Steve Hackett - Sage, Gateshead 22.08.2022
Steve Hackett has to be one of the hardest working people in the music business. No sooner had he finished the 'Seconds Out and More' tour he was organising another this time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Genesis classic 'Foxtrot' album which a very excited Gateshead crowd were eager to be part of tonight.
As per the previous couple of tours the evening is split into two sets and delving back to his first solo album the evening begins with a wonderful 'Ace Of Wands' with its intricate melodies allowing each of the musicians a work out to get the set well and truly under way. Nad Sylvan makes his first appearance of the night during the dark and sinister 'The Devils Cathedral' a tale of almost Poe proportions with Roger Kings church organ intro truly setting the scene. It’s the only track from the most recent release in the set but sits perfectly with the classics of old.
Speaking of which next up is the title track to the 1979 album 'Spectral Mornings' which to this day is still one of my favourite pieces of music. The tone and structure of this piece just gets me every time and just strengthens my belief that Steve is not only one of the best guitarists but also one of the best writers of Progressive Rock music.
The catchy pop and vocal harmony of 'Everyday' paves the way for another pick from 'Voyage of the Acolyte' with 'A Tower Struck Down' and it’s mechanical like rhythm with Steve’s solo building in the background! It’s great to see Steve in a chatty mood too each song given its own intro with a story, he just seems so happy to be able to be up there playing.
The set ends with 'Camino Royal' and the always gut busting bass pedal driven 'Shadow of the Heirophant' including a very subtle bass solo from Jonas Reingold during which you could have heard a pin drop such was the attention of the crowd And with that set one is over.
A swift twenty minute break as people of a certain age just can’t sit for a full show these days haha. And on to the “main event“ an album heralded by many as a Prog masterpiece and I for one can’t argue with that as those opening keyboard chords and Craig Blundells’ military snare signal the start of 'Watcher Of The Skies'. Nad takes to the podium glowing red eyes and telescope in hand acting out his part. The band are incredible they just gel so well together and at the heart of it all is multi instrumentalist Rob Townsend on saxophones percussion keyboards and of course the unmistakeable flute which gave so many of the Genesis songs their unique sound.
It has to be said too that the sound engineer does a fantastic job on these gigs every instrument can be heard clearly in its rightful place and the lighting by Chris Curran is second to none bringing all of these songs to life each night. I’m not sure (without checking the history books) if 'Time Table' was actually played much live by Genesis but it’s here tonight with the wonderful play on words Gabriel often incorporated into the lyrics.
'Get Em Out By Friday', 'Can Utility' and 'The Coastliners' see out side one of the album just reminding you of why 'Foxtrot' is so lauded with praise. Nad certainly has his work cut out most tours but he takes these story driven tracks and makes them his own rather than trying to be Peter or Phil (with the later era tracks).
And so to side two the beautiful 'Horizons' Hacketts acoustic signature once again proving it doesn’t always have to be a million notes a minute to be brilliant gets us settled and ready for the beast that is. 'Suppers Ready' the 23 minute tale of good vs evil with its multi sections and time changes all leading to the “new Jerusalem“ in its finale.
I’ve seen Steve and the band perform this a few times over the tours and each time I think it can’t get better but it does it’s just astonishing from the opening line of “walking across the sitting room“ to the final notes of Steve’s guitar solo fading each member of that band puts in an absolute monster of a performance worthy of a standing ovation. But we’re not done yet no sir! I wondered when the tour was first announced if this would be the first in a long time where a certain song would be missing but as the band came back for an encore my thoughts were answered by Rogers piano intro and the glorious 'Firth of Fifth' filled the hall! Still for me the best guitar solo in Prog still played perfectly tonight!
One final workout for the band with a medley featuring 'Slogans' and 'Los Endos' once again giving everyone in the band a chance to shine with Rob Jonas and Steve together centre stage jamming it out while Craig absolutely batters the kit into submission.
Once again a triumph of a gig for Mr Hackett and his band keeping the music of the “Classic Line Up“ very much alive. No doubt he’s already planning what to do next even though this tour has only just begun but I am looking forward to it already whatever it may be.
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