Steve Hackett rose to prominence in the 1970s as guitarist and songwriter with legendary progtastic band Genesis. I wasn’t fortunate enough to see Genesis live in their heyday, but last night at Leamington Spa’s Assembly Rooms Hackett took to the stage and I got a sense of how it might have been. Apart from tribute band The Musical Box, for those of us who missed Genesis, seeing Hackett live is the closest thing you can now get.
As with any serious progressive musician, their classical influences leak out all over the place, and so it is with Hackett.
Hackett is a master of classic Spanish guitar and its influence frequent seeps unashamedly into his songs. With his band, he played many of his own compositions, beginning with the truly beautiful, anthemic ‘Every Day’ – one of my faves and a great way to start the show.
His band includes musican Nick Beggs formerly of (would you believe) Kajagoogoo, who obviously delights in the role of eccentric showman, useful to have if you are a modest bloke like Hackett, who just wants to play guitar. This evening, Beggs was dressed like an undertaker, but played his bass (below) and Chapman Stick like an angel.
From his Genesis back-catalog Hackett thrilled the audience with Carpet crawl, Watcher of the skies, Blood on the rooftops, Los Endos and a particular favourite of mine Firth of Fifth, from the album Selling England by the Pound. The attention to detail, the orchestration, the epic symphonies, catchy riffs and big sweeping melodies, and bass pedals fill you up with music in quite a physical way; like when you stand in a cathedral and listen to the organ played.
Oh! and the sweetness of Hackett’s guitar, right on the edge … straining to get sustain and feedback just right to make the instrument sing and soar.
Since Hackett left Genesis in 1978 he has pursued a successful solo career and kept a loyal army of fans very happy indeed.
Photos: Moth Clark