Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Steve Hackett

Inside Out, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Late in 2014, someone in the Genesis camp made a push to bring the band back to the limelight with the release of a documentary and the R-KIVE collection. Independent of that, and of far more interest to real Genesis fans, was the continuation of Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited project, which yielded two stellar live albums and DVDs, one at the Hammersmith Odeon in 2013 and this one.

Hackett continues to release new music (2015's Wolflight is the most recent example) while still bearing the torch for the prime Genesis prog-rock period of 1971-1976. An early Revisited project in the late 1990s suggested this music could be reworked while staying true to the originals, but it didn't go far enough; now, with a full band, advances in sound, and an appreciation for his band's music that has only deepened over time, Hackett got it right.

Both the Hammersmith and Royal Albert collections are worthwhile for fans of the original Genesis, and there is significant overlap in the tracklists, with this one taking the edge as far as the song selection. Hackett played on six studio albums during his tenure – four with Peter Gabriel singing, two with Phil Collins – and left right before the band became an art-pop trio, so naturally nothing after my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Wind & Wuthering is present.

Genesis was a band who performed its songs as close to the studio versions as possible – never forget, they were a band of songwriters first, turning only to performance when nobody else could play their stuff the right way – and Hackett still holds to that aesthetic, for the most part. Because these tunes are familiar, the listener knows what to expect, but the twists and turns in the solos, the guest appearances, and the subtle surprises makes this a rewarding, expertly played listen. And that's a compliment; nailing these tricky time signatures and solos (as on "Supper's Ready") is tough enough, but making the songs sound vital and fresh instead of just an oldies revue is tougher, and this crew pulls it off. It's credible for the faithful and takes enough risks to remind us why we loved this music in the first place.

The most radical change is "Los Endos," which is a flat-out rock and roll jam for a few mintues with some smoking guitar solos before moving into the more stately, recognizable section. Being an instrumental means there was room to manuever, and Hackett lets it fly here, clearly having a good time doing so. "Fly On A Windshield" is equally good, with Hackett taking an extended, deliberate solo (much like on the superior "Firth Of Fifth," perhaps the best Genesis song ever written). The Nursery Cryme triptych ("Hogweed," "Musical Box" and "Fountain Of Salmacis") is accounted for nice and loud; at the end of "Hogweed," Hackett jokes "Those Swedish guys certainly can play."

Former Asia, King Crimson, and UK bassist/singer John Wetton is along to sing "Firth Of Fifth" and nails it, while "Carpet Crawlers," the majestic "Afterglow," the beautiful flamenco solo "Horizons," "Watcher Of The Skies" and "Supper's Ready" remain the same fantastic prog-rock masterpieces they have always been. "Dance On A Volcano" remains a weak song but a fine opener that rouses the crowd – check out how the bass booms out of the speaker – while the instrumental section of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" and "Ripples," with Amanda Lehman delivering a great vocal that lends a new dimension to the song, are but two of the new twists on signature material.

The fact is that Genesis, as we knew them, will never reform to play these songs again. But the fact that Hackett can sell out the Royal Albert Hall with this set list is proof that Genesis fans will never stop hoping. However, this was worth the wait.

Rating: A-

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