Following earlier successes at Hammersmith Apollo, the Royal Albert Hall and the Cropredy Festival, Steve Hackett returns with another two hours of the songs that made his reputation. Here's what it made us think.
It’s Genesis that fill the Apollo For all the complaints about the lack of screen time given over to Steve Hackett’s solo career in the recent Genesis documentary Together and Apart, you can see why the director chose not to dwell on it. It’s unlikely he’d fill this room were the show not devoted to the seven years with the band rather than the 37 he’s spent on his own, and the reaction to these old songs, largely performed as they were written, is ecstatic. This is perhaps best exemplified by the gentleman in the row ahead of us, who spends the set making dramatic, circular gestures in the air, and by the end of the show — during which he’s paused only to grab handfuls of bombay mix from a carrier bag — is exhausted, slumped in his seat, shirt unbuttoned to the navel.
Nad Sylvan is a slightly square peg in a round hole There’s no doubt the Swede can sing, but he’s no Gabriel, Collins, or even Wilson. He’s at home with anything in a lower register, but his voice becomes a little shrill when reaching for the higher notes. He also looks like he’d be more at home fronting Pendragon, his billowing shirt, magnificent blond tresses and dramatic onstage demeanour suggesting a more swords-and-sorcery style of prog might be his true calling. King Crimson’s Jakko Jakszyk, who appears briefly to deliver Firth of Fifth, has a richer, warmer, and perhaps more suitable voice.
The rest of the band are flawless They’re unfeasibly tight, and surprisingly powerful. These are songs that are not merely played, but attacked. There can’t be many better rhythm sections than Nick Beggs and Gary O’Toole — the former looking like an Allman Brother these days and switching between bass, Chapman Stick and guitar with carefree abandon as the latter batters and clatters the kit. Elsewhere, longtime keyboard player Roger King and flautist Rob Townsend are similarly on the money. And Hackett? He’s in inspired form, initially chatty but fully focussed on the business at hand. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight is a tour-de-force, while Foxtrot’s solo acoustic Horizons is stunning. As the band desert the stage to leave the guitarist in the spotlight, one wag in the crowd yells out, “And then there was one!” Ho ho ho.
It’s some catalogue Just like the recent documentary, there’s no time for anything from Wind and Wuthering, but it’s the kind of omission you only notice as the house lights illuminate. Opener Dance On A Volcano is dramatic, closer Supper’s Ready is absolutely transcendent, and what comes in-between — I Know What I Like (a harbinger of the Genesis to come, surely) with its extended instrumental section, or a swelling, epic Fly On A Windshield — suggest that it’s a forty-year-old catalogue that might just sound as fresh in 2054 as it does tonight.
Dance On A Volcano Squonk Dancing With The Moonlit Knight Fly On A Windshield Broadway Melody Of 1974 The Return Of The Giant Hogweed The Fountain Of Salmacis The Musical Box I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) Horizons Firth Of Fifth Lilywhite Lilith The Knife Supper’s Ready
**Encore: **Watcher Of The Skies Los Endos