By John Curley
At 72, Steve Hackett remains a stellar guitarist. Hackett showed off his musical chops at the outstanding show that he and his very talented backing band performed at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan on Sunday, April 3rd. They performed for two-and-a-half hours to the delight of a very enthusiastic and appreciative audience. The show focused on the 1977 Genesis live album Seconds Out.
Hackett’s touring band includes Nad Sylvan (vocals), Roger King (keyboards), Craig Blundell (drums), Jonas Reingold (bass, 12-string and pedals) and Rob Townsend (saxophone, flute, brass, woodwind, keyboard and percussion). They are a finely honed unit, having spent a lot of time together on the road before and after the break from live performances caused by the pandemic. Hackett commented early on in the show about how good it felt for him to be back performing live.
The first set of the show featured performances of several of Hackett’s solo songs. The opener, “Clocks – The Angel of Mons,” sounded fantastic with percussion being used to replicate the sound of a clock. Hackett played some fantastic guitar on the instrumental song, much to the delight of the crowd. That was followed by “Held in The Shadows,” which had Hackett singing the lead vocal and included great saxophone playing from Townsend. King’s keyboards and Hackett’s guitar drove the excellent “Every Day.” In his introduction of the song “The Devil’s Cathedral” from his most recent studio album Surrender of Silence, Hackett stated that the song is about “unbridled ambition.” The song began with King’s sinister-sounding keyboards and included a great disjointed midsection that highlighted King’s keyboards and Hackett’s guitar. The instrumental closing section of “Shadow of the Hierophant” concluded the first set. Hackett did some serious shredding during the song, eliciting big cheers from the crowd. The song grew quiet in the midsection, with only King playing what sounded like a child’s toy piano. When the full band kicked in again, the song built to a magnificent crescendo. The audience roared with appreciation as Hackett and company then departed the stage for a 20-minute break before the evening’s second set.
The bright and powerful rock of the Genesis song “Squonk” kicked off the Seconds Out portion of the show. Sylvan’s vocal on the song was strong and Townsend provided some impressive saxophone playing. It received a big hand at the end. “The Carpet Crawlers” had a great keyboard intro by King and perfect vocal by Sylvan as well as Hackett’s terrific fretwork. The performance of “Robbery, Assault & Battery” brought many in the audience to their feet for the first of many times during the show. King’s keyboard work had a spotlight moment in the song’s midsection. “Afterglow” featured terrific work by Hackett, a top-notch vocal from Sylvan and a tight performance by the rest of the band. Once again, many in the cheering crowd rose to their feet in appreciation.
King’s piano work at the start of “Firth of Fifth” was magnificent. The tight performance by the band on the song led to a massive roar and sustained ovation from the crowd. “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” featured a jazzy midsection with great saxophone work by Townsend and rumbling bass by Reingold. It received a big hand from the crowd. The somewhat understated performance of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” had extra resonance as the show was taking place at the Beacon Theatre, which is located on Broadway. It featured great keyboard work by King and a solid vocal by Sylvan.
The second set entered its final stretch with the band’s rendition of the final verse section of “The Musical Box.” Sylvan’s vocal was assertive, King provided some powerhouse keyboard playing and Hackett’s guitar work was top drawer. The crowd roared with appreciation at the end, with many, once again, giving the song a standing ovation. The performance of “Supper’s Ready” was probably the pinnacle of the show, which had been chock full of highlights. It really showed how well the band works together. Hackett’s guitar work toward the end of the song was phenomenal and capped off what had been a truly outstanding take on the song. The crowd exploded with a huge roar and a sustained standing ovation. The performances of “The Cinema Show” and “Aisle of Plenty” concluded the second set. “The Cinema Show” began with light being reflected all over the theater, which was quite effective. Hackett and the band drove the songs home with a blistering performance that once again had most in the crowd on their feet and cheering.
The encore kicked off with “Dance on a Volcano,” as Hackett’s guitar mastery led the band’s solid performance. Drummer Blundell was then featured in a spotlight moment with a drum solo. While many drum solos can be downright boring and bombastic, this one was not. Blundell showed off his musical chops to the delight of the crowd. The night drew to a close with the performance of “Los Endos” that included a bit of Hackett’s solo tune “Slogans” in the midsection. It contained some terrific and intense guitar playing by Hackett as well as impressive work by Townsend on saxophone. The crowd gave the band one final standing ovation and roar of appreciation as the band took their bows and left the stage.
Hackett’s Beacon Theatre performance took place on the same night as the Grammy Awards. While Hackett’s albums don’t sell in the numbers achieved by the artists feted at the Grammy Awards, most of those performers would likely be very grateful to have the ardent and loyal fanbase that Hackett has. The audience at the Beacon Theatre really became part of the show, and their enthusiasm and support of Hackett and his band seemed to push them to new heights during the performance. The band appeared to be feeding off of the energy from the crowd, and that fantastic synergy between the band and the audience led to a spectacular and quite memorable performance. The crowd was still buzzing at they exited the venue.
The set list was as follows:
Clocks – The Angel of Mons
Held in the Shadows
The Devil’s Cathedral
Shadow of the Hierophant (instrumental closing section only)
Set 2 (Seconds Out):
Squonk (Genesis song)
The Carpet Crawlers (Genesis song)
Robbery, Assault & Battery (Genesis song)
Afterglow (Genesis song)
Firth of Fifth (Genesis song)
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (Genesis song)
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (Genesis song)
The Musical Box – final verse only (Genesis song)
Supper’s Ready (Genesis song)
The Cinema Show (Genesis song)
Aisle of Plenty (Genesis song)
Dance on a Volcano (Genesis song)
Los Endos / Slogans / Los Endos (Genesis song, including a section of Hackett’s solo song)