“Hackett wears boots shock!” - Steve Hackett in concert at the Lyric Theatre Salford on Sunday 2nd Novembver 2014. Review and photographs by Mike Ainscoe.
Although it had been a mild day for late autumn, the evenings’ pre-gig ritual involved shivering outside the Dockside pub in the middle of the shimmering glass and chrome of the BBC’s Media City bringing to mind the lovely old Lamb… bootleg As Though Emerald City and eating chips for warmth (shivering Mike? ‘twas a bracing evening - ED). With Mostly Autumn’s Bryan Josh sat at an adjacent table having a few pre-gig lagers and roll-ups and TWR Editor, Alan at our table, it was almost a case of spot the celebrity! (Aww, thanks Mike - ED).
Meanwhile over at the much more conducive Quays Theatre in the Lowry Structure, the plush lilac seating made for a much more preferable alternative for another two and a half hours of Genesis Extended with Steve Hackett and the boys. Having seen the show the week before in York it was suddenly dawning all of a sudden that the heady days of seeing Steve deliver rollicking versions of Supper’s Ready and The Musical Box are slowly coming to an end. Talk sprung to mind of being grateful for what you’ve got and making hay while the sun shines, nonetheless, it was quite a sobering thought that after almost two years, we are reaching the last run in the UK with only a month of US dates to see the show run its course (plus the South American jaunt next year too, Mike - ED).
But - ever onward and each show seems to be different from the last - even in the short space of a week, there are nuances and notes to make as each show progresses, the most significant note from tonight’s simply reading : “Boots!” As he crept on in the blue lit stage tonight, there was a distinct difference in the shadowy outline taking centre stage, and as the lights came aflame at the opening notes of Dance On A Volcano, those in the know would have calmly observed that Steve was back in the sartorially splendid knee length boots not seen since… (and I will leave that to SH fashion editor and TWR Editor Alan to fill in the missing dates - although at a guess it may be as far back as the GTR days circa 1986). (You are correct Mike - TWR Fashion Correspondent/Editor).
Apart from the fashion notes, the threat made by Bryan Josh that the band were going to ‘melt your face’ started in earnest. Following the usual eruption of the volcano, Steve took time to introduce the show with a few well meaning and totally inoffensive Genesis jibes - obviously flying the flag and keeping the music alive “no one else is doing it” (and for anyone else who wants to see a further Genesis tribute, just You Tube his brief acoustic Invisible Touch).
Sitting back and watching the show from a distance tonight gave the show a slightly different perspective and the chance to take a wider view of the contribution made by the band. The absence of the projection screens gave a chance for the lights to come into their own again. ; simple yet effective with set pieces for the start of Watcher in the encores and in particular the switch between purple and green light in time with the thumping of Fly On A Windshield where Nick Beggs’ work on the Chapman Stick really gave some deep resonance to the marching pulse. A hard one to call, as all the band make a magnificent contribution to the music but the Lee Pomeroy/Nick Beggs role playing multiple instruments (and singing) perhaps edges it. Nick’s bass playing was stunning and clearly audible in Firth of Fifth in particular where “that solo” swelled and soared and was rejuvenated, especially with the bass pedals doing their share to add to the sonic palette, and became an evening highlight having been played close to death. I wonder if he ever thought back in the Eighties when he was singing “Too shy-y” and prancing around on Top Of The Pops, that thirty years later he would be singing the likes of “Demi God and nymph are now made one” with a prog god?
Rob Townsend’s superb flute work has been a feature of these shows; although he takes centre stage with his sax solo during I Know What I Like and clarinet during Los Endos it is his flute work which stands out - check out on the various concert films of the shows where he plays in Supper’s Ready and Firth Of Fifth. Although there will be those photographers who will wish he would take his cap off so it doesn’t cast shadows over his face!
For Roger King and Gary O’Toole, read near musical perfection. There cant be too many shows where they lose it and heaven forbid, play a wrong note. Roger continued to amaze delivering the aural range and solos, while getting the chance to finally watch Gary from a raised vantage point revealed what a remarkable job he does around his expansive kit, not just with his drum work and fills, but also with the subtleties which the music requires.
And of course, there’s Nad. Perhaps the focal point of everything in his various costumes and the way in which he has made the vocalist role his own, not that anyone seems in the slightest bit bothered at all which songs he sings and whether or not he needs to sound like Gabriel or Collins. You can tell that Steve’s audience is rooting for him and the applause he gets when he is introduced is quite touching.
The guitarist isn’t too bad either. Improvising away on either I Know What I Like, even touching on a bluesy theme or two this evening and taking the end of Supper’s Ready all the way to the New Jerusalem which is what that ending deserves, wringing out every possible ounce of emotion. The highlight may well be what he does in taking Fly On A Windshield to its limits. Is there anyone else who couldn’t listen to that section of the show all night? No introduction necessary as the phrase goes, just a single strum of those six strings for the opening chord and you know what is about to come. Bass pedals working in tandem with the beat and four musicians locked into a compelling groove. Maybe above all, it may be the moment which lives longest in the memory of the last couple of years.
So what next? Having perused the question at the end of Genesis Revisited maybe with a new album in the pipeline it will be back to a full Hackett music show, or could Steve be ever so bold and go for it in a big way. Not one to pontificate over the Genesis question, could he, should he maybe one last time? He has revisited and even extended Genesis … or has he? Come on, Steve, get Nad to don a leather jacket and get down to the hairdressers, let Roger have a go at Riding The Scree and have a go at a full Lamb… show!
Thanks for the reviews Mike. Steve “doing a Lamb…”? No thanks. Give me a total Hackett show anytime - ED.