Live Review: Steve Hackett ‘Genesis Revisited’ Band with Orchestra at the London Palladium (11/10/18)

Legendary prog virtuoso and former Genesis guitarist (1971-1977), Steve Hackett started his Genesis Revisited tribute project in 1996: an 11-track studio album which features Genesis’ songs while Hackett was on board. Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), Pino Palladino (D’Angelo, The Who) and John Wetton (U.K., Asia) are amongst the collaborating performers of this record.

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Genesis Revisited (1996)

Eighteen years later, Hackett released a longer 21-track second tribute album, Genesis Revisited II (2012). In the same fashion as Genesis Revisited, many distinguished prog musicians took part in the recording of the tribute sequel: Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Kajagoogoo), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) and Steve Rothery (Marillion), to name just a few. Two live albums followed, Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith (2013) and Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2014).

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Genesis Revisited II (2012)

Steve is constantly on the move. He played 62 concerts in 2017 and 50 in 2018 – up to this very moment, that is. Furthermore, he has 52 dates planned for 2019, a very special year for Genesis enthusiasts as he will be playing the entire Selling England by the Pound (1973) plus solo album Spectral Mornings (1979). [Tickets for 2019 performances are available now. Click here to book your favourite(s) date(s)].

Why so orchestral? Hackett gathered his band and 41-piece The Heart of England Orchestra for a very short 8-date UK tour. Following the significant success of the Genesis Revisited US performance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (directed by Bradley Thachuk), Steve determined that more shows would come along with an orchestral setup. In fact, Bradley Thachuk was appointed to conduct all 8 UK dates!

Thursday, the 11th October 2018. The eighth and last date of the tour. The Palladium’s entrance lightened up with a digital Hackett portrait. Fans with varied tour t-shirts stopped to take a picture. It appeared like an enchanted castle in the form of a theatre, whose sovereign long-haired king was about to awe all attendees with expert musicians.

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The Grand London Palladium

Let the show begin: 7.30pm – the lights went off. The show began with ‘Dance on a Volcano’, the first track of A Trick of the Tail (1976), the first Genesis album after Peter Gabriel’s departure. It truly seemed like the violins were an extension of Steve’s notes and chords. After such a brilliant introduction into the Genesis Revisited performance, two songs from Hackett’s solo albums followed: ‘Out of the Body’ (Wolflight, 2015) offered a fantastic display of the potent and very sentimental capabilities of the 41-piece orchestra; and ‘The Steppes’ (Defector, 1980) whose drums’ reverb, brilliantly rendered by Gary O’Toole, was just on point to create an aura of oriental mystery.

Selling the Palladium by the Classics: Steve knows what the fans like (in his concerts), so two Selling England By The Pound (1973) ensued: first, ‘Firth of Fifth’, a nine-minute track which opens with a solo piece for piano that is afterwards rearranged as a guitar solo, perfect for Steve’s charms; and ‘Dancing with the Moonlit Knight’, the perfect chance for lead vocalist Nad Sylvan to shine. Not only he nailed it with his majestic voice, but he also offered a terrific arrangement in the flesh. Furthermore, the orchestra’s violins, teaming up with Rob Townsend’s flute, confronted Steve’s agile notes.

Olé: a Spanish guitar was handed to Steve. ‘Olé!’, responded someone amongst the public. And so ‘Blood On The Rooftops’ (Wind & Wuthering, 1976) commenced. A crystal clear, powerful voice engulfed the stage, but Nad Sylvan was nowhere to be found. Besides, the limelight did not emphasize any member of the band. It took a few moments to realise that drummer Gary O’Toole was the one in charge of voicing the track. Gary fused drumming at the correct pace with immaculate singing. A very impressive rendition indeed.

Tears [of joy] fill the seats: it was the turn of ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ (Voyage of the Acolyte, 1975), the last song before the 20-minute break. Voyage of the Acolyte is Hackett’s first studio album, recorded and released whilst still a full member of Genesis. The talented Amanda Lehmann joined the stage with a very shiny red guitar. More than eleven minutes long, ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ was truly one of the highlights of the evening, a magnificent orchestral sonata in perfect harmony with the revolutionary polyrhythm of Gary O’Toole’s drumkit.

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After that quiet break, ‘In That Quiet Earth’ and ‘Afterglow’ (Wind & Wuthering, 1976) opened the second set with the orchestra in the spotlight. Jonas Reingold (bass guitar) and Gary O’Toole (drums) were Nad’s high-pitched backup vocals.Family reunion followed up when brother John Hackett came on stage for ‘Serpentine Song’ (To Watch the Storms, 2003), “a song dedicated to two Peters: Peter Hackett, our dad, who taught us music; and Peter Pan”, admitted the guitarist Hackett. A very sentimental track, especially with John’s heavenly flute. ‘I want to marry you!’, shouted a woman in the grand circle. The cute moment vanished when ‘El Niño’ (The Night Siren, 2017) began, summoning a tense, soundtrack-like ambience.

The End’s Ready: returning to the acoustic Spanish guitar, Steve paired up with the violin section to introduce ‘Supper’s Ready’ (Foxtrot, 1972). Fans could not hold their enthusiasm and burst into heavy claps. Subtle kettledrums played an important role in the song’s first minutes. The orchestra proposed a very solemn approach. Nad Sylvan did an excellent job sounding very familiar and exotic at the same time, adding enthusiasm and quirkiness to a rather serious stage; he resembled a troubadour! After ‘Supper’s Ready’ Steve left, as it was “past his bedtime”… but finally returned for the fabulous ‘The Musical Box’ (Nursery Cryme, 1971), a perfectly balanced farewell song.

All in all, the show rejoiced in rhythmic lighting patterns; top-notch sound engineering; familiar but connoisseur tunes; and ingenious inspiring artists.

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