CD Review – Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited Live – Seconds Out & More

“I’m so happy to release my Seconds Out & More show… A spectacular night with a band on fire tearing into that magic music combining the true spirit of Genesis with a fresh virtuosic approach and an extraordinary sound under amazing lights. This show is a feast for both ears and eyes. The best of so many worlds!”

How can you follow that? Not only does the bloke release an astonishingly rich and sumptuous album that celebrates a golden era of his former band and also breathtakingly speeds through his own back catalogue including near present day material – but he only goes and reviews it himself! What’s left to say?!

So I say – how about we wallow in nostalgia awhile? First things first, I metaphorically went back to my old vinyl copy. Still there, squeezed in after ‘Wind & Wuthering ‘ and before the lesser played ‘And then there were three…’. It’s well travelled,  not only from my adult travels, but from the frequent visits to school, visibly tucked under my arm, swapped with mates in an effort to convert them from their punkish tendencies. I remember I saw it as a ‘best of’, a slightly sanitised version particularly of the Gabriel era songs. Back then I didn’t have opportunity to go to gigs, so just had to play it loud and imagine….

And that’s what Hackett does reverently for us. He treats us first to a selection of his own material where he effortlessly blends concert favourites with impressive new album debuts. Our appetite whetted, we prepare for the aural feast…..

The ‘Kashmir-esque’ opening heralds ‘Squonk’, robust drumming propelling it along as we savour the shimmering guitar and rich keyboard interplay. It was a great opener then. It still is today. Roger King effortlessly replicates what we once thought of as the irreplaceable Tony Banks sounds. Nad Sylvan’s voice still manages to be a convincing hybrid of Collins and Gabriel. First thoughts? Wasn’t the original album less dynamic? Compressed? Blurred? Lacking the peaks and troughs of the album version? As dull as my memories? Not this time round. Excellent recording enables us to hear it all, to ride those waves of sound, to relive the highs and lows of the tricky tale.

‘The Carpet Crawlers ‘ (we always drop ‘the’, don’t we – love the attention to detail) is as lush as ever with Hackett’s plaintive guitar melody line ringing clear. ‘Robbery, Assault and Battery’ deserves mention as one of those album songs often relegated in stature due to it’s storytelling, like ‘Mouse’s Night’, ‘Get ’em out’ or Harold the Barrel’ were. However, check out how tricksy it was, the instrumental action – and how well the band plays it, albeit Sylvan rightly doesn’t try to replicate Collins’ Artful Dodger dramatic range. ”Afterglow’ warmly and faithfully closes original LP side 1.

It’s good to hear the classic ‘Firth of Fifth’ in it’s entirety, with King effortlessly replicating that unique piano intro. And he manages equally to draw out all the Banksian textures throughout.. And of course Hackett still draws out every ounce of feeling from his legendary guitar section. That’ll have been worth the entrance fee alone. What we get next is ja2-droppingly good. The original live ‘I know what I like’ became a favourite for allowing us to see and hear Collins’ physical dexterity with tambourine and then the gloriously improvisational yet ridiculously tight Banks and Hackett interactions climaxing with the pinnacle of the  ‘Stagnation’ section. This time round, it gets an eminently suitable jazz swing that’s equally infectious and allows some superb interaction, with Townsend licking more than a very friendly dog. Nice. 

Worth mentioning too how clearly Reingold’s replication of Rutherford’s important bass lines come through the mix, no more so than on the excellent rendition of ‘The Lamb’. I remember enjoying the segue from that into the closing section of ‘Musical Box’ (although the full track would have been preferred). Seems a little perfunctory here to replicate that ending here as a standalone, as classically impressive as it remains.

And so to ‘Supper’s Ready ‘. Then? Wow. Now? Wow! Personally there was a period of time when I preferred the original Second’s Out version to the album version on Foxtrot. I liked the smoothness, the easy transitions (no jarring mellotron for example) and gentle fade. I didn’t miss the lack of flute, for example. But here, on the Hackett version, Rob Townsend really does add an extra dimension. And whilst the judges are still out on the extended Hackett closing guitar, I fully understand how it might work live. An excellent team performance!

It’s good to have the full ‘The Cinema Show’ leading into ‘ Aisle of Plenty’ – that wasn’t so difficult was it, and kudos to Roger King for the keyboard heavy track. And talking of kudos, more to the band for incorporating Defector-era ‘Slogans’ into ‘Dance on a Volcano/Los Endos’. I could sense a celebratory looseness coming into the music by now – unsurprising really. But an awesome end to an awesome evening of music.

It only remains for me to comment on the intro set. Hackett can really draw on some excellent material past and present, and I fully understand the argument that there is sometimes a potential over-playing of Genesis material at the cost of his own. But what you do get of his own is outstanding. New songs ‘Held in the Shadows’ amd ‘’The Devil’s Cathedral’ sit easily in the set, even if the immense ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ looms large, it’s aforementioned shadow something to live up to. The boss said it and I’ll repeat it: @ This show is a feast…..the best of so many worlds

CD 1

1. Apollo Intro (1:02)

2. Clocks – The Angel of Mons (4:17)

3. Held in the Shadows (7:09)

4. Every Day (6:12)

5. The Devil’s Cathedral (5:56)

6. Shadow of the Hierophant (10:49)

7. Squonk (6:29)

8. The Carpet Crawlers (5:50)

9. Robbery, Assault and Battery (5:57)

10. Afterglow (3:51)

11. Firth of Fifth (9:58)

CD 2

12. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (8:20)

13. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (5:10)

14. Musical Box (closing section) (2:51)

15. Supper’s Ready (24:49)

16. The Cinema Show (10:35)

17. Aisle of Plenty (2:03)

18. Dance on a Volcano (4:24)

19. Los Endos (6:35)

Bonus available on DVD and Blu-ray:

20. Behind the Scenes Documentary (26:17)

21. Wingbeats Official Video (5:21)

22. Fox’s Tango Official Video (4:21)

23. Natalia Official Video (6:17)

24. Scorched Earth Official Video (6:02)

Band

Steve Hackett – guitars

Roger King – keyboards

Jonas Reingold – bass

Rob Townsend – saxophones, flutes

Craig Blundell – drums & percussion

Nad Sylvan – vocals

With guest:

Amanda Lehmann – guitar, vocals

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