“Revisiting Genesis With Steve Hackett” - Philharmonic Hall Liverpool Sunday 12th May 2013. Review and photographs by Jill Walker.
Sunday 12th May 2013. This was the day when dreams were to be realised. I heard many times that night the words; “I’ve been waiting 35 years for this”. Steve’s re-working of some of the greatest and most loved of all Genesis songs was to be the ultimate setlist for hardened fans of the band. To have Steve Hackett on stage playing them would be pure joy.
The evening started as usual, at the nearest bar, meeting up with fellow fans and friends old and new. Lovely to see my old mate Alan Hewitt again, still buzzing from the Aylesbury and London gigs (Nah, I hated every minute of them actually - AH). Adrenalin was high as we anticipated what lay ahead.
We made our way to the Philharmonic and upstairs, where Steve would be signing autographs before the show. It was great to see him looking so happy, relaxed and ready for what was to come. I got my CD booklet signed and we had a brief chat. Steve said that he was really looking forward to the night.
Anne-Marie Helder took to the stage first and treated us to a handful of her gorgeous songs. She was very warmly received and deservedly so.
Steve and his band appeared at last and launched into a stunning version of Watcher of The Skies. Roger King’s haunting keyboard intro set the scene and we had the added bonus of three huge screens of visuals and the best light show I have seen at a Hackett gig for a long time. No Amanda Lehmann tonight, but Nad Sylvan took centre stage with vocals. His voice is an eerie cross between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, with more than a hint of a Swedish accent! However, very impressive on Watcher… with a great stage presence and a shock of long blond curls!
Now we were transported back in time ready for the treats to come, and come they did: The Lamia, Entangled, Chamber of 32 Doors, all superb, with stunning visuals. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight was a tour de force; Blood On The Rooftops outstanding. The recreation of these precious songs that have been a big part of my life for so many years is a resounding success, which in the hands of such talented musicians as Steve Hackett and his band is no surprise. The spirit and soul of the originals remain but each piece is given new life with subtle changes and added embellishments, extended solos and an expansive sound. A great example came with The Musical Box. How do you improve perfection? Well, they did, and the first full standing ovation of the night came. The emotion of this event was overpowering and almost tangible.
In contrast came the surprise inclusion of I Know What I Like, played with effortless abandon. A great singalong piece enjoyed by all…keep them mowing blades sharp!
Gary O’Toole, drummer extraordinaire got his turn to shine vocally with Fly On A Windshield and Broadway Melody of 1974. I love his strong, clear voice and would have liked to hear more of him but what a powerhouse drummer he is. Every piece played was a gem from the past. The three gems from Wind & Wuthering - Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers, In That Quiet Earth and Afterglow I could have listened to all night. I was gone - mascara running (so was mine, Jill - AH) heart pounding, this was heaven!
The band were so full of energy and it was obvious that they were really enjoying it as much as we were. Lee Pomeroy in particular, amazing on bass, was beaming all night. Full audience participation was obligatory by the way and you couldn’t have stopped us if you tried!
Then it happened, the opening strains to … Supper’s Ready! Oh my! After all this time I was hearing the whole glorious song with Steve at the helm. Stunning visuals brought the story alive. Musically it surpassed all expectations. It doesn’t get any better than this! At the end of How Dare I Be So Beautiful the massed choir in the hall shouted out “A Flower?” and the centre screen was filled by a single red rose. Nad did a sterling job with the hefty vocals. Willow Farm was filled with humour and plenty of stage antics, such a treat. My heart was pounding even more with the start of Apocalypse in 9/8; so atmospheric and hypnotic, driving upwards and onwards with a passion, til the majestic As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs restored some calm and peace and I’m in floods of tears! (No the only one I’m sure, hey Alan?). Surely this is the most powerful ending to an epic piece of music ever. There aren’t enough superlatives to do this justice.
The band took their bows and left the stage to rapturous applause which continued unabated until they returned for an encore. Roger’s spine tingling keyboard intro to Firth Of Fifth heralded my all time favourite Genesis song. Nearly lost for words now! (Surely not, Jill? AH) but still there was more and Steve announced this one used to be called Los Endos! The band really went for it, taking it to another level; soaring across the hall and building to its climax til the roof almost came off. WOW!
Grateful thanks to a very hardworking and talented band. Roger King, maestro of the keyboard and who also played a big part in the reworking of these tracks, Rob Townsend, multi-talented on tenor sax, soprano sax, flute and whistle; Lee Pomeroy superb on bass and pedals; Gary O’Toole the bowler hatted “Animal” on drums and backing vocals; Nad Sylvan on vocals and brilliant he was. Last but not least, guitar legend Steve Hackett to whom a big thanks for keeping this wondrous music alive for us. Every concert he does is better than the last, but how do you top this one, Steve?
I’ll be waiting. Here’s to the next time.