What does it sound like?:
This is a live album from Steve Hackett’s gigs last year touring Genesis songs with a band, orchestra and choir. I went to one of the London shows and lost all the hearing in my right ear a day later which I don’t blame Steve for but the pass pedals generated frequencies which made your entire skeleton rattle so it may have been a contributing factor. Seriously though, it’s pretty epic sounding. A big band playing big prog numbers with a full orchestra and choir is not really going to sound small, lets face it.
The album opens with “Dancing on a volcano” from “Trick of the tail” with Steve’s signature guitar loud and proud centre stage. He was always an interesting player, focussing on melody and texture and various other guitar tricks to add variety (he was a very early adopter of the now ubiquitous tapping you hear all over metal albums). For the Genesis songs the band sensibly replicate the Genesis parts wherever they are key to the arrangement and the orchestra adds heft and drama aplenty. For Steve’s own material they stretch out more and extend the studio versions making full use of the opportunities offered by the orchestra. “The Steppes” from “Hackett” is magnificent with its eastern modes and changes of pace and dynamics. In truth I couldn’t hear the orchestra that well at the gig but it’s well mixed here without being cluttered. “Firth of Fifth” starts with a replica of the Tony Banks piano (could it not?) before the whole ensemble comes in – this is always a epic moment but here it’s ginormous. People have criticised Nad Sylvan’s vocals but I think he does a fine job here. the little flute breakdown before it goes full on proggy is played on an oboe with strings and is quite lovely and of course Steve’s signature guitar solo is a monster. The album wraps with “Supper’s Ready” and “A Musical Box” and we go home happy.
What does it all *mean*?
How many times have we written this? Against all the odds prog, well, let’s correctly call it progressive music still has an audience. You could argue trotting out 12 minute songs which were written 40 years ago is hardly progressive, but in truth they still stand well apart from the mainstream and that’s fine with me. Orchestra, on ice…bring it on. There are other options if it’s not for you.
Goes well with…
May depend to a degree on the the company you’re keeping, though Mrs. T can cope with a bit of Genesis in small doses. I like this stuff when I have half a mind on something else – driving…ironing…housework. I mean, you can’t dance to it anyway.
25th October 2019
Might suit people who like…
What do you think? Genesis, great epic sounding rock music.