The first forty minutes saw Hackett reminding us he’s not just all about keeping the Genesis flame alive, he’s also still a contemporary recording artist of some significance
All photos by Mark Stimpson
‘Well, isn’t it lovely to be able to go out again? Our first tour in 18 months’, Steve Hackett gushes after the opening number, Clocks, on the first of three sold-out nights at one of London’s more iconic venues. It’s clear he and his band are delighted to be out on the road again, and this comes across in the music and their body language onstage. Everyone in the band, Jonas Reingold (Bass), Roger King (Keys), Craig Blundell (Drums) and Rob Townsend (Sax/flute), plus Nad Sylvan (vocals) is an accomplished musician, and they perform a blistering set with over two hours of great music
Hackett and band are touring to reprise the majestic ‘live’ album, 1977’s Seconds Out, which Hackett informs us, tongue-in-cheek, was released by ‘some band I played in back in the day’, and, on this tour, they’re even revisiting some of the smaller venues Genesis played on the original 1977 tour, like Carlisle and Scunthorpe. Seconds Out marked the last recordings Hackett played on while in Genesis, and it highlights not only a band who were probably at their performing peak at the time, but also the dividing line between the prog years of the early seventies and when the band went in a more commercial direction – so who better to take it out on the road and show the reformed Genesis, who somewhat ironically were kicking off the English leg of their delayed ‘Last Domino’ tour the same night in Birmingham, how their music once sounded?
The tour isn’t only about Seconds Out, though. The first forty minutes saw Hackett reminding us he’s not just all about keeping the Genesis flame alive, he’s also still a contemporary recording artist of some significance, and he performs two tracks from his recent Surrender Of Silence album, Held In The Shadows (which on the album is dedicated to wife Jo), and Devil’s Cathedral, the latter with an intensity of sax and keyboard intro that even Van der Graaf Generator would have struggled to match! Nad makes his only solo contribution in this set singing here. They also perform tracks from two of his earlier solo albums, a superb version of Every Day from Spectral Mornings, with some excellent harmony from all concerned, and a lengthy Shadow Of The Hierophant from Voyage Of The Acolyte, with Amanda Lehmann taking lead vocals – though sadly she was only onstage for fifteen minutes.
After a short break the band return to the stage, and we’re taken back to 1977 as they open the second set; the one, if we’re honest, we’re mostly here for, with Squonk. The album is performed in the same running order so, as it’s hard to believe anyone in the crowd didn’t know the album, we all knew what songs were coming next, and the anticipation was sheer delight. The Carpet Crawl, Robbery Assault And Battery and Afterglow all flowed into each other gloriously and, closing your eyes, you could almost think you were listening to the album. Few liberties were taken with any of the songs, each mostly as performed on the album, though I Know What I Like was extended by a Rob Townsend sax break towards the end. After gorgeous versions of The Lamb Lies Down and The Musical Box, Hackett sat down with an acoustic guitar and Nad Sylvan sang ‘Walking across the sitting room ..’ which meant the epic Supper’s Ready, twenty three minutes of a prog masterclass, and the applause which followed its conclusion was from an audience in ecstasy at a performance of a song most thought they’d never hear ‘live’ again. Nad’s ability to convey Gabriel’s words with meaning was a highlight of the show.
What could possibly follow this? The classic which is Cinema Show could and did, with King and Hackett fully extending themselves. The two encore numbers, the powerful Dance On A Volcano and Los Endos, got everyone up on their feet as the band rounded off what had been a scintillating evening of wonderful music performed by an artist who gets better with each tour, backed by a group of superlative musicians who interpret the words and music of Genesis more sympathetically than even the real band could do now.
We can but hope a ‘live’ CD of the tour is being considered as it will certainly stand very favourable comparison with its 1977 predecessor!