Steve Hackett, Liverpool Philharmonic – A Review


Steve Hackett brought his stunning and eclectic show to Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall last night, and all I can say is it’s no wonder I’ve been heckled to go and see the former Genesis legend by folk for years! Labelled the ‘Genesis Revisited – Foxtrot at Fifty + Hackett Highlights Tour’ and marking the 50th anniversary of the legendary Genesis album Foxtrot, I’ve rarely seen Liverpool Philharmonic Hall so electric before a performance. 1972 was a pivotal year in establishing Genesis as a major force in British rock, and Hackett’s continuing reputation for outstanding live performances has preceded him on the concert circuit.

Photo Credit: Andy Scott

Without a spare seat in sight, Steve Hackett slid and progged and sparkled through a superb seven song set to open the show, beginning with an engrossing version of Ace Of Wands from his 1975 debut solo album Voyage of the Acolyte, before delivering a dark and rousing interpretation of The Devil’s Cathedral – a live favourite from one of Hackett’s lockdown releases, Surrender of Silence. Hackett’s remarkable and faultless performance continued with Spectral Mornings, a dizzying delight from his ‘classic Hackett’ period in 1979, Every Day from the same album, and the foreboding Tower Struck Down, also from his now iconic debut record.

Accompanied by his band, Roger King on keyboards, Craig Blundell on drums, Jonas Reingold on bass guitar and vocals, Rob Townsend on saxophone, flutes, keyboards and percussion, and the eccentric Nad Sylvan on vocals, Hackett, though small in stature amongst them, was as large as the hall itself with his engulfing and atmospheric lead guitar. It’s just about as tight a band as you’ll ever see – brave, bold and brilliant, with visuals to match.

The first half closed with an offering from Hackett’s 80’s period – Camino Royale, off the 1983 classic Highly Strung, and Shadow Of The Hierophant, another of his triumphant epics from his much celebrated debut. The buzz at half time was much evident as discussions spread like flames around the hall, particularly regarding the likeness of Sylvan’s voice to original Genesis singer, Peter Gabriel.

Photo Credit: Mike Evans

Strobe lights surrounded Watcher Of The Skies, the opener for an astounding second half in which Hackett and his band of stellar musicians illuminated the classic 1972 Genesis album, Foxtrot. What struck me most about this was the air of celebration in the room – here is a man in good health at 72, and in the form of his career, harking back to a classic period from a classic band in full view of three generations of devotees. The thing about this music is it infiltrates every part of your being. Hackett is a master of composition, and he deserves all the adoration that Liverpool poured out.

Highlights from the second half included the jaunty Get ‘Em Out By Friday, in which Sylvan took off, the beautiful acoustic ambience of Horizons, which roused a standing ovation, and the epic Supper’s Ready. What an album, and what a performance! The lady next to me couldn’t control her tears … “my college album,” she said, and then I understood. 

Photo Credit: Loyd Stranagham

Firth Of Fifth from the 1996 Genesis Revisited album closed an amazing show in which one of the most influential guitarists of the seventies proved that age is no barrier to perfection. With the likes of Brian May and Eddie Van Halen citing Hackett as a major influence, he’s certainly still the man to bring this timeless and eclectic music to the masses. He said in the lead-up to this tour of Foxtrot: ‘I think Foxtrot was a terrific achievement for Genesis at that time… I think there is not one weak track on the album, they all have their strong points and I’m really looking forward to doing the whole album live.’ 

Well, Steve, you didn’t just pull it off. You have reignited our love for this legendary music! If there’s a next time, Liverpool will be out in force, no doubt.

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