Steve Hackett - “Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall” Album Review
Steve Hackett
Label: Inside Out Music
  • 5/5
Reviewed by Jordan Blum

Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is every bit as intense, perfected, and all-encompassing as fans would expect, making it a remarkable achievement, as well as a thoroughly joyous listen.

When most people think of Genesis, they think of two concrete eras: “The Peter Gabriel Years” (which were quite progressive and artsy) and “The Phil Collins Years” (which dominated the ‘80s with simpler, poppier music). However, I would argue that the two halves of Genesis should be categorized around the involvement of guitarist Steve Hackett, whose departure in 1977 paved the way for the remaining trio to venture into a drastically different style. In fact, Hackett seems to be the only member who still celebrates the music Genesis made in the ‘70s, which is why he’s released several Genesis Revisited albums, in which he and guest musicians recreate the music as closely as possible. The latest, Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall, is every bit as intense, perfected, and all-encompassing as fans would expect, making it a remarkable achievement, as well as a thoroughly joyous listen.

Seeing as how Hackett is considered a pioneer and icon of progressive rock, it’s not surprising to learn how many guest musicians he’s worked with on these records. For example, the studio efforts featured contributions from Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, Nick Magnus, Colin Blunstone, Ian Mcdonald, Dave Kerzner, Francis Dunnery, Mikael Åkerfedlt, Neal Morse, and Steven Wilson. Of course, this collection doesn’t feature as many people, but Hackett’s still managed to utilize the talents of several instrumental heavyweights, including Ray Wilson, Roine Stolt, John Wetton and Amanda Lehmann, as well as his regular band members—Roger King, Rob Townsend, Gary O'Toole, and Lee Pomeroy. In addition, vocalist Nad Sylvan (Agents of Mercy) shines as the frontman.

Musically, Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall doesn’t deviate too much from the material it replicates, which is perfect. In fact, it’s consistently surprising how much attention to detail the group put into emulating these highly intricate pieces. Sure, some timbres are different here and there, and some parts (such as the Wind & Wuthering closing suite) feel a bit heavier, but for the most part these songs sound exactly as they did on the LPs. In addition, Sylvan does a phenomenal job evoking the spirit of both Gabriel and Collins in terms of tone and delivery. At times, he sounds like a fusion of both singers, as well as like Fish (from Marillion, who started out like the 80s version of classic Genesis). To be fair, he has his own qualities too, and he adds some nice improvisations and flairs to the fold.

As for the track list, popular gems like “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” “The Musical Box,” “Return of the Giant Hogweed,” and “Watcher of the Skies” are complemented by the inclusion of wonderful album cuts like “Dance of a Volcano,” “Firth of Fifth,” “Ripples,” “The Fountain of Salmacis,” and “Broadway Melody of 1974.” Cleverly, the set begins with “Dance on a Volcano” and ends with “Los Endos,” just as A Trick of the Tail did.  Surprisingly, they also perform “Supper’s Ready” (which is often considered the greatest progressive rock epic ever) in its entirely, and boy do they pull it off.

Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is everything enthusiasts of the group’s ‘70s output could ask for. As I said, Hackett left just as the Rutherford, Collins, and Banks were veering into simpler, more commercial and cheesy creations, so everything he’s played on (and plays here) is fantastic. It’s also endearing to hear applause after almost every track, showcasing how appreciative and familiar the audience is. Clearly the set symbolizes a special bond between Hackett and his supporters (who probably thought they’d never get to hear this music performed live again). Whether you fall into that camp too or are a new listener, this album is a must own for fans of the genre.

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