Concert Reviews

Christmas Comes Early For London with Steve Hackett

Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer.

The RBS Theatre in Budweiser Gardens is a lovely venue. It has the standard exceptional Budweiser experience of a full show with grand lights and beautiful sound but also has the intimate quality of a smaller venue. There isn’t a bad seat in the house. No matter where you sit you feel like you have a near front row ticket. No seat is far from the performer. 

On Saturday November 28, 2015 this performer was Steve Hackett, former guitarist (1970-1977) of the band Genesis.  Singer/songwriter Hackett worked on six studio albums with the band and released his first solo album “Voyage of the Acolyte” (40th anniversary of this album) in 1975. He also co-founded the supergroup GTR with guitarist Steve Howe from YES. After leaving GTR he resumed his solo career in 1987.  In 2010 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of Genesis. 

 Steve is on tour named “Acolyte to Wolflight with Genesis Revisited – The Total Experience” is to support his new album “Wolflight”, released in April 2015. We have the pleasure of having this guitar icon in Canada for four dates after which he returns to the USA. Speaking of the USA, my wife and I (who was photographing the show) had heard there were a number of fans up from the states. Walking through the parking lot we noticed license plates from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Illinois. 

The show started at 7:30 which seemed early at first. However we soon found out this early start was needed as the show was just shy of three hours! It included two sets, intermission and encore.  What a musical feast! Steve Hackett falls into the bracket of some of the other large groups who want to give their dedicated fans a show of 300%.

The evening started off with the lights going down and a recording of “Corycian Fire”, one of the six songs off his new release “Wolflight” that was played during his first set. The first piece “Spectral Mornings” started off with Hackett, Roger King (keyboardist) and Gary O’Toole (drummer/vocals) on stage. Later to be joined by Rob Townsend (sax/flute/percussion). During the next song, “Out of the Body” bass /guitarist/vocalist Roine Stolt was the next addition as the sound expanded. 

After the title track “Wolflight”, Hackett did his hellos, introduced the band and described how the evening would progress.   Then Hackett said, ‘from one Londoner to a bunch of Londoners’ as he went on to perform “Every Day”. Two more tracks “Love Song to a Vampire” and “The Wheels Turning”.

Musically, this band was sensational. They would jump from one theme to another flawlessly within a piece of music. The highlight moments for each member of the band were short and sweet and left you wanting more. They were tasteful and placed perfectly and fortunately there was always another just around the corner. There was no 20 minute wanking solos, just beautifully laid out pieces of art. Not only is Hackett’s music a musician’s dream to experience it was a delight to all the hard core fans of Hackett and Genesis. 

For a change of pace, Hackett was handed one of the best 12 string guitars I have ever heard. The sound emulating from the speakers from that guitar, driven by Hackett’s fingers, filled the entire place. The addition of the band was icing on the cake. Not needed but a gracious addition. 

Hackett told everyone that he had the pleasure of working with Richie Havens in 1977, dedicated the next song “Icarus Standing” to him and introduced his guest singer Nad Sylvan.

Sylvan is a great addition to this group of monster musicians! He is theatrical and showy like he was performing Shakespeare on a vampire’s stage. His vocals were a great fit. In the second half of the show he covered both Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins vocal parts.  

At one point during the first set, Hackett told a story of coming to Canada and living in Vancouver with his parents in 1957. He also wished Phil Collins all the best and speedy recovery back to health. 

Watching this band is like watching a musical Cirque Du Soleil. Each musician is like a band unto themselves. Drummer Gary O’Toole was an amazing force driving the band. I was sitting on the edge of my seat just watching him during the final song “Shadow of the Hierophant” of the first set. 

*** 15 min Intermission***

The second set covered Genesis material from 1970-1977, this was the era where Hackett was part the band. Starting off the set were two cuts from the album “Foxtrot”, “Get’em Out by Friday” and “Can-Utility and the Coastliners”.  For album “Selling England by the Pound” lovers there were was three songs, “After the Ordeal”, “The Cinema Show” and “Aisle of Plenty”. During the segment you would see bassist Roine Stolt changing from bass to lead guitar during the songs. He was either changing instruments or using his bass/guitar double neck. Hackett played some amazing classical guitar during “After the Ordeal”. 

The set ended with “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and “The Musical Box” from the album “Nursery Cryme”.  The encore featured a drum solo in “Clocks – The Angel of Mons” and closed with “Firth of Fifth”.

All in all, an amazing show. Definitely a concert to add to your repertoire! I was also great to see the photographic freedom the photographers were given courtesy of the band and Budweiser Gardens. For this show, they were permitted to shoot the entire first set. Very seldom is this freedom given. For me the highlight of the evening was the first set. I like Genesis but Steve Hackett has grown so much over the years and his music shows it!    

And we’d like to thank Bethany Wood, Marketing Coordinator for Budweiser Gardens, for media access and always being pleasant and helpful!

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.