Gig review: STEVE HACKETT – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

The latest incarnation of Steve Hackett’s “Genesis Revisited” tour swept into Liverpool’s iconic, Eric Gill-inspired, Philharmonic Hall on an absolutely filthy November evening – not that it deterred a single one of the Hackett cognoscenti who filled the hall to its rafters.

Steve has, as the torchbearer of the Genesis legacy, been touring the world (to universal acclaim) with his exceptional band for a number of years now – with an amalgam of tracks from his substantial solo career in addition to a constantly changing setlist of Genesis classics.

This tour, rather like his previous tour with a full orchestra, is different insofar as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of his superb “Spectral Mornings” album, plus a complete run-through of Steve’s favourite Genesis album “Selling England By The Pound”.

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

The tried and trusted band of Roger King (keys), Rob Townsend (sax/flute/keys), Jonas Reingold (bass/guitar) and Nad Sylvan (vocals) have been joined by Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost*, Steven Wilson) on drums following Gary O’Toole’s recent move to pastures new.

And they are just fabulous – every one a crack musician and every one contributing immensely to a very special night’s music.

The show was split into two halves – kicking off with ‘Spectral’ and then onto ‘England’.

The ‘Spectral’ set was run through almost in its entirety with only ‘Lost Time In Cordoba’ and the rather atypical ‘Ballad Of The Decomposing Man’ jettisoned.

Opener ‘Every Day’ had the crowd hooked immediately – its pulsing riff and delicate three-part harmonies allied to Hackett’s searing guitar lines giving us the perfect start.

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

Three tracks from the latest album ‘At The Edge Of Light’ gave all members of the band an opportunity to shine, especially Rob Townsend whose sax work was a highpoint throughout.

Back to ‘Spectral’ with the D.H. Lawrence inspired ‘The Virgin And The Gypsy’ a lovely song beautifully sung by Craig Blundell (who knew?), the dreamy/nightmarish ‘Tigermoth’, a splendid rendition of the title track with Steve’s guitar wringing every drop out of the anthemic riff and a surprisingly faithful ‘The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere’.

And to top-off the first half, a full-on version of the First World War inspired ‘Clocks – The Angel Of Mons’ – replete with a monster Craig Blundell drum solo envisioning the heat of battle.

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

Genesis fans will all have their own idea of the band’s “best” album – but it is reasonably safe to assume that ‘Selling England’ would be in most fans’ top three – and, as mentioned before, is Steve Hackett’s own personal favourite.

The only problem with running through an album in its entirety is it’s very much “warts and all”, and, let’s face it, ‘Selling England’ has a passing resemblance to Oliver Cromwell.

Two tracks in particular – ‘The Battle Of Epping Forest’ and ‘More Fool Me’, to the best of my knowledge, have never been recorded live by either Genesis or Hackett – I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. Having said that, both were well received on the night – so maybe it’s just me.

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

The rest of it, however, is sublime. From the opening “Can you tell me where my country lies?” of ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’ to the reprised riff of ‘Aisle Of Plenty’ through the off-kilter ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ the staggering virtuosity of the solo in ‘Firth Of Fifth’ and the sheer progtastic genius of ‘The Cinema Show’ the magic seems never-ending.

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

But just when we thought that’s that, Steve introduces another song that was written and practised at the time but was omitted from the final cut – a sort-of “completist’s guide” to ‘Selling England”.

‘Deja Vu’ has been scrubbed-up by Hackett for this tour and is so good it’s likely to become a shoo-in for all future ventures – a great riff, great lyrics and another guitar solo to die for combine to make it one of the highlights of the evening.

And “Ambassador, you spoil us” – the irresistible ‘Dance On A Volcano’ elicits both a standing ovation and an almost tangible outpouring of emotion from both audience and band.

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

A ‘Los Endos’ encore with pieces of ‘Myopia’ and ‘Slogans’ and we were done.

Once again Steve Hackett and his remarkable fellow musicians had done us proud.

Had the audience not mostly comprised of “men of a certain age” there probably would not have been a dry eye in the house.

Just brilliant.

Review by Alan Jones
Photos by David Randall

Setlist – Part 1: Every Day, Under The Eye Of The Sun, Fallen Walls And Pedestals, Beasts In Our Time, The Virgin And The Gypsy, Tigermoth, Spectral Mornings, The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere, Clocks – The Angel Of Mons

Part 2: Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), Firth Of Fifth, More Fool Me, The Battle Of Epping Forest, After The Ordeal, The Cinema Show, Aisle Of Plenty, Deja Vu, Dance On A Volcano. Encore: Myopia, Los Endos, Slogans, Los Endos (Reprise)

STEVE HACKETT - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11 November 2019

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