Steve Hackett – Manchester O2 Apollo October 1st 2022

Steve Hackett – Manchester O2 Apollo October 1st 2022

6th October 2022 0 By George Simpson

Whilst the populist view of Genesis these days, is of their latter day hit laden time as a trio, to a great many people, before that,¬† they created¬† some of the finest prog rock music ever. Steve Hackett is, once again, touring to celebrate their 70’s output. However, this time there is an anniversary to celebrate. Their seminal 1972 album, Foxtrot is 50 years old this year, so is being played in it’s entirety tonight by the guitarist and his band.¬†

In the absence of a support act, the evening is split into two sets with an interval in between. The first focusses on Steve‘s solo material, whilst the second being the complete album performance and encore. Backed by a five piece band, tonight was a two hour plus prog extravaganza that flies by in no time at all.¬†

The seven song first part leans heavily on two albums, 1975’s Voyage of the Acolyte and Spectral Mornings from 1979. Five tracks being taken from them in total, with opener Ace Of Wands the first from the former. Opening with an instrumental certainly allows the band to show off their undoubted individual virtuosity from start, with Hackett front, centre stage throughout.¬†

Next up is the wonderfully gothic The Devil’s Cathedral from last year’s Surrender Of Silence, with vocalist Nad Sylvian making his first appearance of the evening. It’s a great song from a very strong album, and works superbly in a live setting.

It’s followed by two tracks from the fantastic Spectral Mornings album. Described as “the most optimistic thing i’ve ever written”, the title track certainly lives up to that billing. An uplifting instrumental, it gets a rapturous reception at it’s conclusion. Every Day is next up, a personal favourite of mine. It’s as close to a pop song as we hear tonight, though in particular, it’s the instrumental section of the song that really grabs me on record. However, tonight it’s on another level entirely and is the highlight of part one for me.¬†

In between songs, Steve is relaxed and chatty, sharing stories about the tracks they’re playing tonight. The first part of the set ends with two further visits to the Voyage of the Acolyte album, A Tower Struck Down and Shadow Of The Hierophant. Sandwiched in between them is Camino Royale from 1983’s Highly Strung album. Of course, it’s hard to please everyone with regards which songs are chosen from such a large back catalogue. However, he needn’t have worried as a standing ovation from the audience demonstrates.

After a short interval, we get the evenings main event. In spite of being a fifty year old album nowadays, tonight Foxtrot gets a lively, yet faithful rendition throughout. Powerful first track Watcher of The Skies immediately shows that things have stepped up a gear from the first half. Nad Sylvian provides a dramatic performance of lyrics that were once delivered by Peter Gabriel in his over the top, costume wearing pomp. Thankfully, he gives the fox mask and dress ensemble of the latter a miss tonight though! 

Consequently, we get a modern take on a seminal classic throughout. The more mellow Time Table and the gloriously bonkers Get ‘Em Out By Friday, once again get theatrical treatments. The audience is enthralled throughout. Judging by the demographic in attendance tonight, the vast majority have lived with this wonderful album throughout it’s five decade existence, and are loving every second of this.¬†

The acoustically driven Can-Utility and the Coastliners once again shows the virtuosity of the band. Bassist Jonas Reingold switches to guitar for this faultless rendition, before Hackett takes stooled centre stage for the short instrumental, Horizons. Often overlooked, mainly due to it’s sub two minute duration, this solo performance of it is just perfect.¬†

Then comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the truly wonderful, epically epic, prog rock tour de force that is Suppers¬† Ready. Tonight, it gets a slightly extended 25 minute rendition. As Steve jokes “it’d make a great single”. It really is a magical experience hearing this get performed live. It’s perfectly delivered, with keyboardist Roger King and multi- instrumentalist Rob Townsend working overtime to deliver all the many elements of the song perfectly. Nad‘s theatricality comes to the fore throughout its numerous movements. The real highlight for me is the mesmeric solo from Hackett that brings it to a close. Wow, just wow.¬†

Though, it would be impossible to top that, they return for an encore and give it a good go. The cheer that goes up as Firth of Fifth begins demonstrates what a great track it is, and always will be. The show ends in traditional Genesis fashion. An entertaining drum solo by Craig Blundell leads effortlessly into Los Endos, and before we know, the evening is sadly at an end. 

This is definitely going to be in the running as one of my best gigs of the year. The two hours plus flew by and undoubtedly left myself and the rest of the audience wanting more. Hopefully it won’t be long til we get more. After all next year is Selling England By The Pound‘s fiftieth anniversary, c’mon Steve, it’d be rude not to!¬†

Set list:

Set One

1 – Ace Of Wands

2 – The Devil’s Cathedral

3 – Spectral Mornings

4 – Every Day

5 – A Tower Struck Down

6 – Camino Royale

7 – Shadow Of The Hierophant

Set Two 

1 – Watcher Of The Skies

2 РTime Table 

3 – Get ’em Out By Friday

4 – Can-Utility And The Coastliners

5 – Horizons

6 – Supper’s Ready¬†

Encore

7 – Firth Of Fifth

8 – Los Endos

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