It was great to see Steve Hackett return to Grand Rapids with his latest Genesis Revisited show. It was also great to catch up with fellow Progarchist Bryan Morey again! Brian’s review of the show is admirably thorough, so just a few points from my perch (20 Monroe Live’s left upper mezzanine, nicely depicted in the photo above):
Hackett has changed rhythm sections every time I’ve seen him: Lee Pomeroy and Gary O’Toole were on bass and drums in 2013; Nick Beggs and O’Toole in 2017; Jonas Reingold and Craig Blundell this time. Reingold and Blundell gave the low end a slightly heftier vibe throughout the show, while being every bit as fleet and fluent as their predecessors. I especially enjoyed how Reingold wielded a double-neck 12-string guitar/bass a la Mike Rutherford with both delicacy and devastating power on multiple songs. And Blundell brought the thunder throughout the night; as I said to my wife afterwards, “believe it or not, that’s how Phil Collins played before he became a star.”
I enjoyed both halves of the show about equally — partially because, unlike so many Gabriel-era Genesis fans, I’ve never warmed to Selling England by the Pound. Perhaps it’s because of the way I was exposed to Genesis’ music (starting with — horrors! — … And Then There Were Three … and working backwards), but I’ve always thought Selling England to be five-eighths killer and three-eighths filler (“More Fool Me”, parts of “The Battle of Epping Forest”, “After the Ordeal”, “Aisle of Plenty” — rather a lot, really). Between The Musical Box’s 2018 tour and Hackett’s current show, I’ve heard two bands make an excellent case for the album, and I’m still not convinced; Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering all strike me as better Genesis records.
But my point of view isn’t germane here; Steve Hackett obviously loves all this music, so who am I to carp at his choices? Ably supported by Reingold, Blundell, Rob Townsend (consistently taking courageous improvisational chances on sax and flute), Roger King (the bedrock of this band — understated yet wonderfully dexterous on the keyboards) and Nad Sylvan (a solid singer and an arresting stage presence throughout), Hackett was on top of the music all night, whether sticking to his guitar parts as written or stretching out in new directions, taking strong lead vocals or deftly harmonizing with the ensemble. If you haven’t seen him, you should; if you have, he’s worth seeing again. Either way, I’d argue he’s at the height of his powers — making some of the best music of his career with At the Edge of Light, and still enjoying the music that made his bones, both from Genesis and (in the well-considered highlights of Spectral Mornings) from his earlier days as a solo artist.
As Bryan mentioned, it was a rowdier audience than usual — he didn’t even get to see the, uh, interpretive dance that an audience member treated the mezzanine to on “Dance on A Volcano” and “Los Endos”. (I’ve had to work hard to unsee it.) Fortunately, I can put on At the Edge of Light, Spectral Mornings or Selling England, close my eyes, and hear Steve Hackett’s supple, soaring guitar work instead …
Steve Hackett’s current Genesis Revisited Tour plays North America through October, plays the UK in November — then returns to North America in March 2020! Check out the tour dates here.