This new interview with Steve Hackett was broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on the eve of his UK orchestral tour. The hour special includes tracks from several albums included in the retrospective box set released in October 2018.
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The seemingly irresistible force, that guitar legend Steve Hackett has generated in the last few years with his “Genesis Revisited” incarnation, swept into Manchester on a mild Wednesday night.
Bridgewater Hall, probably the best venue in Manchester, was a complete sell-out – as has been most of this short eight date tour, and it is testament to the Genesis legacy that all the performances are at the finest halls around – culminating with a show at the London Palladium. As Brucie would have said, “didn’t he do well”…
The buzz around this tour is the addition of a 41 piece orchestra – a lifelong dream of Steve’s – that has been realised following a one-off gig in Buffalo, New York in March 2017 which was conducted by tonight’s maverick Chef de Mission, Bradley Thachuk.
Having seen Hackett a few times before (although, to my chagrin, not at a Genesis Revisited gig) I was a little anxious that an orchestra of this size would possibly drown out the band.
My concerns evaporated within a few bars of opener ‘Dance On A Volcano’ as The Heart Of England Orchestra seamlessly meshed with the band to enhance what was already a fabulous opening – filling the hall and rounding out the sound in a way that I’m sure Steve would have approved of had he been sat where I was.
As usual, the band was stuffed with outstanding musicians at the top of their game – Roger King (keys), Rob Townsend (sax, flute, percussion), the brilliant drumming of Gary O’Toole (Gary, weren’t you sweating bullets in your suit and tie?), Nad Sylvan (vocals) and, at the risk of sounding like Viv Stanshall, very nice to see, from The Flower Kings, Kaipa and Karmakanic, Jonas Reingold (bass/rhythm guitar).
Although heavily slanted towards Hackett’s time with Genesis (no ‘Invisible Touch’ here..), there was a liberal sprinkling of Steve’s solo work – ‘Out Of The Body’ and ‘El Niño’ from ‘Wolflight’ and ‘The Night Siren’ respectively, a reverential version of ‘Serpentine Song’ with brother John on flute (dedicated to their father) and a superb version of ‘The Steppes’ from ‘Defector’.
And despite a wonderful version of ‘Firth Of Fifth (with THAT solo), pride of place must go to Set One closer ‘Shadow Of The Heirophant’, where special guest (Hackett’s sister-in-law) Amanda Lehmann handled the vocals superbly, and the band and orchestra coalesced with Reingold’s pounding bass to bring the track to a shuddering climax. A well-deserved standing ovation duly followed.
Set Two was very much dominated by Genesis classics – ‘In That Quiet Earth’, a superb ‘Afterglow’ and Steve’s own favourite from those heady days ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’.
The climax, almost inevitably, was the twenty minute plus blowout of ‘Supper’s Ready’ - which I know most Genesis fans hold up as the holy grail but it really doesn’t move me in mysterious ways. Sorry everyone – brilliantly played, but I found my attention wandering.
A deserved encore, ‘The Musical Box’ invoked another thunderous standing ovation and we were done.
I have to say that as a musical experience, this was probably as good as it gets. The band were just immense and the orchestra added so much in texture. It was all held together with an absolutely superb sound system that pitched the band at the front of things and, of course, Hackett’s consummate guitar – never flashy, always awe inspiring.
The good news is we get to do it all again next year with a complete run through of ‘Selling England By The Pound’, and the wonderful ‘Spectral Mornings’ which celebrates its fortieth anniversary.
Review by Alan Jones
Photos by David Randall
Setlist: Set 1: Dance On A Volcano 2. Out Of The Body 3. The Steppes 4. Firth Of Fifth 5. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight 6. Blood On The Rooftops 7. Shadow Of The Hierophant
Set 2: 8. In That Quiet Earth 9. Afterglow 10. Serpentine Song 11. El Niño 12. Supper’s Ready Encore: 13. The Musical Box
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