Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited with The Heart Of England Orchestra – 7th October 2018 – Gateshead Sage
By Gordon Armstrong (G’s Gig Shots)
The lights go down at 7:30pm and I’m trying to remember how many times that I have seen Steve Hackett since that Spectral Mornings tour all those years ago. The count is swiftly put to one side as the familiar melody and drum salvo intro of Dance On A Volcano kicks off this first of the evenings two sets. The six-piece already look comfortable and why wouldn’t they be having the back up of a 41 piece orchestra belting out behind them!
This tour is unique in that sense as it’s the first Genesis Revisited tour where Steve has taken out a full orchestra on tour Steve to take these timeless classics to a new level! Oh, my word it works more than you can try and explain in words!
Solo career tracks Out Of Body and The Steppes follow the Genesis opener and the latter of the two is just incredible. The orchestra adds so much cinematic quality and depth to this desert-themed tune it just soars!! Back to the archives and a track that if anyone else had in their catalogue it would be an encore or at least a set closer it’s such a fantastic piece Firth of Fifth. This is an absolute showstopper of a performance Nad Sylvan is probably the best I’ve seen him his confidence is just spot on hitting every note but as ever it’s THAT solo from Steve that leaves jaws on the floor!
Bolstered by the strings and brass of the orchestra this time it just feels so new and exciting and has everyone wondering how they can follow that for the rest of the night! Dancing With The Moonlit Knight that’s how!!! From the Selling England album (which Steve is performing in full on next years tour) Nad yet again shines delivering some of (in my opinion) Gabriel’s finest lyrics ever with ease and dramatic flair! That’s not to say the band have it easy this track, in particular, has a lot going on and builds from a folk song like intro into a mad mix of time signatures handled with ease by the rhythm section of Gary O’Toole & Jonas Reingold on drums and bass respectively! Gary is featured on the more gentle Blood On The Rooftops before set one closes with a HUGE sounding Shadow Of The Hierophant receiving a standing ovation before a deserved interval!!
The double hit of Wind & Wutherings’ In That Quiet Earth & Afterglow gets the second set well and truly underway featuring Rob Townsend (Sax, flute, percussion) at the centre of it all. As the fade out into Afterglow kicked in it felt like the only thing missing was those old Boeing landing lights that created that iconic image of the band in photos of old.
Two more solo tracks Serpentine Song (written about Steve’s father) and the percussive El Niño are up next the latter showcasing Steve’s guitar work and various techniques to the max. Possibly progs most ambitious track closes the set … yep Suppers Ready, in all of its 29-minute glory every segment performed to perfection. I just sat immersed in the whole thing, the orchestra not only bolstering but adding so much more to its grandeur.
The final segment with Steve’s wailing solo, accompanied by 46 other musicians is something I won’t forget. This for most would have been enough but nope they return for the classic Musical Box with Roger King providing those familiar keyboard riffs around the sinister nursery rhyme tale and ferocious guitar work. A standing ovation on three tiers and rightly so. I have always said Hackett is an unsung hero of the guitar but those who know… know! Early in the set, Hackett said this tour was like all his Christmases in one and we were lucky to be a part of his early yuletide joy!
Massive praise to the Heart Of England Orchestra who absolutely nailed the arrangements Their conductor Bradley Thachuk led them brilliantly he was so into the performance turns out he grew up on rock and prog before going down the classical route so this was like his dream gig.
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