Steve Hackett at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Steve Hackett live on the stage in Aylesbury

So here I am! Finally catching Steve Hackett live again for the first time in nearly two years. I’ve travelled slightly north to Aylesbury to see him this time at the Waterside Theatre. A venue I’ve not been to before, but I must say looks fantastic from the exterior.

Originally I did have tickets to see him at one of the London shows in the Palladium with pretty good seats, however, as this was a rescheduled tour from 2020 to 2021 – it ended up clashing with something else I had planned. Such is the fun of the current times covid we’re in. I’m just hoping at this point that it doesn’t happen with any other concerts as I think we’ve all missed enough shows lately as it is.

However, on the plus side, it’s always nice to get out of the big smog for a concert and see some more of the UK – especially after 18 months of being stuck indoors. So all in all, I can’t complain…

This evening the venue was as ‘COVID-safe’ as one can be, enforcing that entrants show one of the following…

  • Full vaccination (first and second dose), and with the second dose administered at least 14 days before your visit; OR
  • Documentation to prove a negative PCR/ LF test has been taken within the 48 hours prior to attendance; OR
  • Proof of natural immunity (positive PCR test within the last six months, after self-isolation has ended and up to 180 days after taking the test).

It certainly eased my mind, particularly being in possibly the most densely populated human area since the pandemic began.

Here in England, venues are not required to ask these questions, however, I believe that they are required to in Scotland and Wales. So make sure to check with the venue before you go, and make sure you’ve got all the relevant documentation with you. Oh, and don’t forget your ticket either!

The outside of this theatrical venue

This 2021 tour is a homage to ‘Seconds Out’, a live album that Genesis originally released in 1977. The set this evening has been split into two parts – with the first third covering a handful of tracks from Steve’s solo career before moving on to a full replica of the classic ‘Seconds Out’ tour.

The show opened with ‘Clocks’ from the 1979 album ‘Spectral Mornings’, followed by Steve making small talk about not being all too sure whether the tour would go ahead, but being very happy that it did, and that it’s managed to continue so far. On the other side of Genesis, the three musketeers (Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks) managed to catch covid inside of their core crew which led to the final few dates of their UK tour being cancelled, with many other similar stories happening throughout the industry. See the Avatar/Tallah tour in the USA.

The set continued with some fresh material from the new album, as well as another track from ‘Spectral Mornings’,  ‘Every Day’.

‘The Devil’s Cathedral’ was fantastic live, and for me personally brought the track new life as to where Steve’s latest solo effort ‘Surrender of Silence’ didn’t alert my ears all too much. The duet between Roger King and Rob Townsend filled the entire venue with a sinister aura, leading right into a classic Hackett guitar solo.

As is always welcome, Amanda Lehmann was here this evening guesting on the solo tracks, including the vocal intro to ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’. Seeing that track played live without her is criminal these days as the intro section is stunning with her on vocals, as well as guitar.

It’s always nice to have some deeper cuts from Steve’s solo works, although ‘Every Day’ and ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ seem to have been played on near every tour in the last few years. It would be nice for a bit of a change, maybe branching out a bit more into his acoustic works. But alas, that’ll have to wait for his next tour.

The evening led into a short interval at this point, before the Genesis side of the evening came into fruition.

Amanda Lehmann joining the band for Steve’s solo set

I think at this point, most of you reading are probably highly familiar with the nuance’s of the Genesis material, and possibly even with the original ‘Seconds Out’ live album, so I shan’t delve into too much detail.

And that’s because for the most part, it was a pretty standard ‘greatest hits’ Genesis set, covering songs that the Steve Hackett band have been playing regularly over the last few years. Albeit in a slightly different set order.

Running through tracks including ‘Squonk’, ‘Robbery, Assault & Battery’, ‘Afterglow’, and ‘Firth of Fifth’, there were however a couple of new additions to the normal standard Genesis sets from this Steve Hackett band. ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’, and ‘The Carpet Crawlers’, which are from the album Steve reaches to least when constructing his live show sets. So these led to being a welcome refresher in a somewhat very familiar set.

And even though this set was very familiar, this set of musicians know how to jazz things up. Literally.

‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ had a rather curious jazz breakdown in the middle of it. And I loved it! Made the set feel fresh, and come into its own a bit instead of just repeating the past. Rob Townsend had a large saxophone moment in here, as well as a duet between piccolo and guitar.

Of course we had ‘Supper’s Ready’ to look forward to in this set too. A behemoth of a song that always brings a smile to my face to see live. And the audience thought so too, with the entire room suddenly animating to call ‘A FLOWER!?’, despite staying entirely silent for most of the set. Aside from raucous applause between songs, of course. Nad came into his own singing this track too, giving his own passionate live performance from his section of the stage.

The set finished with the short classic encore combination, ‘Los Endos’ and ‘Slogans’ – where Craig Blundell got a fair opportunity to absolutely obliterate his drum kit in a solo section.

After so long without live Steve Hackett, I’m incredibly glad to see the band once more, particularly so paying homage to the original ‘Seconds Out’ tour. And especially to know that the band are keeping things to a high standard after almost 18 months of being stuck at home.

There’s always something special about seeing this particular guitar legend play his material live.

The band take a bow

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