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  • Graeme Scott

Revisiting with Steve Hackett



October 23rd 2021

Almost two years on from seeing Steve and his band in Edinburgh doing the Selling England By The Pound tour here they were again, finally back on the road following the pandemic, and boy did it feel great to be back experiencing live music again. For me this had an added special poignant treat, but more of that in a bit.

Steve has used the down time to release two brand new albums in 2021plus a live version of the last tour released in 2020. So those have massively helped to maintain his profile with his loyal fan base. Tonight there was however nothing to be heard from the beautiful acoustic album Under A Mediterranean Sky… tonight was all about band power.

A much shortened first set, which was to be expected considering what was to come in part two. So what did set one dish up? Well I was nicely surprised by the opening cut Clocks / The Angel Of Mons from 1979. Sounding really fresh and exciting and powerfully rolling over you. Just to experience a band again in full flight, pinning you back in your seat with a crystal clear sound mix, was brilliant. Hell, the onstage lighting even thrilled me. It all brought back just how much has been lost throughout the last twenty-two months or so.

Held In The Shadows was next from the current release before we returned to the classic Spectral Mornings album again for Every Day. The Gothically dark and brooding The Devil’s Cathedral, also from the new Surrender Of Silence album, followed telling the tale of an understudy who eventually kills and takes over completely the life of the “master”.

The thing about playing live is that, in many cases, it allows an artist to open up the music from within the constraints of a recorded piece. The individual band members can stretch their chops. This is especially true with what is termed Prog Rock or Jazz. Steve and his guys, lead vocalist Nad Sylvan, Rob Townsend all things woodwind, percussion and some keys, Roger King keyboards, Jonas Reingold bass plus some six and twelve string guitar and Craig Blundell drums, all sharing vocal parts, pushed at boundaries throughout. The much-truncated set closed with the instrumental section only from Shadow Of The Heirophant drawn from his debut solo album. If I was to have one complaint it would be that there was nothing from the output covering the bulk of his career or at the very least something from 2019 The Edge Of Light but this is just a small niggle.

For most of us, we were here for the main course, and yes I allude to that magnum opus. Set 2 was to comprise the entire contents in order, and I will not list them here, of Seconds Out. Most of you readers will be aware that this live album was a double vinyl release by Genesis and was in fact the last body of work on which Steve participated. He had announced his departure during the song selection / mixing stage of the process and perhaps unkindly his guitar elements did not feature as prominently as might have been expected and one which was completely rectified tonight.

Seconds Out comprised material from Trick Of The Tail, Selling England By The Pound, Nursery Cryme, Wind And Wuthering, Foxtrot plus The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. All heavyweight albums, all with absolute classic Genesis live set favourites and also some the very best music ever written in the rock genre.

I have been going to concerts for very nearly sixty years, and yes my ears are still in pretty good shape. Music lovers have all got certain key concert moments, singles or albums in their own lives which provide the bedrock upon which their experiences are rooted and for me F, TOTT and WAW are three such albums. Over the years I have heard, live, all my favourites but had never had the chance to experience Suppers Ready until last night. Did it measure up to waiting forty-nine years seventeen days since its release to put that right? Damn right it did! All of its twenty-six minutes majesty surpassed my anticipation by any measurement. Nad nailed the vocal complexities not copying of Peter Gabriel’s persona. Opting for a subtle interpretation of the complex lyrics with a sly look here or there, a toss of his flowing locks along with measured movements of his arms, legs and body. Most importantly, he had a masterful grasp of the idiosyncratic elements of speech and the delivery required of those lyrics. Just brilliant!

The quality of musicianship on display was of the very highest order. Steve, at seventy-one, appears to have lost none of his subtlety, speed or dexterity over the frets and this bodes well for many years of shows to come never mind new releases.

Our evening closed out with the huge Dance On A Volcano and Los Endos, segued together by a thankfully short, but impressive, drum solo. Those alone took up over fifteen minutes. Short changed? Hell no! That is not something, which could ever be said of Steve Hackett.

Graeme Scott

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