It’s weird to be back in a concert hall after more than two years of social distancing and lockdowns, that’s for sure, but we persevered thanks to mr. Steve Hackett and his band.
We bought the tickets years ago in a time that now feels like there was not even colour television yet, although that may be a stretch. It was a time before corona however and it’s sometimes hard to remember a time before the pandemic. When you finally do step back into a sold-out venue to enjoy live music, it’s also extremely easy to forget all about the lockdowns, the face masks and the almost complete lack of social life. As soon as the lights dim on the crowd and the band sets in Clocks – The Angel of Mons from Steve Hackett’s third solo album Spectral Mornings, it’s like nothing ever happened at all; life is back to normal and we’re here for good music and a beer or two.
Those who have been to a Steve Hackett concert know what to expect, and the man, together with his band, delivers in spades tonight, starting out with a small block of solo tracks, including brand new tracks Held in the Shadows and The Devil’s Cathedral from his latest album Surrender of Silence. The performance is outstanding, with Steve noodling away on his guitar, Steve Townsend impressing on the brass and vocalist Nad Sylvan towering over the rest as a spectre, almost floating on and off the stage when needed. As always during his solo stuff, it’s obvious that a laptop is whirring away somewhere with vocal backing tracks as these parts sound almost painfully and perfectly identical to the studio material, but that does not deter from the quality of the material. The first and all too short first half of the concert ends on a high note with the instrumental closing section of Shadow of the Hierophant, a fan favourite that almost everybody loves mostly because of the big, hypnotic apotheosis. And we’ve not heard it being performed as heavy as tonight, where you can feel the floor rumble and your clothes flutter on your body because of the soundwaves.
The second half of the concert consists of an integral performance of Genesis’ seminal live album Seconds Out. That means we start out with Squonk, roll on through the set and end with Los Endos, just the way it should be. It’s the journey in between those songs that inspire awe tonight, with highlights like The Carpet Crawlers, a wonderful rendition of Afterglow, the sweeping grandeur of a Firth of Fifth and crowd pleasers like I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The entire band is on top of its game here but other than Hackett himself, most credit should go to Nad Sylvan who delivers the mostly Peter Gabriel-written word salad with admirable aplomb. Nowhere is this more impressive than in the evening’s highlight Supper’s Ready, a song with lyrics so bordering on the poetic nonsensical that it’s a nigh impossible task to do justice. Props also to drummer Craig Blundell who does a more than admirable job on drums tonight, making songs like Supper’s Ready and The Cinema Show a pleasure to listen to.
So, after two years it seems like life is returning to normal, and how can we better celebrate a return to the old normal than with a trip down memory lane like this? As always, Hackett is a man of few but sympathetic words, instead choosing to let the music speak for him and the band. And what a pleasure it was to revel again in that classic Genesis era on a long needed night out.
- Clocks – The Angel of Mons
- Held in the Shadows
- Every Day
- The Devil’s Cathedral
- Shadow of the Hierophant
- The Carpet Crawlers
- Robbery, Assault & Battery
- Firth of Fifth
- I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
- The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
- The Musical Box (closing section)
- Supper’s Ready
- The Cinema Show
- Aisle of Plenty
- Dance on a Volcano
- Los Endos / Slogans / Los Endos
Review by RP