“Genesis Revisited - Revisited” - Steve Hackett in concert at the Manchester Apollo Theatre on Saturday 26th October 2013. Review and photographs by Mike Ainscoe. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
The second leg of Steve’s Genesis Revisited II tour which has taken in all parts of the world and continues to roll on, was back in the north for trips to a hunting ground of old - Manchester’s Apollo Theatre (adding in a return to the magnificent Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool and a trip across the Pennines to the similarly splendid City Hall in Sheffield). Although it wasn’t the first time he has played at the Apollo it was intriguing to hear Steve’s onstage comments midway through the show in Manchester - his notoriously failing eyesight being accompanied by a similar failing lapse of memory: “Have I played here before?” he asked. Now, granted he may have done one or two gigs in his time, he could be forgiven for not remembering every one, but having said that, isn’t it strange how time plays tricks on the old memory? It is hard to believe that for those most dedicated fans who distinctly remember Steve’s appearances at the Apollo, it was thirty years ago since he last played solo at the venue during 1983’s Highly Strung tour (having done solo gigs every year there from 1978 to 1981 and not counting his GTR appearance in the late Eighties). Like those famous ripples, sometime memories do sail so far away as to never come back.
Perhaps the fact that Liverpool had two visits on the tour meant that the Manchester gig, whilst well attended, wasn’t full to brimming with no need for the good folk of Liverpool to travel for once. It did give the people of Manchester a chance to show their approval though and the prolonged applause, particularly the ovation at the end of the gig showed how much Steve has been missed, not so much in Manchester (having played assorted venues in the city recently - the Royal Northern College of Music, Academies 2 and 3 and The Lowry) (surely that’s in SALFORD though, Mike? - AH) but at the Apollo.
With original Genesis front man, Peter Gabriel having played in the city at the cavernous arena the night before in celebration of his own So album form 1986, it was in startling contrast to Hackett’s own reason for being in town to celebrate his past. A few shiny new PG T shirts amongst the audience gave away the fact that many had paid their respects to Gabriel the night before and spent probably twice as much for the privilege, although it would have been interesting to canvas their views as to which show gave them the best value and entertainment.
It was some rather grand classical Strauss waltzes which played over the PA helping to build up the pre-concert atmosphere, until the lights dimmed at the scheduled start time of 08:20 and the band walked on to a blue lit stage. From the start there was clearly something a bit different as those sharp-eyed enough will have spotted vocalist Nad Sylvan appearing without his usual robe costume for Watcher Of The Skies - what we got instead was Lee Pomeroy’s ringing twelve string heralding the beginning of Dance On A Volcano - a new set opener, (the first of a pair of ‘dances’ being partnered up with Dancing With The Moonlit Knight) and the start of a number of variations in the set list which would guarantee something a bit different for anyone who had attended the May dates and for those fans who like to attend multiple shows on a tour.
The Lamb… section of the show saw Fly On A Windshield/BroadwayMelody of 1974 sung as usual by drummer, Gary O’Toole with Hackett wigging out on an extended solo, and followed by Carpet Crawlers in Manchester. The strips of lamps which were placed all around the stage set flickered on and off like a set of meteorites or even an unearthly carpet crawling glow worm to add a subtle visual effect to the tumbling verses in which Nad and Gary sang in almost perfect unison.
It was the addition of two more songs from 1971’s Nursery Cryme album however which really upped the ante and illustrated along with the wildly received Musical Box, what a significant album it was for Genesis and for Steve’s first contribution to the band. The Return Of The Giant Hogweed with its massive crescendo at the close, was accompanied by some amusing visuals, a cartoon-like illustration of the original Gabriel lyric and partnered with Musical Box (requiring a count in from Steve, maybe something to do with Roger King’s musical box sample being unavailable and accompanied by a guest appearance from the front row audience member in fox head mask and red jumper - perhaps his wife’s dress wouldn’t fit?), it was a stunning highlight for the midpoint of the show. The addition of Fountain of Salmacis before the usual climax of Supper’s Ready was another welcome change in the revamped set list.
Blood On The Rooftops taking a well earned rest before being revived for later dates - it has after all, been a regular feature in the Hackett set for some time now. The end of Fountain of Salmacis was even more bone shaking than that of The Return of The Giant Hogweed although if I have to be picky, I will admit to finding the 1978 Genesis version of Salamis (particularly with Daryl Stuermer’s contribution on his first Genesis tour) to be hard to beat, and being ultra picky, it would have been exciting to hear Steve extend the guitar solo at the climax which seemed disappointingly short.
Not much needs to be said about Supper’s Ready which hasn’t already been said. It has been simply wonderful night after night and to hear this landmark piece of music played by one of its creators and his band who truly do justice to its standing as one of the top Prog compositions of all time has been nothing less than an honour.
Listening to Watcher Of The Skies and a blast through Los Endos are just the icing on the cake in a show which has been rapturously received wherever it has played both at home and on foreign soil. The concept and willingness to embrace and celebrate once and for all the past has been quite refreshing and served to highlight what a marvellous legacy Genesis left behind in those classic years of the Seventies, despite some members of the band seemingly disinclined to own up to the fact.
Whilst the Genesis Revisited II album and tour may have been an exercise in pure nostalgia, over the past year, the tour seems to have gone form strength to strength with the final round of UK dates seeing the band in particular hitting their stride and the interplay between them and the sheer enjoyment was palpable. Nad Sylvan has grown noticeably in confidence and has a real presence on stage and in the way he inhabited the songs. By his own admission, it has been the dream gig for Lee Pomeroy who continued to play a blinder while the normally sedate Roger King was having a ball - mouthing across to Lee - “where’s he gone?” as Nad became the angel standing in the sun and disappearing into the sunset in search of the New Jerusalem at the end of Supper’s Ready all the while Hackett’s glorious solo filled the halls. For the thousands who have borne witness to Genesis Revisited, it has been one last chance to wallow in the glories of the past one more time.
Can we now consider Hackett’s Genesis “itch” well and truly scratched having populated his live set more and more with teasers from his past? Despite another dip into the “Revisited” waters early in 2014, it will be interesting to see what comes next career-wise. Maybe a return to the classic solo Hackett material of old and a chance to revisit again some of the vast bank of solo material stored away in the back catalogue for a rainy day? There must be many options and with the last set of solo material, Beyond The Shrouded Horizon being such a strong set, it would be something to witness a set comprising pure Hackett material. What firm it will take, be it a set of classics or the temptation to follow so many rock acts and do a whole album performance, maybe even a fan’s choice, there will be many who will be impatient to see Steve back out on the road again in 2014.