By Michael Popke
There is no shortage of live Steve Hackett albums, but it made sense for the former Genesis guitarist to capture these 2009 and 2010 performances in London, Paris and New York. After all, they were in support of Hackett’s most critically acclaimed solo album in years, “Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth.” Six of that album’s eight tracks wound up on “Live Rails,” a two-CD, 20-song set that keeps the train theme chugging while also relying on early- and mid-period Genesis material, such as “Fifth of Firth,” “Los Endos” and “Blood on the Rooftops.”
Hackett eschews stage banter and lets his guitar do the talking, along with a crack five-piece band. An international-flavored intro builds excitement before Hackett and company launch into “Every Day” — a bouncy treat from 1979’s “Spectral Mornings,” anchored by Hackett’s definitive soloing. “Tubehead,” from “Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth,” boasts double-bass drumming bordering on metal and is one of the noisiest songs in the Hackett catalog (even recalling GTR).
Some songs sound instantly familiar (“Ace of Wands,” “Fire on the Moon”), even if you’ve never heard them before; their arrangements are that rooted in the classic-prog tradition of Genesis and Yes — not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Hackett seldom misses with this material.
The Genesis songs, however, elicit the loudest applause. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either.