Steve Hackett is prolific as never before, both in the studio as on stage.
As part of the tour accompanying the release of his new album The night siren he played
two easily sold-out nights in the number one prog venue in The Netherlands, de Boerderij in Zoetermeer.
Yet the audience reacted rather modest, almost shy when the band took the stage exactly on time.
It was almost as if we were all wondering that we would be really experiencing a gig
by that legendary guitarist here in this very nice but rather small venue.
That changed rapidly when Everyday was launched, one of his best solo songs and
certainly a worthy opener for what would become another night to remember.
Hackett had brought along the band he has been playing with the last couple of years,
so with Roger King on piano and keyboards, Rob Townsend on everything that can be blown
upon as well as percussion and keys, Nick Beggs on bass (wearing a kilt and boots which is
quite an extraordinary outfit, to put it mildly) and the phenomenal Gary O'Toole on drums.
During the first hour new songs were interspersed with favourites from his solo albums.
What was most striking was that no songs were included from his recent and highly
acclaimed solo albums Wolflight, Out of the tunnel's mouth or Beyond the
Instead we were treated on great renditions of The steppes that is quite
impressive in such a loud live setting,
the romantic Serpentine song and an absolutely stunning
version of Shadow of the Hierophant with unbelievable and amazing drumming by O'Toole.
Inbetween were four new songs that were nice but failed to impress me.
Maybe that was because of my unfamiliarity with these songs,
as appeared to be the case with most people attending according to the overall
polite but not too enthusiastic appreciation of these songs. Or maybe they simply have to grow over time.
Hackett himself appeared quite satisfied with his new album he told us,
and he played these songs with great confidence, especially in the vocal parts that
were a challenge in their dynamics.
In In the skeleton gallery he even played
mouth harp and did so quite well. And by announcing Behind the smoke he took
a firm stand and told us all to show solidarity with todays' refugees.
If not, "Fuck you"! I had never thought the shy guitar player he once
was would address his audience in such a way ever! He is absolutely right, of course.
But Hackett hadn't only come to present his latest album but also to
commemorate the 40th (!) birthday of the last Genesis studio-album he played on,
1977 Wind & wuthering. He told us that that album was recorded in
Holland not far from Zoetermeer (in fact in nearby Hilversum)
and he had quite a few good memories about the recording process.
At least good enough to play five songs from that album
("Only the good ones and that doesn't mean the one I wrote...",
he said before starting Banks' One for the vine).
To play these songs he had also brought along Nad Sylvan to do the vocal parts and
to add a little more dynamics on stage as Sylvan always has some nice little feature
to show or to play with.
His vocals are decent and satisfying and his presence is eye-catching.
Remarkably O'Toole did the lead vocals on Blood on the rooftops and did a very well job.
The icing on the cake was that the sadly omitted song from the W&W album,
the beautiful Inside and out, was also played, probably for the first
time since the Seconds out tour (I was so lucky to have witnessed that tour
in The Netherlands and I can vividly remember Genesis playing that song
to great enthusiasm of the audience).
Hackett himself stated loud and clearly that it should have been included on
the album and nobody argued him...
It will always be a bit of a mystery to me why the band asks the audience
to start hand clapping halfway through Firth of fifth as that intricate song is only,
to my ears, suited to listen to silently with shivers all down the spine.
Fortunately the formidable guitar solo, which is one of the best ever recorded by anyone,
was listened to in awing aspiration and that is the way it has to be!
Playing The musical box as the last song of the long set was another very nice surprise.
We then knew what we could expect and that was exactly what we got:
a very loud and sometimes atonal Slogans followed by Los Endos,
that was played at the same loud volume and also had a chaotic and atonal mid-piece
that I don't like at all. But that was only small bummer on a great night with one
of the lead musicians in today's prog. Let's hope he will keep the flame burning for many years to come!
In the skeleton gallery
Behind the smoke
Shadow of the Hierophant
Eleventh Earl of Mar
One for the vine
Blood on the rooftops
...In that quiet earth
Inside and out
Dance on a volcano
Firth of Fifth
The musical box