Gig Review: STEVE HACKETT – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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.

Steve Hackett is a Featured Artist at Get Ready to ROCK! RadioMore…

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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).

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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’.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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.

Can’t wait.

Review by Alan Jones
Photos by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018

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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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.

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