Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, 1st October 2018
“We have a slightly bigger band than normal,” quipped Steve Hackett, “and we’re going to do it properly!” The bigger band included The Heart Of England Orchestra and it was revisiting material from Steve’s time as the guitarist with the legendary Genesis up to the present. And this was the opening night of his 8-date Genesis Revisited Tour at the Royal Concert hall in Nottingham.
This is something Steve has dreamed of for many years, taking his music on tour with an orchestra, and he has been excited about, as he told me recently. “This is probably the one and only time I’ll ever tour with an orchestra – unless it goes so well! All these years down the line and suddenly you’ve got the chance to do 8 dates up and down the country, with 2 dates in London, with an orchestra plus a group. It’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”
The decision to undertake this tour was cemented following the critical success of last year’s one-off US performance of the Genesis Revisited music with his band and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the charismatic Bradley Thachuk, who made the journey to the UK for this tour.
The set opened with Dance On A Volcano from Genesis’ first post-Gabriel album A Trick Of The Tail and immediately set the tone for the evening. The orchestra adds power and depth to the music, something Steve had envisaged and longed for with his time in the band back in the 70s.
In front of the orchestra, Steve’s usual touring band are, themselves, all masters of their art, Jonas Reingold (bass and backing vocal), Roger King (keybords), Rob Townsend (sax, flute and percussion), Gary O’Toole (drums, percussion and backing vocals) and Nad Sylvan (lead vocals).
Steve quickly dipped into his extensive solo catalogue for Out Of The Body before returning to the classic Genesis Selling England tracks and Dancing with the Moonlit Knight and Firth Of Fifth. The effect of band with orchestra was quite magnificent and justified Steve’s vision of how Genesis’ music could, and should, sound.
The pace slowed as Steve switched to an acoustic guitar and a stool (I don’t recall him ever standing in Genesis days!). His delicate intro to Blood On The Rooftops was exquisite, complemented by a great vocal from Gary. To close the first set, Steve returned to his electric guitar for a shortened instrumental version of Shadow Of The Hierophant from his first solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte.
Having clearly enjoyed the experience as much as his audience Steve commented that it had been so much better than in rehearsals. “There’s a great atmosphere,” he said, “something that comes from the audience, not the stage.”
The second set began with …In That Quiet Earth leading, naturally, into Afterglow, more classic Genesis. Steve then stepped up to the microphone to take the lead vocal for Serpentine Song. “This isn’t a Genesis song,” he commented,” but it feels appropriate and it’s a bit of a pastoral song. My brother John is here tonight and this is a song about my dad, and his dad.”
Steve came right up to date for the next number, the instrumental El Nino, from his most recent album The Night Siren, before the finale and possibly the most iconic Genesis track of all, the epic Supper’s Ready. Acoustic guitar in hand, Steve reverted to his customary seated position for the early passages, switching to electric as the track progressed to the more powerful elements.
Here the orchestra came into it’s own, again creating an amazing depth to the sound, urged on by Bradley Thachuk. By the very nature of his position behind Steve, Bradley had his back to the audience for much of the evening, but as he turned to the side his face always beamed with the delight of what the orchestra was giving to the performance. My one slightly negative comment would be that these are all lyrically strong pieces and Nad is a great vocalist but he was occasionally lost in the mix and difficult to hear in the more powerful moments. Perhaps it mattered not, as everyone in the audience knew the words and it became a triumphant sing-a-long!
Of course, Steve, his band and the orchestra would not be allowed to leave without an encore and what better than another early classic, The Musical Box. This time Nad’s vocal seemed more prominent and it proved a triumphant conclusion to a wonderful night.
Audiences for the remaining dates are going to witness a slice of history and a night that will live long into the memory.
Dance on A Volcano
Out Of The Body
Firth Of Fifth
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Blood On The Rooftops
Shadow Of The Hierophant
…In That Quiet Earth
The Musical Box