Innovative guitarist Steve Hackett and his band of supremely accomplished musicians brings to life the majestic music of mid-70s Genesis at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre.
Genesis only ever made it to Australia once, in 1986 – years after guitarist Steve Hackett and singer Peter Gabriel had left the band. So Steve is making it up to fans by once again bringing a whole lot of Genesis magic to Australian shores with an imperious performance of two genre-defining classics in their entirety: 1977’s double live album Seconds Out – the final Genesis record upon which Hackett appeared – and the impeccable Selling England By the Pound (1973) LP. For many Genesis fans, these albums represent the very best the band had to offer.
Last night’s gig at Melbourne’s iconic Palais Theatre, Hackett and his and top-notch 5-piece band treated the audience to some of Genesis’ most memorable moments. They stayed faithful to the original arrangements while fleshing them out with additional instrumentation. From nuanced sensitivity to dramatic progressive rock, this was all about creative musicianship, while immersing us in English eccentricity and intricate songcraft, Hackett and his band effortlessly delivered delicate prose, wondrous melodies, and of course, the soaring lead guitar of our hero always at the centre of their universe.
Playing a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop for the majority of the show, Hackett’s consummate playing is awe inspiring and never flashy, full of texture and atmosphere ahead of showiness or extended soloing.
The show was divided into two parts. The first half of the performance was Second’s Out, which was a special choice as it highlights material lifted from several classic albums in the Genesis canon up to 1977 – perhaps that’s why Steve chose it.
A hugely successful double album at the time, it was recorded on their concert tour in support of 1976’s very good Wind & Wuthering album, and featured Hackett on guitar alongside Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins, who had taken on the role of lead vocalist following the departure of Peter Gabriel. The tour also marked Steve’s final recordings with the band as he left to pursue an expansive solo career.
Opening with a series of Genesis classics from Squonk, The Carpet Crawlers and an exquisite version of Afterglow, it was on the beloved The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Foxtrot’s 23-minute magnum opus Supper’s Ready where vocalist Nad Sylvan really shined, bringing the material’s subtle tones and deep emotions to life, with a voice full of character, not far removed from Peter Gabriel’s, without trying to draw unnecessary attention or take away from Hackett’s incendiary guitar work.
The second half featured the entire Selling England By the Pound album in order, opening with Dancing with The Moonlit Knight through an extended take on I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), both of which were superb renditions, the latter featuring Steve stretching out on guitar, as well as a remarkable sax solo from multi-instrumentalist Rob Townsend.
Simply magnificent versions of landmarks Firth of Fifth and Cinema Show followed, both songs pivotal in Hackett’s significant Genesis contribution, and found Roger King replicating Tony Banks’ keyboard virtuosity, and sound, to brilliant effect. A thunderous Craig Blundell drum solo was included in the Dance on a Volcano encore which segued into one of the greatest musical pieces used to end a concert … Los Endos, before the band lined up to receive extended and rapturous applause. Tonight some of the best ever Genesis material was performed respectfully, but also not slavishly, and it was a wonderful thing to witness this essential music so alive again.