“The Acolyte’s Voyage” - Steve Hackett’s solo performances examined by Alan Hewitt. Memorabilia: TWR Archive. Photos by G Stuart, R Salem, E Sayers.
It has been almost two years since we had the pleasure of seeing Steve on tour in the UK or anywhere else for that matter! Over the years, Steve has performed a wide variety of solo stage sets and it is these that form the material of this piece.
Steve left Genesis in 1977 and had already recorded his first solo album two years earlier. This album: Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975) and its sequel : Please Don’t Touch (1978) were to form the backbone of Steve’s first live set. There were a handful of gigs performed in late 1978 and as was to become a standard item with Steve right from the start was his tendency to play slightly unusual venues where people often did not have a chance to see someone of Steve’s stature play.
Steve’s first solo gig was at Chateau Neuf in Oslo in October 1978 and it was followed by a couple of gigs in the UK at colleges and small theatres. As a rule Steve played the following set during this tour: Please Don’t Touch/Racing In A/Carry On Up The Vicarage/Ace Of Wands/Hands of The Priestess/Icarus Ascending/Acoustic set (Inc: Horizons- Blood On The Rooftops) The Optigan/A Tower Struck Down/Spectral Mornings/Star Of Sirius/Shadow Of The Hierophant/Clocks/I Know What I Like.
The set was generally well received by both the fans and critics and it was generally well documented by audio recordings as well.
Steve’s next solo album was the one by which all of his works have come to be measured: Spectral Mornings. The album was released to critical acclaim in May 1979 with a UK tour to follow as well as several dates on mainland Europe too. Details of exactly where Steve played on his first UK tour in 1979 are very hard to find but I am aware of the following shows which were performed in June through until August
The new album gained wide acceptance for Steve and his shows were very quickly sold out. So much so that he and his band added a second tour of the UK in October 1979. During the first leg of the touyr the set was as follows: Please Don’t Touch/Tigermoth/Every Day/Narnia/The Red Flower of Taichi Blooms Everywhere/Ace of Wands/Carry On Up The Vicarage/Acoustic Set/The Optigan/A Tower Struck Down/Spectral Mornings/Star Of Sirius/Shadow Of The Hierophant/Clocks/Racing In A/Ace Of Wands and occasionally I Know What I Like.
As with Steve’s first tour earlier in the year, his second outing was very successful and masterful performances were turned in helped by the album which was incredibly strong. The set for the October shows varied slightly from that performed in May and usually ran as follows: Please Don’t Touch/Tigermoth/Every Day/Ace Of Wands/The Virgin And The Gypsy/The Steppes/Narnia/Sentimental Institution/The Red Flower Of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere/Star of Sirius/Spectral Mornings/A Tower Struck Down/Clocks/Acoustic Set/The Ballad Of The Decomposing Man/Hercules Unchained/Racing In A.
This set was particularly interesting because Steve played a couple of as yet unrecorded tracks: The Steppes, Sentimental Institution and Hercules Unchained . The former were to become tracks on Steve’s next album and the latter was to emerge as a single B side. Also notable was the inclusion of The Virgin & The Gypsy which was not played on the first tour and has not been performed since to my knowledge.
Steve’s output was such that the fans only had to wait a matter of months before he was back in the fray with his fourth solo album. This was a concept work based around the experiences of a defector on his/her arrival in the West and it was called, strangely enough: Defector. Once again Steve took to the road with the album and it was during this tour that he made his first venture over to the USA for a few very successful dates as well as playing in Europe and the UK.
During this tour Steve’s set drew on all four of his albums including the following tracks: Slogans/Every Day/The Red Flower Of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere/Tigermoth/Kim/Time To Get Out/The Steppes/Acoustic Set/Sentimental Institution/Jacuzzi/Spectral Mornings/A Tower Struck Down/Clocks/ Please Don’t Touch/The Show/It’s Now Or Never/Hercules Unchained.
Steve was not long in recording yet another album and 1981 saw the fans trooping out to see him on his next tour in support of the new album: Cured which was quite a surprise to many fans as it saw Steve’s debut as vocalist. As usual, the tour took in quite an extensive range of venues including several behind the then Iron Curtain which was a first for any member of Genesis.
As usual the set drew heavily on the newer material but Steve readily acknowledged his past with several older songs too. As a rule, the set was as follows: The Air -Conditioned Nightmare/Jacuzzi/Funny Feeling/ Ace Of Wands/Picture Postcard/The Steppes/Every Day/The Red Flower of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere/ Tigermoth/Horizons/Kim/Overnight Sleeper/Hope I Don’t Wake/Slogans/A Tower Struck Down/Spectral Mornings/Please Don’t Touch/The Show/Clocks.
An added bonus at several; shows was the inclusion of an additional encore and a nod to Steve’s Genesis past with a performance of I Know What I Like. The show at the Triangle Theatre in New York was filmed and broadcast in the USA and it is possible that he also performed other shows in the USA although exact details are not available at present.
1982 was a quiet year for Steve who was hard at work on his next album. He did play a couple of shows however., one at the Elixii Festival in Brest on 12th July and the other at The Venue Club in London on 13th December where he decided to premiere several pieces from the as yet unreleased new album. The set lost for this gig was as follows: The Steppes/Funny Feeling/Can’t Let Go/Hackett To Pieces/A Tower Struck Down/Spectral Mornings/Acoustic Set/Overnight Sleeper/Slogans/Please Don’t Touch/The Show/Clocks/ The Air- Conditioned Nightmare/Hackett’s Boogie.
At the beginning of 1983 Steve also played a special charity show in aid of the Tadworth Hospital appeal fund. The show took place on 29th January and featured guest appearances by Mike Rutherford and Peter Gabriel. For this show a special set was performed: The Steppes/Funny Feeling/Jacuzzi/Hackett To Pieces/Every Day/A Tower Struck Down/Horizons/Kim/Overnight Sleeper/Slogans/The Show/Clocks/ Here Comes The Flood/Solsbury Hill/Reach Out (I’ll Be There)/I Know What I Like.
This was a fitting outing before Steve embarked on hus next solo outing in April 1983 but more of that next time.