Though I have never had the pleasure of meeting Steve Hackett, I imagine the man to be a bit of the quintessential English gentleman, because is entire sold-out performance in Boulder, Colorado oozed nothing but class from start to finish.
The “Genesis Revisited Seconds Out Plus More” World Tour made a stop in the Rocky Mountain State, much to joy of the crowd of mostly middle aged and older crowd. Hackett said he was so glad to be back in this beautiful city, and informed us that we were in for a two-set affair, the first of which would concentrate on his solo work, and after intermission, they would tackle “Seconds Out,” to which the crowd erupted in loud applause.
With Hackett claiming center-stage with his signature gold top Fernandes Les Paul style guitar, the band was well rounded out by woodwind player Rob Townsend and keyboardist Roger King on the left and the rhythm section of bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Craig Blundell on the right. Singer Nad Sylvan floated on and off stage throughout the night, setting up near Townsend.
The briefer initial set featured a pair of tracks from 1979’s “Spectral Mornings,” as well as two from 2021’s “Surrender of Silence.” That’s a span of 42 years, and yet the tracks blended together live as if they were all from around the same period. The opening set concluded with a portion of the iconic Hackett track, “Shadow of the Hierophant,” where he displayed flashes of tapping and whammy bar work as if he was truly a pioneer of the techniques. The set was delivered with a sense of taste and decorum, punctuated by an effective light show that cast various colored shafts of light in dramatic fashion at well-timed changes. Though now age 72, Hackett still plays with precision and passion, leaving no suspicions that he might want to hang up his touring hat any time soon.
In fact, he made an even greater case for staying on the road with the second set, which burst out with the familiar strains of “Squonk” following the 20-minute intermission, that instantly brought the crowd to its feet for the first of numerous standing ovations during the string of well-loved Genesis tracks.
While the set-list was material from the 1977 classic Genesis live album (which turned out to be Hackett’s last recording with the band), this was clearly not an attempted recreation of the “Seconds Out” live presentation, but rather a Hackett-Centric interpretation, which meant that we got to hear more Hackett playing front and center. It also meant that Rob Townsend often played Banks’ familiar keyboard lines on horns. It should also be noted that while Genesis is iconically identifiable in part by the sound of Phil Collins’ drums, there was no apparent attempt made to recreate that timbre. Craig Blundell played the parts with great competence, but his performance did not seem to prioritize the assimilation of those sounds or some memorable fills. This was in stark contrast to the final tour of Genesis I saw last year, where Collins’ son Nick was remarkably successful at channeling the spirit of Phil’s playing.
Jonas Reingold sported a double neck guitar/bass hybrid at times that was very reminiscent of Mike Rutherford. And it must be said that Roger King played signature Tony Banks keyboard solos with remarkable accuracy to the originals, though he always looked incredibly workman-like throughout and rarely cracked a smile.
Nad Sylan’s interpretations of the older “Seconds Out” material was much more aligned in style and subtleties to the way Peter Gabriel used to perform the songs—a bit quirky and—even though Phil Collins handled the vocals on the “Seconds Out,” record because Gabriel had already departed by then.
Steve Hackett maintained an heir of calm and cool comfort throughout the evening, and while one could ignorantly dismiss the band on stage as a cover band, Hackett’s presence and performance reinforced the validity and power that we were witnessing a member of the real thing who contributed deeply to what those in attendance held so dearly—classic Genesis material. Like the days of old, Hackett played seated in spots, as did Reingold.
After delighting the crowd with the sing-alongs of “The Carpet Crawlers” and “I Know What I Like” as well as the epic onslaught of “Supper’s Ready,” and the dramatic build of “Cinema Show,” the crowd was on its feet cheering for more during an extended call for encore, which the band answered with “Dance on a Volcano,” an extensive and tasteful Craig Blundell drum solo, and finally, “Los Endos,” which seemed a very fitting conclusion to a night that was both classic and contemporary.
The band sounded tight and the acoustics were very good in the theater. The crowd, who were mouthing along the words to every song, seemed to be rooting for the band’s success during the songs, and demonstrated their approval with multiple standing ovations and active hand clapping at strategic sections. It was clear that the crowd didn’t just love the performance they were getting, they already loved these songs, and were thrilled to have the opportunity to experience fresh renditions of songs deeply engrained in their memories.
Given the state of the world and the recent impact of COVID on live music performances, it was not lost on most of us that we were seeing something we could not take for granted, because there were no guarantees that it will ever happen again. And that – along with the pure quality of the show – is a pretty good reason to get yourself out to see this tour if you can.