Reviews

Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights Swansea Arena – Review


Steve Hackett
Genesis Revisited Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights
Swansea Arena 9th September 2022 – Review

This was Steve Hackett’s first time at the newly opened Swansea Arena and it was an honour that he chose it to kick off his latest UK tour, the Genesis Revisited Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights Tour 2022. 

The tour takes the form of 25 dates throughout September and October, covering the length and breadth of the UK. The band taking the stage tonight are very familiar to Hackett fans worldwide, we have the wonderful Nad Sylvan on Lead Vocals, stalwarts Rob Townsend on Woodwind, Sax, Keyboards and backing vocals and Roger King on Keyboards with Jonas Reingold on Bass, Guitars and Backing Vocals and the excellent Craig Blundell on Drums.

I am really looking forward to seeing Time Table, Get ‘Em Out By Friday and Can-utility and The Coastliners performed live. I have been lucky enough to catch both Genesis and Steve Hackett live on many an occasion, but I’ve never seen these ‘Foxtrot’ classics given the ‘live’ treatment.

The lights go down in the Arena and Steve and the band walk onto the stage to tremendous applause. Steve announces that they would usually enter the stage to loud music etc and then start the first half of the set, but tonight, out of respect to the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the band will do things a little differently.

First track is the title track from Hackett’s third solo album, 1979’s Spectral Mornings, the band are faultless in their delivery of this little gem. Back in time next, for the excellent ‘Ace Of Wands’. The Swansea crowd supportive in the addition of this rarely played track. The ‘Hackett Highlights’ section continues with ‘The Devil’s Cathedral’ from Steve’s most recent solo album ‘Surrender of Silence’, where we are joined by long time Genesis Revisited vocalist, Nad Sylvan. Rob Townsend gets the chance to take centre stage here, with some amazing interplay between sax and guitar. I hope that this number stays in the set for years to come as it really does let the musicians shine.

Steve tells us about the demise of his first girlfriend as part of the introduction to ‘Everyday’. I love that Steve seems so relaxed up there and is willing to share little stories like this. This is followed by the ever urgent ‘A Tower Struck Down’, a track where Steve informs us that brother John wrote the heavier riff. Jonas Reingold’s bass playing is simply astounding throughout this number and Craig Blundell’s drumming just leaves you breathless.

Then we get a real treat in the form of 1983’s ‘Camino Royale’. Another number that gets lifted to new heights given the Hackett live treatment. The tight instrumental introduction slaps you in the face with it’s power. Steve’s vocals are so much improved since the time of this tracks inception all those years ago.

Steve announces that the next track is the last before the break. He introduces it as an excerpt from ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’. I can only assume that when Amanda Lehmann joins the tour, you will get the full version. Nonetheless, this is a brilliant version, the whole band play out of their skins as this epic builds and builds. Jonas hitting those bass pedels like there’s no tomorrow, Roger King commanding the keyboards and Oh My God, Craig Blundell, I am so impressed with his drumming, but on this track, he is a powerhouse. The band get a standing ovation, what a way to end the first half.

Break time over and we are (nearly) all seated as the lights go down and Roger King plays the first notes of ‘Foxtrot’s’ ‘Watcher of the Skies’. Is it really 50 years old? The crowd are instinctively estatic as the rest of the band join in. Nad is back, telescope in hand and we’re off. Faithfully played to the original and expertly delivered, Nad Sylvan relishing the chance to become the ‘watcher’ with dramatic effect. ‘Time Table’ is next, possibly the least popular track on Foxtrot, this Tony Banks number about Kings and Queens and lost ideals, sounds delightful with Roger King’s simple sounding piano work leading the charge. Such a pleasure to be able to see this track live.

‘Get ‘Em Out By Friday’ is perfect for the Hackett live formula and the band really do it justice. The theatrics of the story telling are all here, Rob Townsend’s flute work is sublime with the Swansea audience very appreciative of this talented musician. My personal favourite from Foxtrot is next, ‘Can-utility and the Coastliners’. Again this is played to such a high standard, the instrumental break around the 2 minute mark has always given me goosebumps and to actually catch it played live, puts me in my element. 

A chair is brought forward and Steve tells us that he had considered to use an electric guitar on the next track, but opted to stay true to the original acoustic, as he sits down and performs ‘Horizons’. 

The crowd applaud as the chair is removed and the band take their places for the epic that is ‘Supper’s Ready’. Each section of this 23 minute masterpiece is lovingly played and sung along by both band and audience, the quality of the musicians in evidence as they seamlessly move from section to section, accomplishing note for note perfection on this complicated work. The Arena is at one with the band and it is a joy to witness.

There is another standing ovation that seems to go on forever as the band leave the stage. Chants of “More!” and “Encore!” are soon changed to cheers of delight as the band return to the stage.

Steve thanks the audience and introduces the next song as “One from the the album before my time with that band I was in, but one that is a joy to play live”. We are then treated to ‘The Knife’. My word, this is amazing live. The power, the heaviness, the drama, such a great number and expertly played. This is then followed by Roger King playing the intro to ‘Firth Of Fith’.  The audience goes wild as the band play through this wonderful epic. The amazing guitar solo bringing goosebumps as Steve hits those notes with the precision that only a master can convey. He has that beautiful ability to make you feel that he is playing to you and you alone.

The song is over and the band get another standing ovation but, alas, this time it is farewell. 

Talking to people as we were leaving, it was obvious that the band had clearly impressed. I have seen Steve a number of times and this is high on the list of one of his best performances. The tour moves on to Cardiff and beyond and I can whole-heartedly recommend that you catch this band. You will not be sorry.

Review by Pete Devine 

Photos by Julie Devine

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