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Concert Reviews:
Steve Hackett "sells" Genesis, solo material at the Fillmore

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2020

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DETROIT -- Earlier on Wednesday, March 4, Steve Hackett's former bandmates in Genesis announced some reunion shows for later this year in the U.K.

The guitarist, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who was part of Genesis from 1971-77, made no mention of that on stage at the Fillmore Detroit, however. Instead Hackett let the music -- nearly two and a half hours of it, plus intermission -- do the all the proverbial talking as he re-staked his claim as one of the architects of Genesis as well as his position on the Mount Rushmore of progressive rock guitarists alongside King Crimson's Robert Fripp, Yes' Steve Howe and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.

Hackett is in a kind of career prime at a time, age 70, when many of his peers are dialing down. His 2019 album "At the Edge of Light" -- whose "Beasts in Our Time" and "Under the Eye of the Sun" he and his five-piece band played on Wednesday -- is as solid as anything he's released since leaving Genesis, and his fluid, ringing guitar tone is as potent and affecting now as it was nearly five decades ago. His own material sat comfortably beside Genesis' at the Fillmore, and his genuinely loving embrace of his work with the band made the show's musical trips back in time more than mere nostalgia.

Wednesday's highlight, of course, was the concert's second half, when Hackett and company played Genesis' 1973 album "Selling England By the Pound," his professed favorite, in its entirety. With vocalist Nad Sylvan channeling Peter Gabriel in Victorian attire straight out of a Dickens novel, it was a chance to hear key Genesis epics such as "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight," "Firth of Fifth," "The Battle of Epping Forest" and "The Cinema Show" in glorious authenticity -- and with some new flavors provided by Rob Townsend on saxophones and flute. Nowhere was the latter more impactful than on an extended version of "I Know What I Like," with a tenor sax solo that took the the song into a funky, jazzier direction.

The night's other treats included the "Selling..." outtake "Deja Vu" and earlier Genesis classics "The Musical Box" and "Watchers of the Sky." Hackett's own material shined as well, from the harmony-laded pop opener "Every Day" to the majestic instrumental title track from 1979's "Spectral Mornings" and the acoustic shimmer of "The Virgin and the Gypsy."

Hackett may not sell the same number of records or tickets as Genesis, but there was no doubt Wednesday he's a reliable keeper of the flame, and one who's adding to a story that reflects favorably on the band as well.

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