STEVE HACKETT USHER HALL EDINBURGH November 25th 2019
My kids gave me a few years ago one of those fridge magnets with the inscription “I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands”. Well for the most part that is absolutely true but I never got to see Steve Hackett / Peter Gabriel era Genesis. Tonight Steve, alongside his current Genesis Revisited Band line-up gave the packed house exactly what they were looking for a fine balance between Steve originals culled from the current album At The Edge Of Light, highlights from his terrific album Spectral Mornings (can it truly be celebrating it’s 40th anniversary and if yes how is that possible?) plus in all it’s complex glory the entire Selling England By The Pound album.
When you think about it an album released in October 1973 could potentially sound dated in the extreme but tonight it had all the freshness and wonder as the time my ears first enjoyed it. I feel that it is the measure of the quality of the writing from a band who were, arguably working towards their absolute peak, which allows us in 2019 to sit in joyous rapture as these sounds enveloped us. However I rush ahead of myself.
Every Day got us underway and right from the off whomever was at the F.O.H. sound desk had the measure of the room getting the balance just about perfect quickly. Vocals were crystal clear in the mix sitting within the instrumentation which also had been configured really well. A quick triplet of current tracks Under The Eye Of The Sun/Fallen Walls and Pedestals plus Beasts In Our Time followed before we went back forty years to The Virgin And The Gypsy a beautiful almost acoustic harmony drenched aural feast.
At this point I should point out that up to this stage and indeed through to the close of the first set the “lead vocalist” Nad Sylvan was almost completely absent from the proceedings. Steve and the rest of the band, Rob Townsend all things woodwind, percussion and some keys, Roger King keyboards, Jonas Reingold bass and Craig Blundell drums, all shared vocal parts.
The remainder of the set comprised a very cut down version of Tigermoth, Spectra Mornings, Horizon (from 1972’s Foxtrot), a very lovely The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere and finally Clocks-The Angel Of Mons.
And so the second set began as expected with the entire SEBTP album played in the original order the tracks appeared on the album. I will not list everything but there are four very long songs including Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, the epic Battle Of Epping Forest and The Cinema Show. Even the very first hit single Genesis had I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was given an extended jazz infused work out.
Throughout this segment of the show Nad handled most of the vocal duties. He did not attempt to do a copy of Peter Gabriel’s somewhat unusual stage persona. Instead he opted for a nuanced theatrical interpretation of the complex lyrics. He mustered a sly look here or there, measured movements of his arms, legs and body along with a toss of his long white hair and, most importantly, a good grasp of the idiosyncratic elements of speech and the delivery required of those lyrics.
Following a huge round of applause at the end of the album Steve regaled us with the fact that one song he particularly enjoyed working on with Peter during the sessions for SEBTP was a song called Déjà Vu. It never got quite finished and was dropped from the album. However many year later Steve completed the music adding Peter’s lyrics and this was performed for us tonight. I could hear why it could have fitted in to the concept and sound of SEBTP but at least we could enjoy it played live.
By this time in the evening the band needed to raise the bar once more and the piece chosen was Dance On A Volcano. How could they top that explosive bit of music? Well I guess it was no surprise that it was a mash up of Myopia / Los Endos / Slogans and Los Endos.
What an evening of entertainment we had. Nearly three hours of superb musicianship, music, sound and lighting. I don’t know how anybody could have failed to be impressed. It proved to me that the combination of Prog Rock sitting alongside of elements of Folk and Jazz can still enrapture an audience completely. Our music business has changed beyond all recognition over the last seventy years. The way many youngsters, and indeed those more advanced in their years consume music leaves much to be desired. I sure am glad I’ve been around to enjoy such a wealth of inventive progressive developments in music but my thoughts go back to that fridge magnet…’damn but I saw all the great bands’.