Concert Review: Steve Hackett (Genesis Extended)

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I’ve been to hundreds of concerts in the Bay Area, but for some reason I had never seen a concert at the Regency Ballroom, which used to be called the Avalon Ballroom. By the way, when it was called the Avalon Ballroom it hosted many classic rock concerts from the 60’s at the height of psychedelic poster art, like this.

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I went to the Regency to see Steve Hackett, who, for the uninitiated, used to be the guitarist for Genesis, back when Peter Grabriel was the band’s vocalist. Hackett has put together a band to play all the Gabriel-era Genesis material that I never really got to see. I saw Genesis a few times during the post-Gabriel era, but they would always package snippets of the older material into a medley instead of playing the whole songs. A rare exception was when I saw them at the Greek Theater and they played Supper’s Ready, from the Foxtrot album.

So I’d been waiting decades to see a gig like this. It seemed like most of the other people in attendance were in the same boat, because the crowd gave the band a standing ovation after every single song. The performance was generally excellent, though my friend was less than thrilled with the vocalist who was standing in for Peter Gabriel. I thought he did a pretty good job. It’s hard, even for a gifted vocalist, to perform someone else’s iconic material.

I was going to post a video clip that I recorded on my phone, but had trouble with the upload to WordPress. So instead I’m linking to youtube if you want a taste.The song is called Firth of Fifth. They played this song at the Regency; an awesome, extended version with an expansive guitar solo that showcased Hackett’s playing.

It’s hard to say which song from the concert I enjoyed most. There were many to choose from because the show clocked in at two and a half hours. I guess I’ll pick Fly on a Windshield, from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway double album. I chose that one because I never in my wildest dreams thought they would play it; I never thought I would see anyone perform that song live. I love the song, too, and they did it justice to say the least, wringing every ounce out of the song’s quirky lyrical energy and angular melodic power.

There were two songs they didn’t play that I really wanted to see, but didn’t expect them to play, so I wasn’t too disappointed. Both songs are from The Lamb: Back in New York City, and The Chamber of 32 Doors (they played the latter on other tour dates). If you’re not a Genesis fan and want to try it out by purchasing one Genesis album (please don’t download free pirated music; a pet peeve.), I would recommend The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. In my opinion, it’s their best album by far, and one of the great art rock albums of all time. Except for the break between discs (it’s a double album), each song flows seamlessly into the next; a neat trick because the songs are all unique and eclectic. In fact, the songwriting and production on the parts between the songs rivals the songs. It’s on a par with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Actually, I think The Lamb is better, but I’m biased, so reach your own conclusion.

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