Watcher Of The Skies: Steve Hackett at Burg Herzberg festival 2013

Steve Hackett, Burg Herzberg Festival, 19 July 2013Steve Hackett, Burg Herzberg Festival, 19 July 2013

Watcher Of The Skies: Steve Hackett at Burg Herzberg festival 2013

In 2012, Steve Hackett once again relived his past with Genesis. He released the album Genesis Revisited II, on which he re-recorded (or should we say “covered”?) old songs from his time in the band. Every song featured another guest vocalist (among them Phil Collins’ son Simon Collins or Steven Wilson). Since then, Steve has been touring the world with his Genesis classics. And he will continue to do so in 2020 and 2021. Every tour has another album as its focus. While many fans love this tribute, others think that Steve has gone too far and that his solo career suffers from his worshipping of old Genesis material.

Genesis guitarist from 1971 to 1977

Steve joined the band in 1971 as their lead guitarist. He left them in 1977 because he felt that not enough of his material was used. After he left, the band remained a trio (Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford), which showed that they did not miss his contribution and were, in fact, working better as a three-piece-group.

Being regarded as being more of a player than a songwriter, he started a solo career. It showed that he was definitely able to write music – and what music! His first solo records are among the best stuff a Genesis member has ever put out. Unfortunately for him, he was not a singer and always changed band members. So there was not really an identifying character or a charismatic front man in his solo works.

Live at the Burg Herzberg festival 2013

So why exactly he went back and decided to put his solo career aside and focus again on Genesis music, is not quite clear. When he went on tour to support the album, he also played at the famous Burg Herzberg festival in Germany (the biggest hippie festival in Europe). It was the first time that I would see Mr Steve Hackett. So I was looking forward to the show.

It was clear that he would only play Genesis songs. His band started with the famous mellotron intro of “Watcher Of The Skies”. The audience (mainly elderly men) enjoyed that. They always like when an old hero plays old songs. The singer in Steve’s group (to this day) is Nad Sylvan, who is also known for his solo work. For this show he does a bit of the Peter Gabriel theatrics, but without copying him. His voice is a crossover of Peter’s and Phil’s and therefore perfect for a Genesis show. Steve’s band was good (especially Lee Pomeroy on bass), but they are not the original and especially the drum section suffered a bit from that.

With Steve being the main man (next to Nad), he of course shined and showed his skills. But Genesis music is not about just one instrument, so he was just one musician among the others onstage. After “Watcher” they went into the wonderful “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight”, the opener for Selling England By the Pound (Remastered). The song is carried by Steve’s guitar melody.

Nad Sylan as a crossover between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins

“Fly On A Windshield”/”Broadway Melody Of 1974” represented the concept double album “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. They were followed by a highlight for many old fans: “The Musical Box”. The band played a tremendous version. After that, they went into “…In That Quiet Earth”/”Afterglow” from “Wind And Wuthering”. It was here that I realized that Steve and his band are good, but that these songs were much better when played by Genesis and sung by Phil. The same goes for the following “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”, based on Steve’s quirky riff.

“Dance On A Volcano” was played separately. It was followed by the next highlight for most: The full epic “Supper’s Ready”, which means 23 minutes of heavy prog rock. They played great, but again the double drums by Chester Thompson and Phil Collins were missing and the “Apocalypse in 9/8”-part lacked power. Also because no one can play like Tony Banks on keyboards (and Genesis music is mainly focused on Tony and his keyboards).

But the audience was happy and Steve played his signature guitar solo on “Firth Of Fifth” (the melody also being written by Tony Banks). They ended the set with a very interesting version of “Los Endos”. This time the band did a really good job of not copying the original, but did a bit of a different interpretation. These are the moments that made the show interesting, but as mentioned above: The old fans always like when an old hero plays old songs in the traditional way.

“Genesis Revisited” in 2020 and 2021

But to make it clear: I really enjoyed the show. In the end I even shed a few tears because I had finally seen Steve Hackett live and because he did a very good show and played songs that I love. But it felt more like a tribute act. I would have preferred if he came back to his solo stuff after his first “Genesis Revisited” tours. Instead he keeps playing them. Steve Hackett turned 70 last month. He will continue to tour with his Genesis shows over the next years. The next tour will focus on the live album Seconds Out. We wish him all the best and I hope that he will do a bit more solo stuff in the future, too. Otherwise he will always be remembered as the guy who once played guitar in Genesis.

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