Well, three years have passed since I last saw Steve live in Leicester, it was nice to return to this venue to witness a slightly adjusted live band. Earlier in this year I witnessed Pink Floyd tribute act, Brit Floyd. It was a faithful sonic recreation of the best of Pink Floyd, with heavy focus on the Wall to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary. Moving on from that and back to the Hackett show.
Tickets for the Genesis Revisited – Spectral Mornings / Selling England anniversary tour went on sale back in November of 2018. Tonights show at Leicester was practically sold out early on with only a handful of tickets left. It was a mixed crowd of dedicated fans, advanced Genesisphiles, and the odd person coming out of curiosity (or perhaps a touch of tagging along for fun).
Whilst the tour started in Aylesbury on the 2nd of November, the Leicester show took place on Friday the 8th of November, so the band had performed plenty of shows to be warmed up and in the groove. Time for my first Steve show on this autumn tour. Unfortunate mis-timing meant it was a nightmare (not an air-conditioned nightmare though) upon arrival. Cue a mad series of stacked cars edging to get parked near this prestigious venue and some confusion over poorly worded signs about who could park where. Once inside the venue we picked up our tickets and we made our way to our seats in row M.
It was nice to go up to the back of the hall and have a moments chat with the sound engineer Ben Fenner, a quick catch up over as Ben is always busy, then it was all the way down the steps to my seat in row M.
Row M gives a commanding view of the stage, you’re far enough back to get the best from the sound and lighting design (the stage at De Montfort Hall, is quite high for those in the first few rows). We noticed Steve’s brother John and his wife in the crowd, they seemed to be settling in for the show. At 7:44pm the stage lights were dimmed and at 7:45pm Steve came out on stage to an enthusiastic applause, Everyday had started and the audience were taken back in time. When show opener Everyday was over Steve welcomed everyone to the show.
Next up were three songs from the latest album At The Edge Of Light. Of the three selections that Steve had chosen it was Beasts in our time that stood out, it sounded to our ears better than the album version. There are moments of almost heavy metal riffing that in the hall shook the crowd. You could tell it was well received by the transformation of rather polite applause before the song to an enthusiastic applause at the end of the song.
The journey back to Spectral Mornings began with a performance of The Virgin and the Gypsy meaning a guitar change for Steve with his trusty guitar tech Richard handing Steve a beautiful 12 string Zemaitis. Craig Blundell came out from behind the drum kit, playing a shaker and singing backing vocals. The hemisphere glitter balls on stage were put to good use with Chris Curran’s choice of white lights reflecting off of them. After this calming moment, the set moved to the unsettling and tension filled Tigermoth. Steve warned the crowd that it would be an instrumental version only, although he went on to explain the inspiration for the song. It came to him after reading the memoirs Lord Hugh Dowding, the Air Chief Marshall during the battle of Britain, owing to close proximity of Armistice Day this performance heralded genuine sentiment.
The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere, was as beautiful as ever! I first heard it being performed on the 2005 Acoustic Trio tour. Back then Steve’s brother had performed it, but with John watching amongst the crowd it turned to Steve’s long stating multitalented man of all things blown, Rob Townsend to bring shade and light with a beautiful performance on the flute. The song reminding that Steve’s catalogue is certainly eclectic at times.
Clocks (The Angel of Mons), now involves a lot of the band adding layers to the ticking and chimes of the various clocks, one person to note is again Rob Townsend who was certainly busy on his midi trigger pad. I wonder if in rehearsals every time Rob thinks of sitting down everyone else starts suggesting things to do to fill his time, he must be exhausted after each set.
Thankfully the guitar and bass pedals behaved, unlike in Essen earlier in the year where power gremlins struck the stage. The song is just as menacing and tonights drum solo in the middle was a treat. A little bit of information for the casual reader, Craig Blundell had lessons with Steve’s former drummer John Shearer, perhaps this belies a mere hint of how it felt John was channeling through Craig’s playing, leading on the sounds of rampaging elephant-like qualities that have remained throughout the drum solo. Craig massaged every part of the kit, somewhat wryly in retort to suggestions that it is all for show, every cymbal was toyed with. It gave Steve a chance to sit back and marvel at Craig’s playing, although after a while had passed it was also exciting to just witness that moment when Craig signalled to Jonas on the bass when to come back in and finish the song. A stunning drum solo, and truly engaging.
Clocks signalled the end of the first half of the show and bring to a close the celebrations of Spectral Mornings.
Upon returning to the start of the second half, the emergence of the Genesis part of the show celebrating Selling England By The Pound. Beginning, as does the album with Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, arguably Steve’s most intriguing repeated guitar riff in Genesis. A song of delicate building to loud belted passages with long cool down periods punctuated by the riff Steve plays, tapping was in abundance for those seeking a demonstration of such skills and techniques.
Nad Sylvan is not Peter Gabriel nor is he Phil Collins, this seems to confuse some people. What I can say is that Nad gives 100% each night and Dancing with the Moonlit Knight is a vocally demanding song very powerful stuff to deliver night after night. It cannot be easy following in the footsteps of Peter and Phil, Nad tries to add his own element but in a beneficial way to the music, his costumes add to his flamboyant but tasteful style. I champion the courage it takes to get onto the stage and perform these well known songs to an audience who may have witnessed, them being performed in the 1970’s.
