"Celebrating forty years of Steve Hackett and Wind & Wuthering" - Steve Hackett in concert at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool on Sunday 7th May 2017. Review and photographs by Jill Walker.
The long awaited day arrives and the Hacketteers begin descending on Liverpool for tonight’s event. Ann and I arrived by train and booked into our hotel. Time for a stroll and to see the sights of Liverpool before a very enjoyable pre- theatre meal and drinks. The excitement was building as we entered the theatre. So many familiar and friendly faces it is a real family of Hackett fans. We had a quick chat with Alan, busy as ever, whose attention was in demand from all sides! Great also to finally meet Diane Bartley, a longstanding Facebook friend of mine and her husband Colin.
Concert time and we had good seats, third row right in front of Nick! Every Day was the opener, an upbeat singalong start to the first half of classic Hackett. How Steve chooses which pf his back catalogue to include beats me , but nothing disappoints. I was hoping to hear what have become my three favourite tracks from Steve’s new album, The Night Siren and I wasn’t disappointed. El Nino was the first of these. The very complex instrumental has grown on me over many listens to the album though I have to admit it has taken some time. Live - it was taken to another level. Superb.
|Next was an old favourite, The Steppes dark and powerful, a much loved piece. Before the next track, Steve made a very moving tribute to our dear Stephanie Kennedy, mentioning all her hard work for the band and the fans. She is much missed. The next track was In The Skeleton Gallery the second of tonight’s offerings from the new album and an instant hit with me on the album and live it did not disappoint, it is so atmospheric. The third new song and favourite from The Night Siren was next. Behind The Smoke. Wow, this was incredible live, Hackett at his very best both vocally and on guitar. His voice has never sounded better . Steve and Jo’s travels around he world are making huge contribution to the multi cultural sounds on these new tracks.|
Serpentine Song could not be more of a contrast, a pastoral reflection on the winding river and remembering his father, beautiful. The haunting vocals of Rise Again followed before building in intensity, preparing us for what was to come next! It was of course, though only the end section tonight, Shadow Of The Hierophant !! What a climactic ending to the first half/ This track belongs to the rhythm section. The maestro drummer Gary O’Toole and the multi talented Nick Beggs. Did the roof lift? Well, almost! Gary’s playing on this is phenomenal and Nick sat cross-legged on the floor beating seven bells out of his Roland bass pedals… with his fists! Hair flailing wildly, totally immersed in the music . With Steve’s hypnotic guitar they were on fire. The audience were in raptures and on their feet.
A short break for some much needed refreshment before the band returned for a fortieth anniversary celebration of what is my favourite Genesis album - Wind & Wuthering. Nad Sylvan’s appearance on stage was greeted very warmly by the appreciative audience and we settled back to enjoy. Savouring every note, singing along to every song, keeping the tissues handy for they would surely be needed! Standing ovations were given for everything that followed. Oh such a treat - Eleventh Earl Of Mar, One For The Vine before Steve’s famous acoustic intro heralded Blood On The Rooftops and another chance for Gary to shine , not only drumming but also providing a beautiful vocal rendition which was very emotional. Then… Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers, In That Quiet Earth and Afterglow, leaving me in bits as usual. Just so moving.
The Wind & Wuthering sequence was now over but the moment um was kept going with the ever popular Dance On A Volcano. These talented musicians bringing something fresh and new to even the most familiar of pieces. Such a treat next to hear Inside & Out for the first time. What a gem, this is one which deserves to be heard afresh .
As the applause died down and a shaft of blue light descended over Roger King, my heart skipped a beat as this was the cue for the ultimate of keyboard intros, Firth Of Fifth. Played with such joy and enthusiasm by all of the band and again, still sounding fresh and timeless. Each musician given a stand out performance topped by Steve’s most famous guitar solo!!
There was another epic tack to come with The Musical Box to finish the show with the rousing choir of the Philharmonic audience joining in. The deafening applause which followed probably could be heard from one end of Hope Street to the other!
A surprise followed when Gary stepped forward to announce that Steve had been voted Best Rock Guitarist 2016 by the Classic Rock Society and presented him with his award. A special moment.
This band rates as 5* in any music lover’s book. Rob Towsend, multi instrumentalist, whose expertise on many wind instruments is exceptional. I particularly love his golden tones on the baritone sax. He brings something special to so many of Steve’s pieces. Roger King, master of the keyboard, technically brilliant and who always leaves a lump in the throat when playing Firth of Fifth in particular. Gary O’Toole, the powerhouse and backbone of the band. Tonight looking suave and suited, at the end still looking as if he could play for another couple of hours. Nick Beggs, the ultimate showman, and bass player extraordinaire. He puts his heart and soul into every note and is thoroughly entertaining as well as being technically brilliant. Nad Sylvan, firmly established as the flamboyant, theatrical front man with the voice to perform the Genesis classics to perfection. The man himself, Steve Hackett, beloved and revered by us fans. He has gifted us with the most amazing, breathtaking music. Dazzling our senses with his exceptional musicianship. A genius! Not forgetting Steve’s wife, Jo whose support and contribution to the song writing is invaluable.
So, the raucous, energetic applause continued until the band returned for a mind-blowing encore. Slogans, from Steve’s Defector album - a fast and furious delight leaving all the band grinning from ear to ear as they were enjoying this as much as we were. Finally, what else but Los Endos. Pure perfection , what else to say but what an ending!
The energy of this band is phenomenal right through to the very last note when Nick collapsed to the stage floor in a heap of joyous laughter his guitar tech making a swift entrance to rescue the prized guitar! They took their bows to tumultuous, heartfelt applause, shaking hands with some of the lucky people and left us not wanting this night to end.
Coming out into the foyer, I felt utterly drained, exhausted, elated, more than a little happy and a little sad that it was over. We had another catch up with Alan who introduced us to the visiting Kiwi, David Yardley who was somewhere on cloud eleven after his wonderful week of Hackett gigs! Also had a chat with the famous, or is that infamous Kev Mellotron (definitely the latter Jill - AH). So lovely to chat to Diane and Colin too and appreciate the magic of the music we had just heard. I kept spotting James Cooper , ex- drummer with Mama, rushing from person to person but never got the chance to say hi.
Many thanks to Steve and Jo and the band for bringing this incredible show to us and, as always, here’s to the next one!