Steve Hackett, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - review
With the success of his various Genesis Revisited tours these past few years it would be easy to forget that the band's former lead guitarist, Steve Hackett, has had a long and lauded solo career too.
That point was made clear though as Hackett brought his somewhat clumsily titled Genesis Revisited with Hackett Classics tour to Symphony Hall, a concert being filmed for future release.
The first third of the two-and-a-half hour set was drawn from the 67-year-old's solo output, taking in fan favourites like opener Every Day and The Steppes and proving that the guitarist’s creative juices are still flowing with three tracks from his latest, recently released album The Night Siren.
El Nino, In The Skeleton Gallery and Behind The Smoke are all coloured by Hackett's interest in world music, giving his own particular brand of prog rock new shades and colours as he wove his unique soaring guitar sound into the mix.
Keeping it in the family, Hackett's younger brother, John, made a guest appearance on flute during Serpentine Song.
The last track of the show's solo section was Shadow of the Hierophant, which almost made it onto Genesis's Foxtrot album in 1972 but instead had to wait until Hackett's debut solo album Voyage of the Acolyte three years later.
With second guitarist Amanda Lehmann on vocals (or third guitarist if you count bass maestro Nick Begg's forays onto six and 12-string instruments) it proved a perfect crossover for the remainder of the concert, which was made up of Genesis classics and celebrated the 40th anniversary of the band's last truly prog album, Wind and Wuthering, by recreating almost all of it.
Eleventh Earl of Mar was mysterious and powerful and One For The Vine majestic and stirring, with singer Nad Sylvan inhabiting a place somewhere in between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins as he put his own mark on the songs, although there were some signs of the heavy cold he's been nursing during the tour.
A real treat followed with Blood on The Rooftops, a song which Genesis themselves never played live and a chance for drummer Gary O'Toole to shine on vocal duties. Then the instrumental In That Quiet Earth led to a magnificent Afterglow, one of the band's most powerful and soaring songs.
Another treat was to follow with Inside and Out, a song recorded for Wind And Wuthering but which was instead confined to Genesis's much maligned (by the band) Spot The Pigeon EP. An utterly gorgeous piece of music, it remains one of prog's greatest puzzles that it wasn't given the platform it deserves, but Hackett and his band put that right.
Away from Wind and Wuthering, Genesis classics Dance on a Volcano, Firth of Fifth and The Musical Box all got a rapturous reception, the latter two the concert's only songs from the Gabriel era, before Los Endos brought the set to a dramatic close, cleverly blending Hackett's own Slogans into the mix.
Shy and self-effacing he may be but as the unofficial keeper of the flame for Genesis's prog rock glory days, Steve Hackett remains a true champion for a unique British band and a fine solo artist in his own right.