This 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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Inside Out [Release date: 25.10.19]
As the keeper of the flame of the Genesis legacy, Steve Hackett has been touring his ‘Genesis Revisited’ shows around the world to deservedly rapturous receptions for a few years now.
His last tour broke with tradition somewhat with the inclusion of the 41-piece Heart Of England Philharmonic Orchestra – a vision of Steve’s realised, and to stunning effect.
That tour was relatively short, but featured the band at all the best venues around and what we have here is a recording of the gig at London’s Royal Festival Hall.
I witnessed (and I use the word ‘witnessed’ advisedly) the show at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall two days earlier, which was quite simply awe inspiring, and seeing as the RFH show was exactly the same in both brilliance and running order, please follow the link below to my review.
This release comprises two CDs and a Bluray – but as we only received a link to mp3 files and the video content via a website – I cannot give an opinion on either the sound or visual quality of the official release, the quality of the packaging or the “extras” on the Bluray such as videos of three tracks from “At The Edge Of Light” and 40-odd minutes of backstage footage – none of which were included in the website release.
However, judging by previous releases of Hackett’s live work, both Genesis revisited and solo releases – I expect that the quality will be nothing short of superb.
Watching the visual recording of the concert was, quite literally, an eye-opener – with a myriad of camera angles and recording mics everywhere, you see and hear so much that you missed on the night.
As an example, the orchestra was much more prominent than I remember – I felt at the time that the orchestration rounded the sound out, but here sounds much more integral to the music – especially so on ‘Serpentine Song’ where it made a lovely song even lovelier and ‘El Nino’s percussive tropes even more percussive. It was also good to see multiple visual shots of the orchestra as, live, they were rather in the shadows at the rear of the stage.
What comes across more than anything else though, is the sheer professionalism of every musician on the stage – Gary O’Toole’s drumming was absolutely magnificent, Roger King’s keyboards (especially the intro to ‘Firth Of Fifth) were thrilling throughout, Jonas Reingold’s bass and guitar work were rock steady and Rob Townsend’s flute and sax (check out the intro to ‘The Steppes’) were just electrifying.
And let’s not forget the significant vocals of Nad Sylvan – his amalgam of Gabriel/Collins are a central pillar in this whole construction and he plays his part with understated distinction.
So what about Hackett himself?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musician so immersed in what he’s doing – after all, this was his baby, his project and it stood or fell by his performance.
And what a performance. He makes light of music of staggering complexity with a smile on his face – no grimaces, playing with his teeth or amp-wrecking here – just jaw dropping fretwork from beginning to end and concentration levels that must be off the scale.
So much so, that with the final note of encore ‘The Musical Box’ Steve staggered backwards to sit down next to his stage amp, initiating a little concern. He was fine – I just think he had given everything he had and there was nothing left.
Could it have gone any better? Such is Hackett’s modesty he’d probably say yes, “could have improved this, could have changed that” – but for those of us privileged to watch – a resounding “NO!”.
A totally immersive experience and an object lesson in consummate musicianship from all concerned. *****
Review by Alan Jones
Gig review (Manchester, October 2018)
Album review (At The Edge Of Light)
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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