Apollo, Manchester, 24/9/2021
published: 16 /
Neil Swift at the Manchester Apollo watches Steve Hackett plays Genesis' entire double live album 'Seconds Out' as well as highlights from his own back and current catalogue.
Some 40 years + since Genesis recorded 'Seconds Out' live from Paris’ Palais Des Sports, Steve Hackett replicates the album in its entirety on his latest tour.
The evening’s playlist features selected ‘dishes’ from his own back and current catalogue, and then after a regrouping the feature offering performed magnificently by accomplished musicians headed up by the master himself .
‘Seconds Out’ encaptures music from each of the six studio albums that Steve played on in his time with Genesis and also marked his last recording with the band.
‘Clocks ( Angel Of Mons)’ from the 1979 ‘Spectral Mornings’ album breaks the audience in nicely with its haunting melodies...it is not difficult to grasp how this track was considered as a suitable horror movie soundtrack.
A leap into the latest album release ‘Surrender Of Silence’ introduced many to new tracks composed during the enforced lockdown period. Clearly Steve made good use of the strangest of times as ‘Held In The Shadows’ revealed…a song dedicated to his wife Jo Lehmann. Wonderful harmonies intertwined between vocalist Nad Sylvan and singer/guitarist Amanda Lehmann (Jo’s sister) ably supported by Steve and the band.
It was back to ‘Spectral Mornings’ for perhaps Steve’s signature tune ‘Every Day’, an anti drug composition with the recurring guitar solo played with sublime dexterity. At this point the audience were being compelled to break into mass toe tapping …
‘The Devil’s Cathedral’ from the new album is sure to become a favourite with its dramatic and cinematic qualities and we were then treated to a quite superb rendition of ‘Shadows of Hierophant’ where Amanda’s harmonies were showcased along with Rob Townsend’s adept flute playing. Townsend’s evening was spent flitting between flutes ,whistles ,keyboards and on some occasions a set of spoons ...each instrument played to perfection.
After a thirty minute regroup and a chance for the audience to prepare for what was to come, the band reappeared and broke into a rousing performance of ‘Squonk’ that then flowed into to the melodious ‘Carpet Crawlers’, Ironic really that just a few miles across the City of Manchester, Hackett’s former colleagues were headlining at the Arena. There must have been times during the evening when if the ‘lids’ had been lifted from both auditoriums that Mancunians would have been treated to synchronised versions of the likes of ‘Carpet Crawlers’ et al…..
‘Robbery Assault and Battery’ punched along brilliantly with the aid of Craig Blundell’s drum thumping and Jonas Reingold’s ‘ballsy’ base lines .
A calming of the waters set the stage for a soulful ‘Afterglow’ with frequent flashes of the spotlights famously on show when the track was performed in Paris back in 1977.
As if the glimpses of Hackett's fretwork were not obvious for all to see and hear already they were very much front of stage in the all encapturing ‘Firth Of Fifth’...during which toe tapping had been replaced by foot stomping and clapping in every corner.
‘I Know What I Like ‘was delivered with its own unique variations and particularly the box sax and flute contributions from Rob Townsend that went down a treat with the gathered folk.
From ‘Selling England By The Pound’ it was into the seminal ‘Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ and a jaunty rendition of the title track leading in to the final movements of ‘Musical Box’ from ‘Nursery Cryme’. Sylvan’s vocal range and ability to adapt to the switching of moods and tempos was clearly evident...
Everything teed-up beautifully for side three of ‘Seconds Out' and the masterclass that is ‘Supper's Ready’. I frequently revisit a You Tube recording of Gabriel and Co performing this back in 1973 at the Bataclan in Paris ...perhaps a gig that cemented the band’s elevation to the peerage .
Each of the song’s seven sections was delivered with superb precision and warm gushes swept over the audience that were simply spellbound -a standing ovation was inevitable...’nuff said ‘ as the saying goes.
As if that was not enough, eleven minutes of the lyrical delights of ‘Cinema Show’ brought the evening to a climatic crescendo and. after Steve had introduced and thanked his ‘A Team’ of musicians, an encore of ‘Dancing On A Volcano’ and the entirely apt ‘Los Endos ‘saw adoring fans head for the doors humming favourite tunes and satisfying themselves that there really wasn't too many better ways to spend a Friday evening.
Photos by Andrew Twambley
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