“In the heart of several cities” - an overview of Steve Hackett’s 1993 UK tour by Alan Hewitt. Photographs by Richard Mills and Jonathan Dann. Memorabilia: TWR archive.
Over the last sixteen or so years, I have had the pleasure of seeing all of the members of Genesis past and present on tour at least once per tour. Steve’s recent tour for the new Guitar Noir album here in the UK was slightly different however, in as much that I eventually ended up attending eight of the twenty two shows (although at least three of the shows were unfortunately cancelled or undoubtedly the total would have been even higher!).
Why, you may ask, attend so many shows of what must fundamentally be the same performance? Well - the answer is quite simple - over the course of the eight concerts in eight different locations, not only did I see eight marvellous shows, but also a great deal of the UK into the bargain and met a great many readers of the magazine, many of whom I have never met before and also made the acquaintance of a great many “new” fans who I hope will be joining us here at TWR very soon. To tell the truth, it was like gigantic family reunion at the shows, where tales of gigs past and present were swapped over a friendly pint or two (or even in several cases, TEN!!).
The one common fact, apart from the performing artists who were all there to see these shows, was the actual size of the venues involved - these were mainly smaller sized places than normal for a show by a performer of Steve’s calibre and it certainly made for a far more intimate show than usual, a fact which was greatly appreciated by the audiences at some of the shows.
My touring itinerary began in my own fair city of Liverpool on a warm Friday in late May, at a tiny theatre situated “in the heart of the city”. having the best seats in the house was of course, an added bonus but the almost capacity crowd went wild when Steve and his new band appeared on stage and apart from some good natured banter from one or two of the more enthusiastic members of the crowd it was an excellent opening to the tour. If Steve and the guys were nervous at all it certainly didn’t show and everyone played their hearts out.
Next up was the gig at Manchester which was unfortunately an early victim of what seemed to dog this entire tour - an appalling lack of publicity. Not one solitary poster advertising the gig could be found and this was unfortunately reflected in the tiny crowd in what was a very small university hall. Not that this affected the band or the appreciative crowd ; in particular the observant guy who was heard to shout out during the show “The man who progressed while Genesis stagnated!” much to Steve’s amusement. It was also at Manchester that I finally caught up with Steve for another long overdue interview with him for the magazine - one conducted in the rather salubrious setting of the refectory with clattering cutlery and all!
The Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton was my next port of call and this show has to be singled out for special mention. The hall is an adjunct to its bigger neighbour the Civic Centre but size isn’t everything and that was certainly the case with this show. An almost capacity crowd gave Steve and the band an ecstatic reception. Tonight really was one of those rare “magical” evenings when both the crowd and the band merged into one and everyone became a player in the band. The band themselves were so evidently enjoying themselves that they returned for an additional encore, which as I continued on the tour, couldn’t help but notice wasn’t played again elsewhere (at least at any of the other shows I attended!).
The De Montfort Hall in Leicester followed the next evening, and what a contrast! One of Genesis’ favourite old haunts and a two thousand seater venue under half full - embarrassing or what?!! The turnout was all the stranger because this was one place that didn’t lack publicity; posters were all over the town advertising the gig! The band were a little disappointed I think by the turnout but the people who were there were vociferous in their welcome to Steve and the band, especially Messrs Powell and Eames (nice one, boys!)
Onwards to another favourite haunt of mine - Sheffield, stomping ground of fellow Waiting Room editor, Peter Morton, and indeed we were both ensconced in prime view seats for what turned out to be another great night with an enthusiastic crowd really wishing Steve and the band a great show and it was nice to see quite a few familiar faces among the crowd - Waiting Room readers will travel, you know!
Next stop was the Bierkeller in Bristol for what was personally one of the most enjoyable shows on the tour. The club was once again far from full but The Waiting Room contingent was by far the strongest yet here with over thirty readers of the magazine in attendance. Another very good performance by the band left many of the crowd who were new to Steve’s music totally blown away by the experience.
I expected Steve’s gig at the Grand Theatre in Clapham (almost his own stomping ground) to be special and indeed it was. An embarrassingly low turnout AGAIN left me wondering if I was the only “old” Steve Hackett fan in town but there was a healthy contingent from TWR there again. The show boasted a special guest in the form of John Hackett who appeared for one track; Kim, which as expected sent the crowd into a frenzy. An added bonus for me was the very great pleasure of meeting Steve’s family after the show, and a special thank you must go to Steve’s wife; Kim and Steve’s mum June for their kindness and for keeping us so greatly entertained with stories which we can’t print in a family magazine like TWR!!!
My final show on the tour was also the final show of the tour and it was a case of “Time Lapse At Milton Keynes” at the Woughton Centre in that town. Once again a small but very enthusiastic crowd saw the band perform a stormer of a show, livened up by the antics of both Doug Sinclair the bass player and Hugo Degenghardt, the drummer who at various points in the set donned rather “fetching” (??) costumes. A very relaxed band took the welcome plaudits of another captivated crowd and it only remains for me to say a few (or rather a lot actually) of thank you’s to people without whom none of this would have been as enjoyable as it actually was, so here goes…
First of all, a very big THANK YOU to Steve, Julian, Doug and Hugo for playing their hearts out night after night on the tour. A special thank you to Billy Budis, Steve’s manager for all his help and kindness to me personally and indeed to all the fans he met on the tour. Also special thanks to Mrs Hackett (Steve’s mum) and the other Mrs Hackett - Kim, for making us so welcome at the show in London.
The following people, please take a bow: Kevin and Shirley Powell for encouraging me in my madness, Phil Eames and the legendary J R Hartley for proving that I am not the only insane Steve Hackett fan left! Jeremy Brown and his mum,. Carol for an excellent weekend in Bristol and also to Richard H, Chris A and Alan D of that fair city for their hospitality. Not forgetting the delicious talents of the following: Mike Jackson, Phil and Richard Morris, Ian Parry, Judith and Andy Mitchell, Allan and Barry Worall, Kevin Hughes, Peter and Joanne, Mark and Rebecca, Kelly and Richard, Nik and Gary, Daniel G, Malcolm and Tracy, Alan Bartlett and everyone else for a GREAT tour!
Finally, one more word for Steve and the band - come back soon boys, WE WILL BE WAITING!!!