Steve Hackett and his Genesis Revisited collective provide a timely reminder of his former band’s glories, Getintothis’ Mike Torpey reflects on the first of two not to be missed Philharmonic dates.
Next time someone asks what the Prog Rock thing was all about, there’s a simple answer.
Just tell them to listen to Supper’s Ready by Genesis, or The Musical Box for that matter, or Watcher of the Skies. The list is near endless.
It won’t register first time, nor the second or third, but once they appreciate that – bar a few notable exceptions – these are way more than just three-minute pop tunes, they’ll be hooked.
Masters of the genre when prog was at its 1970s peak were Genesis, fronted by the flamboyant Peter Gabriel and featuring the virtuoso guitar work of Steve Hackett.
Hackett joined Genesis in early 1971 staying with the band from its recording of the Victoriana-feel Nursery Cryme through to the Wind & Wuthering album six years later.
And his Genesis Revisited show marks the first time any original former member of Genesis has toured the band’s repertoire from that classic period.
The tour also supports the Genesis Revisited II double CD release in which Hackett uses a host of musicians in putting together two 73-minute discs comprising 21 Genesis songs.
Among them is Swedish heavy metal man Nad Sylvan, whose haunting vocals bear a spooky resemblance to Gabriel himself.
The tour band comprises six outstanding performers – Hackett and Lee Pomeroy on guitars, Roger King on keyboards, Gary O’Toole at the drum kit and occasional vocals, Rob Townsend on flute, sax and penny whistle plus the almost mystical figure of Sylvan drifting on and off the stage.
The dramatic organ and bass intro to Watcher of the Skies brought a sell-out Philharmonic crowd instantly to its feet as Hackett delivered a blend of classics and lesser known Genesis songs that spanned his years in the group.
Steve Hackett live at Liverpool Philharmonic
Chamber of 32 Doors, from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, demonstrated the range of Sylvan’s voice; Dancing With Moonlit Knight – complete with flashing pastoral stage backdrop – the lyrical wit of the Gabriel era and The Musical Box the accelerating power of the band.
Venues like the Phil with its superior acoustics are ideal for Hackett and Fly on a Windshield with Pomeroy’s pounding bass melded into Broadway Melody of 1974 and The Lamia highlighted the flute playing of Townsend at its finest.
Steve Hackett and Gary O’Toole at the drum kit live at the Philharmonic
The hit single I Know What I Like found Sylvan sounding like a mix of Gabriel and Phil Collins before renditions of Dance On A Volcano, Entangled and Eleventh Earl of Mar heralded the epic 23-minute Supper’s Ready, with its phases of rock, prog, classical and vaudeville, to close the main show ahead of encores Firth of Fifth and the appropriate Los Endos.
Reminding the audience that Liverpool is the home of rock ‘n roll and that “there’s no better place to be,” Hackett pledged to return.
He’s been genuinely flattered by the response to the tour, so has put on extra dates in the autumn – which sees a repeat performance at the Phil on October 29. It is not to be missed.
Genesis Revisited live at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool
Photography by Mark Lloyd.