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Steve Hackett – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester: Live Review

Date: 26th November 2019

The next chapter of the Genesis Revisited series included a first set of tunes from Steve Hackett’s solo albums Spectral Mornings, recorded 40 years ago, and his current album At The Edge of Light. It was followed by the complete Selling England By The Pound and performed to a packed house at the Bridgewater Hall.

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Every Day was a lively, pacy opening with super harmonies and then followed by the mystical Egyptian tones of Under The Eye Of The Sun. Steve Hackett introduced Fallen Walls And Pedestals as “dark and depressing but romantic“, however, you could not be failed to be impressed by the versatility of Rob Townsend on saxophones, flute and keyboards.

Steve Hackett’s singing prowess was revealed during Beasts InOur Time with its regular shifting pace and becoming as heavy metal as Steve Hackett’s current ensemble get. Followed by the calmer waters of The Virgin And The Gypsy, both provided evidence that this side of his performing was very much understated during his time with Genesis. The latter he informed us was inspired by a Victorian book of flowers enhanced by a few bottles of wine.

Tigermoth, our host informed us, was borne from the late Air Chief Marshall Dowding’s belief that we are visited by the spirits of fallen pilots through spiritualist mediums. This eerie instrumental reflected the theme of Spectral Mornings which Steve Hackett related was to express the presence of spirits roaming free. This theme was continued in the brighter acoustic Spectral Mornings. Brother John Hackett, who had a major contribution in the original recording joined him here on flute. He played a super wind duet with Rob on piccolo, or ‘stick’ as Steve referred to it!

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The well-travelled guitarist enjoys composing songs inspired by his travels so the oriental notes of The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere enthralled us before as many time signatures as you can think of were thrown at us when segued by surround sound ticking clocks for the final number of the set Clocks: The Angel Of Mons. This song ended with Craig Blundell’s magnificent drum solo played with soft cymbals and enthralling varying pace and rhythm, which even drew deserved applause from the band.

Nad Sylvan strode on sporting red frockcoat and top hat to begin an excellent performance with his own vocal nuances to all our Selling England By The Pound favourites, successfully manipulating the wordsmithery of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight and Battle Of Epping Forest. His deeper tones gave I Know What I Like a much rockier feel as did the jazzy sax solo and funky keyboard of Roger King (no relation!). The album, presented in album order in its entirety, does not need to acquire any credibility from the approval of a late Beatle hero and Firth Of Fifth highlighted that with an almost note for note accurate rendition of the original album version on keyboard.

Steve Hackett had already spooked us with Spectral Mornings but his haunting guitar solo never fails to please. By now Nad had de-frocked himself and as through all the evening, was decked out in a pair of trousers definitely not purchased from M&S. In fact, they were more S&M than M&S!!! More Fool Me was perhaps back in the mid ’70s a sign of song style of the future for later Genesis albums. Nad again outstanding.

The instrumental After The Ordeal in its modern-day form provided us with complex sounds including many variations in stark contrast to the simplicity of More Fool Me.

During the evening, bassist, Jonas Reingold, on double-necked guitar reminded me of Mike Rutherford at my first live Genesis experience on the original Selling England tour whilst in The Cinema Show, all band members revealed their top quality musicianship by generating a fabulous crescendo, which was a clear showstopper, before Nad returned in frock coat to complete the Selling England by the Pound album with the reprise of Moonlit Knight in Aisle Of Plenty.

There was a surprise in store with Deja Vu , which Mr Hackett claimed was a sad omission from the album and I think everyone agreed. Yet he even had one more ‘trick’ up his sleeve as the set was completed with a Revisited tour favourite, Dance on a Volcano, but boys you don’t need to plea ‘better start doing it right’ because you always do.

In the encore another A Trick Of The Tail favourite, Los Endos completed a memorable Revisited evening. We just have to wait for the obligatory live concert CD set now and the next excerpt in the Revisited anthology which was announced as focussing on Seconds Out. So seconds out round …… not really sure what round we’re up to but it will be a knockout!!

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Steve Hackett online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Live photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.

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