When Steve met Phil

The venue? The venerable Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The artist? Steve Hackett and his band performing tracks from the album "Genesis Revisited II".

From the opening bars of "Watcher of the Skies" the audience sensed that this was going to be a special evening. Enhanced with a wonderfully evocative light show, including giant moving angle poise lamps (I kid you not), Steve and his group of ridiculously talented musicians had the sell out crowd in the palm of their collective hands, taking their fans on a journey through some of the greatest music of the "classic" Genesis era. Long before the last haunting notes of "Supper's Ready" faded some two and a half hours later the group had been greeted to several standing ovations as the great songs of yore stirred memories and emotions of fans both old and new.

It's no mean feat to take on the music that many people regard as almost sacred. In many ways it was an incredibly brave step for Steve to take, given the fact that his own solo career had never looked better, yet take it on he did. The end result is the shows... And boy, are they something to experience.

Hackett fans know what a tight unit Steve has put together in Gary O'Toole (drums and vocals), Roger King (Keyboard wizard), Rob Townsend (sax, flute, keyboards and percussion), and Lee Pomeroy (bass, 12 string, vocals) but not many were aware of the talents of singer Nad Sylvan. They are now. With a voice that is an uncanny mix of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins and a stage presence all of his own, Sylvan delivered a vocal performance that even the most critical of critics must have been pleased to acknowledge. Sure, he isn't Gabriel or Collins - but then again he isn't trying to be. He just loves the songs he's performing and it shows.

And the set? When "Firth of Fifth" is an encore you know that what has gone before must have been something very special, and indeed it was. The achingly beautiful "Entangled" rubbed shoulders with "The Musical Box", "Chamber of 32 Doors", and "The Lamia". "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" soared into the upper reaches of the auditorium to be joined by the power houses of "Dance on a Volcano", "Eleventh Earl of Mar", "Fly on a Windshield", "Broadway melody of 1974" and "Blood on the Rooftops". The musical brilliance of "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers...", "...In that quiet Earth" and "Afterglow" brought smiles to faces and people to their feet. The encore was the aforementioned "Firth of Fifth" and, according to Mr Hackett, a "thrown together" version of the greatest ending to any show ever written, "Los Endos". In the immortal words of Jim Royal, "Thrown together my a**e!" Good job the Phil is structurally sound as the roof nearly took off as the band ripped into this classic, Pomeroy's bass pedals literally shaking people in their seats.

It's hard to put the overall evening into words that don't sound clichéd or a touch overblown, but brilliant springs to mind. Having seen Steve perform since 1972 and witnessed the classic Genesis first hand this is the closest any of us are ever going to get to hearing these wonderful songs performed so well ever again. Is it the classic Genesis? No, but then again how could it be? But are the songs delivered with passion, love, great skill and precision? You bet.

So if you are wondering about going to a show, get a ticket - if you can find one - and go.

There is no way you will leave disappointed.

Martin Jones,
May 13th 2013