Steve Hackett - O2 City Hall, Newcastle 16.10.2021
Newcastle City Hall is a venue close to my heart. I saw my first ever concert there aged 11 and never looked back since, so I was even more excited than usual to be going to see Steve Hackett again here in this wonderful building. This last 19 months must have been the longest that Steve has not been out on the road for a very long time and you can see in everyone’s faces they are ready to welcome him with open arms. Steve is also in great spirits mentioning that we’ve seen too many insurance ads and tv cookery programmes and it’s low time for live music to return!
The night is split into two sets the first being a somewhat short but perfectly formed “ appetiser “ where Steve and the band dig into the solo releases opening up with a ferocious version of 'Clocks - The Angel Of Mons' from the 'Spectral Mornings'. The latest album 'Surrender Of Silence' has some of the most Rock vibes I’ve heard from Hackett in a while and 'Held In The Shadows' goes to prove it with some stellar guitar work and pounding drums and bass from Craig Blundell and Jonas Reingold. A second trip back to 'Spectral Mornings' lightens things up with 'Everyday' followed by a very atmospheric 'The Devils Cathedral' the second from the latest album. Finishing the set with a jaw dropping and bass pedal tastic 'Shadow of the Hierphant' everyone’s whistle is suitably whetted ready for the main course of the evening .
After a short interval the band return to perform the full double live Genesis album 'Seconds Out' the last album released to feature Mr Hackett. For me and many others Steve is the defining sound of the classic Genesis era, yes we all loved Peters theatrics and lyrics and musicianship of the band as a whole BUT it was Steve’s guitar tone and feel that was at the core and made them what they were.
'Squonk' kicks in and instantly takes us all back to 1977 with its tale of the ugly creature and the huntsman tracking it down by its tears to its puddled end! Roger Kings beautiful delicate intro to 'The Carpet Crawlers' signals the first of many goosebump moments of the evening with Nad Sylvan possibly performing vocally the best I’ve heard in all the tours yet! He’s taking both the Gabriel and Collins fronted songs and kind of walking that fine line of making them his own but staying faithful to the originals if that makes sense .
My personal favourite of the Collins fronted material 'Afterglow' is up next and not only do we have the band nailing the song we are also treated to a recreation of the lighting that became the iconic 'Seconds Out' cover courtesy of Chris Curran’s superb lighting design .
'Firth of Fifth' still stands as not only a Genesis classic but also one of the genres greatest all round compositions from the piano introduction the pomp and ceremony of the main body of the song, then that woodwind solo performed by the multi talented Rob Townsend all building to that up to what I still say is the perfect Prog Rock guitar solo sending shivers up spines every time.
'I Know What I Like' lets the band stray from the path a little with a bit of a jazzy jam session in the middle again showcasing Robs talents again on sax with a bit of a duel between him Steve and Jonas.
'Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' and the closing section of 'Musical Box' gives Nad a chance to tackle Rael and Henry in one go which he does with great effect.
And so onto one the most ambitious songs in any bands career the epic 'Suppers Ready' which even in its studio format takes up almost an entire side of the record! The seven part good versus evil tale is just astonishing still to this day with each member of the band coming together building the song to its 'New Jerusalem' climax and deserved standing ovation at which point most bands would have been done BUT NO not Steve Hackett as we still have the tale of the star crossed lovers in 'The Cinema Show' to take us to the end of the set with a lovely addition of 'Aisle of Plenty' which isn’t on the 'Seconds Out' album.
The band return to encore with 'Los Endos' / 'Dance On A Volcano' and an amazing drum solo from Craig Blundell plus a cheeky excerpt from Steve’s solo track 'Slogans' if I’m not mistaken!
The City Hall erupts with cheers and applause at the end of an incredible evening and I spoke to a few who’d been to the 1977 shows at this same venue and they said this performance was up there alongside it! I have to say that in all the times I’ve seen Steve solo since the late 70s this was one of the best! Can’t wait to see what he tackles next!
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Photos & Review - G's Gig Shots