Steve Hackett – Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights: Album Review

Genesis Revisited continues as Steve Hackett raises his bat to celebrate an unbeaten half century for the seminal Foxtrot album.

Release Date: 15th September 2023

Label: Inside Out Music

Format: digital / CD+Bluray / DVD / Vinyl

A souvenir release of the show we reported from in Manchester and Liverpool, on a very extensive tour – just like the old days when a UK tour wasn’t just a handful of arenas but a trek around the theatres of the provinces. Possibly, someone will no doubt confirm, the most extensive UK jaunt Steve Hackett has done in his solo career. Back to the days of the early Seventies indeed when he was a member of Genesis, doing the legwork up and down the nation with a new progressive rock album to promote. Who’d have thought…?

Having accrued a selection of live releases from London to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, the choice of location for the current set is Brighton. Not known as a place as a home for classic live albums, here’s a chance for the fashionable seaside location to make its mark in the annals of rock history.

By now, the MO is well and truly rehearsed – the usual crack Hackett band that comprises Townsend, King, Blundell, Sylvan and Reingold, plus Amanda Lehmann making a welcome appearance, accompany the boss with much aplomb, skill and having seen the show (and watched the DVD/Bluray) no shortage of humour and ‘knowing’ looks.

The CD version rather cleverly keeps Foxtrot on one disc; if you want the authentic experience, then refer to the DVD/Bluray for full uninterrupted version of the show. With the majority of the Foxtrot tracks featuring in one or another incarnation of Genesis Revisited, the muscle memory serves them well with key pieces – Watcher Of The Skies and Supper’s Ready in particular – performed consistently well and after being around for fifty years, greeted as old and familiar friends despite being in storage for decades. One Foxtrot track that came very late to the party is Can Utility And The Coastliners which receives the full majestic organ and mellotron effect and delicious ringing opening. Nad Sylvan reclaims the vocal from Steven Wilson’s Genesis Revisited II version, to add his more Gabriel-esque delivery.

There’s the added bonus of the debut for Time Table that by watching the video footage, was treated to a really nice lighting arrangement and of course Supper’s Ready never fails to excite when the guards of Magog begin their journey through the apocalypse. the New Jerusalem. Roger King is a star reproducing the keyboard parts While Jonas Reingold is the perfect man to have by your side for the accompanying parts as Hackett wrings every note he can out of the neck as the climax rings to a close.

While Foxtrot in full might be the main attraction, the aperitif of the much underrated Hackett catalogue gets its surface scratched – with gems surfacing mainly from the early days. Ace Of Wands leads the show and heads a Voyage Of The Acolyte / Spectral Mornings heavy selection. A Tower Struck Down takes on an even more ominous hue; a slightly more subdued tempo emphasises the dramatic effect of light and shade

Classic solo deliveries in a sprightly Every Day and Spectral Mornings. The letter has, in recent times, had the full pastoral opening sequence restored and here sounds full and glorious and along with the Every Day solo, still remain arguably Hackett’s best two solo segments.

By the time Camino Royale, with Rob Townsend improvising some jazzy wind lines, takes us on a ride through the fair, there’s an appreciation that the band are playing these numbers with some gusto, not allowing the tempos the become pedestrian. These tempos are stately enough as Shadow Of The Hierophant emerges from the vocal section to build from the most simple of riffs into the tsunami of a spectacular tour de force that rattles the roof and while PROG magazine might snub their nose at more versions of Firth Of Fifth and Los Endos, not many present in Brighton have the need to complain.

2023 is the first year for a decade that we haven’t had a UK Hackett tour, but revisiting Foxtrot is some form of consolation. Until the next time – and as Joe Elliott of Def Leppard always says, “and there WILL be a next time!

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