Genesis revisited and then some
It is no small achievement to see Steve Hackett returned to Manchester for a sold out show at the Bridgewater Hall, and although for some the fully seated venue took a little getting used to, it turned out to be the perfect venue to really appreciate the full spectrum of what he brings on stage.
Hackett is best known for his guitar work on some of the classic early Genesis albums and a large part of the draw tonight is the chance to hear some of the songs from that era played live. Hackett has continued to release solo albums however and the first half of the set tonight is devoted to material from those, starting with Everyday from the classic Spectral Mornings album. Watching Hackett play is something of a joy, he has a pretty unique style that never slips into overt soloing for the sake of it. His guitar work is always complimentary to the song, never sacrificing the tune to showcase his talent. That said, when he moves up a gear into a solo, it's both effortless and highly impressive.
There is a good mix of material from his back catalogue, The Steppes from Defector, Serpentine Song and Rise Again all impress, particularly the vocal harmonies, which are spot on throughout. Down in the stalls the only gripe is that the drum sound is largely missing from the p.a, making the overall sound a little thin. It's a little surprising that he didn't play more tracks from his new album The Night Siren but in hindsight the balance was probably right and he clearly knows how to keep the audience interested. Of the three tracks that were played it was El Nino that really stood out and allowed Hackett to show his skills on the fretboard with some really impressive lead work. The first set finishes with one of his best known solo tracks Shadow of the Hierophant in all its eleven minute plus glory; this really is a mesmerising track that just builds in intensity and rightly receives a rapturous response from the crowd.
The second set is largely drawn from the Genesis back catalogue, with a particular nod to the 40th anniversary of the Wind and Wuthering album. It's an often overlooked album (and perhaps for good reason) but it does contain a few gems and Hackett knows exactly what they are, delivering Eleventh Earl of Mar, One for the Vine and Blood on the Rooftops with the help of vocalist Nad Sylvan, who does an excellent job of covering both Gabriel and Collins era material.
This has already been a really good show and the inclusion of b-side Inside and Out gets many approving nods but when they play the Genesis classics Dance On A Volcano, Firth of Fifth and Musical Box it takes it to another level altogether. There is something undeniably special about hearing these songs live and particularly when it is the original guitarist that's playing them. The crowd go wild after each one and it really does become a joyous celebration by both band and audience. They return for an encore of Hackett solo track Slogans before Genesis instrumental Los Endos was a rather fitting end to the night. Hackett is both a great guitarist and a great songwriter and this was a pretty stunning performance all round, fully justifying the lengthy standing ovation at the end.