|Steve Hackett - London, Shepherds Bush Empire - 30th November 2010|
|Written by Mark Taylor|
|Wednesday, 05 January 2011 05:00|
You have to feel for fans of Genesis. For some years now they've been praying for a full-scale re-union and the never-ending question of "will they, won't they", had seemingly been ignored by all parties. Then earlier this year drummer Phil Collins announced his probable retirement from the music scene ahead of the release of his latest solo album 'Going Back and you started to wonder will this ever happen again? For now at least the diehards may have to make do with some guy in a gorilla suit advertising chocolate, whilst Mike Rutherford busies himself calling out his Mechanics and Peter Gabriel sells England by the pound for the WOMAD cause.
There is however one very good reason for Genesis fans to rejoice right now, and that is the fact that original guitarist Steve Hackett is back, and flying the Prog Rock flag at full mast. Having already played some critically acclaimed shows in 2009 and also played a very well received set at this year's High Voltage Festival, in support of his new album 'Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth'. Steve Hackett was back for round two of this tour, which saw him playing the Shepherds Bush Empire for the second time in just over a year. This time however he was also promoting the 'Live Rails' CD recorded on this current tour and with a title like that this surely must have the makings of a great set list that won't be left in the sidings.
So tonight winter has decided to kick in along with the first signs of snow, but many have braved the weather to be here on time for a two-hour show. Outside it is so cold that you could kajagoogoo's in the frost and who is that on stage playing bass? Why none other than Nick Beggs, who is most definitely not too shy shy showing us the wonders of his Chapman Stick. This is the second time I've seen Nick Beggs in action, first time being alongside John Paul Jones at this very same venue so I was fully aware of his skilful showmanship and tonight he was dressed like a gothic undertaker. But I must make it clear that this band is most certainly not simply Steve Hackett and a gang of hired guns. Hackett has surrounded himself here with some top class musicians and if you brought your girlfriend along, or someone who would normally only go to a Whitesnake gig then they would have difficulty in knowing which one is indeed Hackett himself, such is the band vibe onstage. Also worth noting within the band is the fretwork from the highly-strung Amanda Lehman who is also more than a little pleasing on the eye. Also Gary O'Toole is almost hidden behind his wall of a drum kit whilst provided the vocals for many of the songs tonight including those that were once fronted by the aforementioned Mr Collins.
With an opening set of musical landscapes that would soon take us on a long enjoyable journey it was the Genesis foxtrot of 'Watcher Of The Skies' that raised the first gasps of the evening followed by another gem by his former band in the shape of 'The Carpet Crawlers'. From Steve's debut solo album ' Voyage Of The Acolyte' recorded whilst he was still in his then day job, came 'Shadow Of The Hierophant' which featured a guest appearance from a barefooted Steve Wilson from Porcupine Tree who wallowed in playing out the guitar solo for the climax of this epic number. New material like 'Fire On The Moon', 'Emerald And Ash' and 'Tubehead' sit comfortably anywhere in his giant back catalogue. 'Blood On The Rooftops' meanwhile was greeted by loud applause, and is a welcome addition to the set as Genesis refused to play this Hackett penned song live.
Former King Crimson and back in Asia again frontman John Wetton joined proceedings for a run through 'All Along The Watchtower', and for me this felt a little out of place in this set, and surely it must have only been included to add a bit of interest for the DVD that was being recorded of tonight's show. Encore time and Steve Hackett played a sublime solo in 'Firth Of Fifth' whilst Rob Townsend the sax/flute/tambourine player demonstrated that all proggers do in fact have a sense of humour by not slipping up whilst shaking a banana (Not that many noticed exactly what he had in his hand mind you...nice one.) With time ticking away 'Clocks' ended the night with more help from Steve Wilson who brought this show to a glorious conclusion.
Set list: Valley Of The King / Every Day / Emerald And Ash / The Golden Age Of Steam / Watcher Of The Skies / Carpet Crawlers / Fire On The Moon / Ace Of Wands / Shadow Of The Hierophant / Sierra Quemada / Darkness In Men's Hearts / Blood On The Rooftops / Tubehead / Sleepers /All Along The Watchtower / Still Waters / Prairie Angels / Los Endos.....Encores.. Firth Of Fifth / Clocks