the soulless arenas of the modern era.

Steve Hackett - Liverpool, 29 October 2013

For the project, Hackett has gathered around him a bunch of marvellous players for whom it appears to be a night on night adrenaline rush – his long term keyboard accomplice Roger King, flamboyant Agents Of Mercy vocalist Nad Sylvan who throws himself into the role with theatrical intensity and whose vocal style is eerily well suited to the role, bassist / guitarist and human dynamo Lee Pomeroy who looked like all his Christmases had arrived at once, Rob Townsend whose wonderfully proggy soprano sax work was one of the evening’s highlights, and the irrepressible Gary O’Toole on drums and occasional vocals (particularly fine on Blood On The Rooftops).

Steve Hackett - Liverpool, 29 October 2013

Fans will argue for hours about the set list, but with all Hackett-era Genesis albums represented none can complain about the breadth and quality of the two and a half hour set.

For most, the chance to hear ‘Supper’s Ready’ once again in all its eccentric English splendour will have been enough to send them home in quiet contentment.  Each will no doubt have their personal highlights from the delicate intricacies of ‘Horizons’, the mesmerising sax / guitar interplay on ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ and ‘Firth Of Fifth’, to the sheer power of ‘Fly On A Windshield / Broadway Melody 1974′ and the bludgeoning refrains of ‘Squonk’ appended to the ‘Los Endos’ encore.  Throw in the brooding menace of ‘Watcher Of The Skies’ and the unbridled beauty of ‘The Lamia’, and what more could you want?

It was, frankly, a breathtaking trip and one that will have made a certain generation of gentlemen very happy.  In doing so Steve Hackett has almost unwittingly become the key holder of Pandora’s Box.  And the pressure for him to reveal its treasures on a regular basis is likely to be a weight he’s going to have to carry.  He appeared unperturbed at the prospect.  Magnificent.

Steve Hackett - Liverpool, 29 October 2013

1. Dance on a Volcano/  2. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight/  3. Fly On A Windshield/
4.  Broadway Melody of 1974/  5. The Carpet Crawlers/  6.  The Return of the Giant Hogweed/  7.  The Musical Box/  8.  Horizons/  9.  Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers… /  10.  …In That Quiet Earth/  11.  Afterglow/  12.  I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)/  13.  Firth of Fifth/  14.  The Fountain of Salmacis/  15.  Supper’s Ready
Encore:  16.  Watcher Of The Skies/  17.  Los Endos (incl. Squonk)

Review by Pete Whalley
Photos and Gallery by David Randall

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