Live: Steve Hackett. Genesis Revisted.

The Birmingham Symphony Hall is one of the best venues in the world for listening to live musical acts, it features sound boards purposely positioned and when looking upwards from the stalls the roof structure reflects like an upside down hull of a dream liner ship. This facet creates an environment for performers who are practiced in their art to deliver a sound quality which may become lost in other arena venues. Tim Price, words and Lee Millward, photography, review Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited.

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

Welcome to the second round of the sell out 2013 Genesis Revisited tour by Steve Hackett and his band, performing songs of early Genesis which have now become classical pieces of music in their own right to rank alongside the great composers in history. Consequently, revisited songs such as Suppers Ready are played out in their entirety note for note as per the original recording; there are no quick medley mixes going on here.

Steve Hackett delivers a performance of Genesis only material, none of his own solo works, to an audience leaning on every word and chord, complemented by an amazing light show. Seconds Out was the double Genesis album of 1977, revered by Genesis fans not only for the live music, but also for the piercing light shows, which at that time were unprecedented. Genesis became the act to see and, before the days of internet booking, fans queued up overnight, often for days, to obtain tickets for their shows featuring ground breaking pyrotechnics.

Technical advances over the last 40 years means that this Genesis Revisited tour delivers lights capable of out powering anything from the 70’s, which then needed a myriad of trucks to haul around bulky equipment. Today’s version is so intensely powerful that from the 23rd row in the stalls I could clearly see my pen jotting down notes on my reporters pad and could even see the legendary Carl Palmer sitting two rows in front taking in every detail.

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

Steve Hackett took centre stage for the opening Watcher Of The Skies, welcoming back those who came in March, greeted those first timers who could not obtain tickets and responding to his vocal supporters with “We can’t do two way radio, we cannot hear you” as the auditoriums magnified one directional sound meaning that performers are unable to hear anything coming from the audience. Listening pleasure became further heightened as it was soon realised that what was being delivered was more akin to that of a high quality vinyl pressing than a live gig.

Dancing With The Moonlight Knight from the now #1 Prog Classic album of all time Selling England By The Pound was treated to a backdrop of stunning images played out on three massive screens including fields being ploughed and oil rig heads nodding away. The visual effects complemented the music as did the theatrical front man antics of Nad Sylvan who played out a very credible version of a young Peter Gabriel.

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

An acoustic guitar solo, sitting on a stool, lead into the heavy Fly On A Windshield from the album Lamb Lies Down On Broadway demonstrating how Steve Hackett is still one of the most gifted guitarists. The riffs remain some of the heaviest within Hackett’s massive repertoire but it is the body language and demeanor which sets him apart from any other as he creates massive sound and power without hardly moving.

From the album of 1971 Nursery Cryme came the stomping Return Of The Giant Hogweed, Hackett declaring it as one of his favorites, rarely played live and thus set down as a challenge for his band, a classic track in which Hackett’s influence played a major part as it did with the next offering Musical Box, some of the first material co-written with Gabriel featuring those symbolic early Genesis majestic riffs.

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited Tour. Birmingham (Photographer: Lee Millward)

A further acoustic set led into Blood On The Roof Tops which, with its poignant lyrical content of all thing traditionally English executed by the drumming singer, Gary O’Toole, providing a vocal and visual memory of the way Phil Collins used to go about his work. Those strobe lights came into play for the powerful finale Dance On A Volcano which became the crowd’s favorite from the Trick Of Tail period.

The Bankesque piano of Roger King intertwining with the flute of Rob Townsend lead into the five minute guitar solo held within the boundaries of Firth Of Fifth remaining, in my opinion, the greatest guitar work ever to be laid down. On this evening, conducted in the Birmingham Symphony Hall, generating a calm confidence with seemingly effortless ease Steve Hackett delivered virtual perfection. If this means we are ‘Selling England by the Pound’ I would like to invest heavily in this classic art form, with true values, worth holding on to.

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Tim Price words, and Lee Millward, photography. October 22nd 2013.

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