Steve Hackett | Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall – DVD Review

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I doubt you are going to find as luscious a package as Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall. This three-disc set (two CDs/one DVD) sees the ex-Genesis guitarist performing 18 songs from his Genesis back catalog. With a band consisting of Roger King on keyboards, Nad Sylvan on vocals and tambourine, Gary O’Toole on drums and backing vocals, Lee Pomeroy on bass, bass pedals, 12 string and backing vocals, and Rob Townsend on sax, woodwinds, percussion, vocals and keys, Hackett has a fine band behind him performing for a seemingly sold-out Royal Albert Hall crowd.

Both the sound and visuals are great as the Royal Albert Hall has rich acoustics and clear sight lines. Cybertech Productions, Ltd. does a superb job filming and editing the DVD. The staging consists of a three-panel screen as a backdrop, but the visuals, time-lapsed photography and light images never detract from Hackett at centerstage, executing his precise dexterity across a Les Paul. We get only a smattering of crowd reaction shots thankfully as most of the time the cameras are up tight on what Hackett and the other players are doing, even fashioning us with close-ups over the front cymbals of O’Toole’s kit, the hands of King as he recreates familiar keyboard lines, and on the expressiveness, at times even jerky, ways of Nad Sylvan.

We open with a spot-on rendition of “Dancing on A Volcano,” moving into the delicate opening tones of “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight,” the first real sign of how subtle a drummer O’Toole is and the first use of Hackett’s infamous two-handed hammer technique (take that Eddie Van Halen!). There are excerpts of Genesis’ 1974 The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway album with O’Toole singing both “Fly On A Windshield” and “Broadway Melody of 1974.” After a few words from Hackett, the first guest of the night, Ray Wilson (who sang for Genesis from 1996 to 1998) walks out to deliver “Carpet Crawlers.” What an impressive voice he has. To watch and hear Hackett manage those single note bends behind Wilson is pretty special as well.

A crinkly moment of an instrumental floats open what sounds like a quicker “Musical Box” with Rob Townsend’s flute making an appearance. Basically the swirl all depends on Hackett alternating between soft strumming and plucking. He takes up a classical guitar and manages a faster “Horizons,” plucking harmonics off the guitar in this gem from Genesis’ 1972 Foxtrot album. A truly rocking “I Know What I Like” features Wilson and Sylvan singing lead vocal in tandem, complete with sax solo from Townsend, and Hackett getting the loudest he ever does as the song grows real funky at its end.

“Firth Of A Fifth” has John Wetton guesting on lead vocal. Keyboardist Roger King doesn’t miss a note of that distinctive Tony Banks’ piano beginning and Wetton sounds as strong as he has been sounding these later years of his career. “Supper’s Ready” is the centerpiece with the band studied, maybe slightly stiff behind Hackett, but certainly maintaining their musical “p’s” and “q’s” on this masterpiece of time changes and mysterious lyrics. Sylvan manages to capture a good amount of the drama needed for the separate sections, but again it is Hackett we are watching and listening to here as he brandishes an economy of playing. I have caught plenty of Genesis live recordings and have certainly seen my share of video of the band back in the days of Gabriel. Here, it feels as if Hackett is playing with looseness I never saw him display with such seriousness. “Watcher Of The Skies” and “Los Endos” include some wilds flights of Hackett’s vibrato. Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall is magical and another stab of Hackett’s to massage this older material with a fresh perspective. If he brings this show to your town, it might be a good idea to catch this train when it chugs through.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.


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