Steve Hackett @ The Lowry
It was 11pm on 24th October 1978 and a 15 year old me, sat in the middle of the 5th row at the Apollo had just been blown away by a performance by ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. Fast forward 37 years and one day and I am once again walking out of a Steve Hackett show and equally blown away by the performance of his solo work in this a return for him to the Lowry for what was described as From Acolyte to Wolflight and a sprinkling of Genesis.
Hackett opened the show with magical Spectral Mornings accompanied by just Roger King on keyboards and the powerhouse drumming of Garry O’Toole, the light show working intricately with the music. The rest of the main band, Roine Stolt from The Flower Kings primarily on bass but also some guitar and Rob Townsend on flute/clarinet/keyboards entered the stage for Out Of The Body and Wolflight from his latest album. A quick look back again for a punchy Everydayand it was back to his recent release for Wheels Turning using the Lowry’s surround sound for the seaside introduction, and Loving Sea which intriguingly featured members of the Warrington BSL Signing Choir providing a interesting visual accompaniment.
His brother John joined him on stage, playing flute, for a beautiful acoustic performance of Jacuzzi after which it was back into the Hackett archives to blow the dust off some more solo material, namely Icarus Ascending featuring the vocal talents of Nad Sylvan who was able to replicate Richie Havens perfectly, a singer who is sadly missed. For a couple more friends of his who passed away this year, namely Chris Squire and Jim Diamond, he dedicated Star of Sirius to which the audience responded warmly. This seamlessly segued into Ace Of Wands followed by the heavy rock of Tower Struck Down played with absolute gusto by the band and finally the closer of the first set – Shadow Of The Hierophant. Absolute class, this was a serious journey back in time for me.
The second set was all Genesis material and I understand why he plays it, bums on seats! Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s he was playing much smaller venues and doesn’t want to go back to that so this is a compromise. And this is where it becomes a problem for me as I am not a big Genesis fan, I would much rather have a full evening of Hackett’s solo material, but that is not to be…
His choice of material for this half was interesting and some of it would really appeal to the total aficionados. Get ’Em Out By Friday was note perfect, Nad Sylvan’s vocals tweaked to replicate Peter Gabriel’s, close your eyes and it was a real doppelganger! Can-Utility And The Coastliners, After The Ordeal and Aisle of Plenty were the sort of quirky, humourous Genesis pieces that would appeal to Hackett and much of the audience, but they did nothing for me although they did sound considerably fresher than the original studio recordings. On the other side of the coin The Cinema Show (a combination of a love song and a high intensity musical workout), The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway along with The Musical Box were on point, perfectly presented and a sheer joy to listen and watch the performances of. A standing ovation at the end was well deserved.
For the encore Hackett delved back into his solo material for Clocks – Angel Of Mons with its deep bass synth reverberating around the theatre and its simple effective riff, combining it with a quick but monstrous drum solo from O’Toole, provided a more than fitting finale. The final piece of the evening was another note perfect presentation of the Genesis classic Firth of Fifth which the crowd fully embraced.
With the rest of Genesis pretty much retired, and Gabriel doing his own thing, this is as close as you are going to get to one of their gigs but the inclusion of fourteen songs from Hackett’s solo material made this another stellar show.
Words: Anthony Firmin | Photos: Mike Ainscoe