“ A Gig For Albert” - Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited Live At The Royal Albert Hall package reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
I am probably not the best person to review this particular offering as I admit to something of a bias when it comes to Mr Hackett but hey, someone has to do it, right?
This gig is always referred to as “the one that got away” for reasons which my tour report in a previous edition of TWR will explain! Anyway, at last I get to see and hear what I missed.
As someone who has been to the venerable old Royal Albert Hall on many occasions I can vouch for the fact that it is a truly magnificent setting for an event such as this and so the band already have an impressive backdrop against which they perform.
The band had changed things around a bit for the second leg of the UK tour and so tonight it is Dance On A Volcano which opens the proceedings. Fiery and fierce, this one literally erupts as it is brought to life by Steve and his incredibly tight band. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, Fly On A Windshield and Broadway Melody Of 1974 are equally impressive. In fact, Steve is definitely relishing the opportunity to extemporise during the solo on Fly On A Windshield and his grin tells its own story.
The first guest of the evening makes his appearance as Ray Wilson takes the stage for a marvellous reading of Carpet Crawlers which brought back many memories of his all too brief time with Genesis for me, a brilliant performance which Ray seemed to enjoy. The guests keep coming as the band are joined on stage by Roine Stolt, Nad Sylvan’s comrade in arms from Agents Of Mercy for a blistering Return Of The Giant Hogweed in which both Stolt and Hackett trade licks with evident relish.
No rest for the wicked as the chimes of the Musical Box herald the arrival of another classic. A truly magnificent performance by the entire band with kudos to Gary and Lee whose rhythm section really drive this one along.
We are given a slight pause for breath as Steve gives us a few moments of acoustic guitar culminating in Horizons, always a joy to hear before we have the truly awesome triptych from my favourite Genesis album: Wind & Wuthering. Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers, In That Quiet Earth and Afterglow are simply staggering. The sheer dynamism of the band’s performance is electrifying even on the small screen.
I Know What I Like, delivered with the same eccentric introduction from the original Genesis Revisited album is next and it has to be said, I have seldom seen Steve looking more relaxed and at home than he does here -he is evidently having as much fun as the audience are and that’s just as it should be!
Firth Of Fifth gives us yet another example of just how inspired a choice Roger King was for Steve. The man is a genius pure and simple and here he delivers one of Tony’s finest performances to perfection. And of course, Steve doesn’t let he side down either with a blistering performance of his own although it has to be said that the guest appearance on vocals by John Wetton does not really impress this listener I’m afraid. John has a magnificent set of pipes but his delivery here as it had been on Afterglow on the previous Live At Hammersmith DVD, sounds somewhat flat and emotionless to these ears - sorry John!
I know that Amanda Lehmann’s take on Ripples has divided the fan base somewhat but personally I love it. Her smokey vocal sounds something akin to Stevie Nicks and that is no bad thing in my book and the performance really shines tonight in what is an all too rare reading of this classic.
Fountain Of Salmacis and Supper’s Ready bring the show to a heart-stopping conclusion with the entire band unleashed and dangerous throughout. Accompanied by superb visuals and augmented by the magnificence of the venue itself this is a breathtaking conclusion to the main set and one would wonder how the band could possibly follow it.
Well, we don’t have long to wait as the sepulchral chords of Watcher of The Skies usher the band back on stage to cheers from the crowd before the show is brought to a thunderous conclusion by Los Endos, replete with a reference to Slogans which does not go unnoticed by the crowd.
And there you have it. Another magnificent evening. The setting, the set list and just about everything in between are exactly what you would expect from an artist of this calibre. Each and every member of the band commits themselves 110 per cent to the task in hand and the special guests too augment the show by fine work.
Visually this one is every bit as impressive as its predecessor and in the main the sound too is equally excellent no mean feat given the notorious acoustics of the hall but there are occasions when Nad’s vocals appear to be too low in the mix but these are few and far between and not enough to spoil the show.
But that is not the end of the cinema show (pun intended) as the bonus DVD not only has another fascinating behind the scenes look at the preparations for the gig including Steve making a cuppa (he makes a mean Earl Grey I can tell you!) with interviews with the guests and the band members in which it is obvious that they are all thoroughly enjoying themselves on this tour and their enthusiasm is infectious. There is also a marvellous extended interview with Steve about all of his solo albums during which we are treated to several fascinating insights making the entire package even more enjoyable than it would have been solely for the concert. A magnificent effort all round!
Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited - Live At The Royal Albert Hall. Inside Out Music/Century Media 0506808 (DVD /2 CD Digibook) Inside Out/Century Media 0506809 ( 5 disc limited edition deluxe artwork edition 2 DVD/2 CD/ 1 Blu Ray)