Gig review: STEVE HACKETT – Playhouse, Edinburgh – 25th September 2021

Forty-four years ago, in January 1977, Genesis rolled into Edinburgh for a two-night stint at the Playhouse on their ‘Wind & Wuthering’ UK tour. That tour took them across America and Europe and included four nights at the Palais des Sports in Paris. These shows were recorded for posterity and were released as the live album ‘Seconds Out’ which is still regarded as one of the best live albums of all time.

Fast forward to the present day and we have Mr Hackett and co in the Playhouse to recreate those nights back in ’77 with a live set featuring the whole of ‘Seconds Out’ and other choice tracks from Steve’s career. To say anticipation was high is an understatement.

Once we had passed all the required Covid checks prior to entry, we took our seats and as the lights went down the band took to the stage with little fuss and started things off with ‘Clocks’. The first part of the evening was to be a short set of Steve’s solo tracks including a couple of songs from his latest album ‘Surrender Of Silence’.

The two new tracks, ‘Held In The Shadows’ and the dark and discordant ‘The Devil’s Cathedral’ went down well with the crowd, but the highlight of the first set for me was ‘ Every Day’ which Steve introduced as an ‘old friend’. The set was rounded off with ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’ which built to a climactic wall of sound and brought the first set to a triumphant end.

After a short interval, the lights dimmed once again for what was the main event of the evening. ‘Squonk’ started off the ‘Seconds Out’ set and was greeted with a huge cheer. The band were on great form as always, with Nad Sylvian taking the lead on vocals in a very natty floral print shirt.

Steve took to the acoustic guitar for an excellent rendition of ‘Carpet Crawlers’ complete with the audience singing along, although this was slightly muffled as most had a face mask firmly in place to comply with regulations. The pace was then upped with a song I never thought I would hear live, ‘Robbery, Assault and Battery’. This rare gem had Nad acting out the role of the main character as he ran the gauntlet of the local constabulary before escaping by the rooftops, all good fun.

One song that instantly brings to mind the ‘Seconds Out’ album is ‘Afterglow’. The iconic white spotlight curtain lighting effect pictured on the album cover was used during the mid-section of the song and has become an instantly recognisable Genesis image. Tonight, that effect was recreated and was greeted with cheers and phone cameras in equal measure. I must admit that after 18 months without live music even I, as a jaded hack, felt a bit emotional as Nad belted out ‘…and I would search everywhere just to hear your call…’ as those white lights beamed.

Steve then stepped up to the plate to delver some stunning guitar work on ‘Firth Of Fifth’. This was the usual tour de force with Steve and the band in top form. ‘I know What I Like’ followed and this allowed the band to cut loose and for Rod Townsend to take lead on sax. Roger King then had time in the spotlight as he played the intro to ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’. Taking on Tony Banks keyboard parts is no small task, but Roger never faltered all evening.

After a quick blast through the latter half of ‘The Musical Box’ which went down a storm with the crowd, Steve and bassist Jonas Riengold settled themselves on stools for the epic ‘Supper’s Ready’. Always the highlight of a live set, tonight’s rendition didn’t disappoint. There was more muffled singing from the crowd as the band led us through the musical twists and turns of the Genesis classic. This song also highlighted the drumming talent of Craig Blundell, the latest addition to the band line up following the departure of Gary O’Toole from the drum stool.

‘The Cinema Show’ and ‘Aisle Of Plenty’ then rounded off the ‘Seconds Out’ set in fine style with more dexterous finger work from Roger King on keyboards. With that the band took their bows before a highly appreciative crowd and left the stage.

However, they were soon back for a couple of encores starting with ‘Dance On A Volcano’ before, following a short drum solo from Blundell, things were brought to a climactic end with a full on version of ‘Los Endos’.

Tonight had been my first live experience since covid hit the world, and what a way to ease myself back in! Steve and the band were in great form and the set list and performance were spot on. 44 years on Steve and ‘Seconds Out’ have never sounded better and those iconic white lights were just the icing on the cake.

Review and photos by Dave Wilson 

Album review (Surrender of Silence)

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