Live Reviews

Steve Hackett – The Apollo, Manchester: Live Review

Steve Hackett and his Seconds Out + More tour stops off at Manchester Apollo.

steve hackett

Steve Hackett, Manchester Apollo, 24th September 2021

While his old band were across town for the first of two dates at Manchester’s AO Arena, the man constantly referred to as the ‘ex-Genesis- guitarist’ offered an alternative to wallet melting ticket prices and offers to follow you, follow me (or be delayed by technical/power issues).

The Hackett option is the gift that keeps on giving. Steve’s Hackett Genesis Revisited release from 2012 has proved to have legs and then some. And Hackett has been generous enough to defer the continued solo offerings of quality (the current Surrender Of Silence a prime example) to pleasing his audience with the evolution of the Genesis content of his live shows.

The current set is based around the classic 1977 live album Seconds Out – his own final parting gift to the band before he flew solo. Personally, I have a strong attachment to the album, it being my gateway drug to Genesis; one to which fellow ATB Editor Dom Walsh will attest having been witness regular purchases of yet another variation of Seconds Out on our team record shop trips – “but this is the Canadian ‘deux disques’ version…

The current tour presents an evening split into two sets. A appetising amuse bouche of a first half with Clocks as an opening piece working well from its more usual occurrence at he end of the set. One where the curtain is raised with a bang. A couple of numbers from the new Surrender Of Silence record come sandwiched between Hackett faves. EveryDay sees the five of the band on a delicious harmony part and (at least those not sat at keys/drums) getting down Status Quo style (ish) and an epic Shadow Of The Hierophant – a nice touch in using a song from the solo album he made while he pondered his future in Genesis and one brought to the Genesis table – the missing link beween Genesis Hackett and solo Hackett. Th elatter an audio visual extravaganza going from a simple set of notes to full blown, smoke-filled and swirling light climax with Amanda Lehmann making one of a handful of appearances on the tour (we loved her Innocence And Illusion album) to add the initial vocal part.

For the main course, the full presentation of Seconds Out sees Hackett back in his long lost role of lead guitarist in a band. Roger King has marshalled a well drilled outfit, all playing an active part for the cameras as we’re filming tonight. He keeps a regular eye on them but more often than not it’s a cheeky face or knowing wink/smile. Rob Townsend maintains a multitasking role on various instrument including bass pedals, and for those of us who love the feeling of the depth charge in the ribcage, I’m sure tonight there was even a moment when both he and Jonas Reingold were setting off those pedals in unison. Jonas himself has the demanding challenge of bass, bass pedals, guitar and double neck, the latter sounding most ominous in a Chris Squire lead bass style.

For Seconds Out, Nad Sylvan takes up the demands of the vocal parts managing the Gabriel and Collins eras with the same grace he’s done for several years and made the songs. Both Afterglow and I Know What I Like seem to be taken at a sprightlier tempo than as of late and the latter has an extended improv section where Hackett gives us a reminder of his passion for the blues. The Cinema Show and Robbery, Assault And Battery faithful to the studio recorded versions, the tricky keyboard runs handled with ease by Mr King.

Visually, the famous landing lights make an appearance for Afterglow and the end of Los Endos. Indeed as Afterglow fades, there’s a sight of pink lights from the floor at the back of the stage; perhaps Steve and his lighting designers have kept their finger on how the old band used to light the number… Seconds Out – you simply can’t fault it or fault Hackett and his band in their delivery. Carpet Crawlers in particular is a highlight. A low key number where Hackett’s embellishments are sublime and the finesse of Craig Blundell’s drums and percussion shows how he’s done his homework on the material. And fas for Hackett himself, maybe it was the FOH mix, but this tour has seen his guitar parts in Robbery Assault & Battery and Squonk show how aggressive his contribution to those songs actually was.

He’s told PROG magazine that he doesn’t believe in retirement so with a whole raft of dates (including (finally) a return to Cropredy in 2022 when the ATB team will be out in force, it begs the question of what comes next?

Many have expressed a desire for a solo material tour. Granted it has been a while since we had a Hackett show void of any Genesis material – remember the days when the occasional appearance of a bit of Genesis music was a treat? A difficult choice for a musician who possesses an embarassment of riches.

Steve Hackett online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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