I Know What I Like, is a personal favourite and crowd pleaser, although Steve has played it sporadically in his solo career. Tonights version was a treat, it was avant-garde and that was a bold move. Comparatively the version that Steve performed in 1979 on the Spectral Mornings tour was a bit more restrained, tonights version allowed the band to loosen the stiffness of performing the music of Genesis. Did anyone notice a brief motif from The Sailors Hornpipe during the free form section? Some purists may moan, some may say Steve could have inserted another song into the space taken by the loose jazz soloing, but it felt refreshing and not indulgent.
Roger King sits under white and blue spotlights as he begins to play the opening bars to Firth of Fifth. Unlike the more free-wheeling I Know What I Like, this was pretty true to the original, Steve’s solo gave everyone a nostalgia trip and worked its magic. Arguably note perfect performance from everyone. Craig remained reserved adding pushes as required, much more emulation of Phil’s playing live, rather than a studio take. As the song came to a close the lights returned home to allow Roger to gently rock it to the logical conclusion, upon where the crowd vaulted to a standing ovation that lasted, and truly deserved.
Moving logically to the next song on the album, More Fool Me and through to The Battle of Epping Forest, another personal and fan favourite. Historically Genesis only performed it on one tour (Selling England 1973/74). When witnessing Nad and the band tackle it, it’s easy to understand why what with such a lyrically heavy song. Nad faces the herculean challenge of singing the most wordy song in the entire Genesis catalogue, with characters and themes changing rapidly. Therefore kudos goes to Nad for even being brave enough to tackle this tale of two east end gangs fighting for protection rights in epping forest. Just imagining a young Peter Gabriel trying to tackle this night after night on the Selling England tour, with a pair of tights over his head makes you work up a sweat.
After the Ordeal slowed the set down again followed by another the classic from the higher end of the Genesis catalogue, The Cinema Show. The cinema show has everything within it from various levels of shades of light and dark, through to the part that was made for any drummer’s show reel. This gave the audience another chance to join in clapping along just as they had done so through various bits of Firth of Fifth. Steve and Rob Townsend seem to know how to get the audience to participate and good fun it is too. Craig was given a perfect canvass in which to paint his colours in the form of his style of drumming. Again no comparisons are needed both Phil Collins and in recent years Gary O’Toole had their interpretations and tonight its was Craigs turn.
Deja Vu, a song without a home at first. When Steve was recording the first Genesis Revisited album at some point in 1995, he remembered a song that Peter Gabriel and himself had tried to complete. This song never made it through to the Selling England By The Pound album, but it was not forgotten. Finished by Steve and released on the 1996 Genesis Revisited album, tonight it was brought to the stage for Nad Sylvan to perform. A different interpretation from the original which featured Paul Carrack singing it, Nad Sylvan treated it with respect whilst adding his own style to this rare song. Despite a standing ovation at the end of Dance On A Volcano which was menacing as ever, a confident audience member cries out for Supper’s Ready. Sadly his courageous request would have meant a long show for the band. Thankfully a more reasonable number (in length) was brought out and performed, Los Endos.
Los Endos is featured as the encore and it was nice to hear Slogans is placed so well in this version, the audience had their chance to join in during the breakdown the song where it is normally the drummer and keyboardist keeping things going. Tonight it was also Rob Townsend keeping things moving with his wind instrument and then he had an enthusiastic audience clapping in time to Craig’s beat. So that’s a nod to the fans who say Steve ought to do more solo numbers (we’re talking about Slogans, not Los Endos). After a great night the mixed crowd of fans seemed thoroughly pleased, as evident by their standing ovations throughout and at the finale.
All too soon the show was over and it was time to head home. Appreciation has to be given to the time that the band have rehearsed this material, in the case of Roger King taking such extra miles to achieve as close as possible to the original or original keyboard samples/sounds that Tony Banks used. Whilst he might have edited them to suit the versions of the songs in 2019, Cinema Show with its Arp pro soloist synth sounds from the 1976 Trick of the tail tour is an exceptionally nice touch.
Under the Eye of the Sun
Fallen Walls and Pedestals
Beasts in Our Time
The Virgin and the Gypsy
The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
Clocks – The Angel of Mons (includes Craig Blundell’s drum solo)
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
Dance on a Volcano
Myopia / Los Endos / Slogans / Los Endos (Reprise)
Steve Hackett: Vocals, Guitars, Vocals
Roger King: Keyboards
Craig Blundell: Drums, Percussion, backing vocals
Rob Townsend: Saxes, flutes, Midi trigger pad, Midi keyboard, backing vocals
Jonas Reingold: Bass, 12-string guitar (variax), backing vocals
Nad Sylvan: Vocals, Tambourine
Thank you to both Steve and Jo, sorry we missed our meeting… carpark problems! thank you to Ben Fenner for the catch up and it was wonderful sitting next to John Hackett and his wife Katrin, a nice catch up ensued before the show began.
For more information about Steve Hackett click on the link – OFFICIAL HACKETTSONGS WEBSITE