The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Some context is in order, I think. Seconds Out, by Genesis (a live double album, as was the fashion), was my first proper album (I’m excluding Follow, Follow Rangers). I was given it – at my own request – for Christmas 1977, when I was 15. I’m not entirely sure why – I was mildly obsessed with hifi equipment at the time (we had none) and I’d read a review in a hifi magazine that had caught my interest, I think. I was astonished by the music; it was like nothing else I’d ever heard. My previous experience of music was either Top of the Pops, Radio1 or what my parents listened to (The Clancy Brothers, mainly). But this was something else entirely. It was at turns melancholy and exhilarating, constantly twisting and changing. And the lyrics! Creatures that dissolved in their own tears, urban lambs, angels standing in the sun. It was a world about as far away from a council estate in central Scotland as could be imagined. And maybe that was why I fell for it quite so hard. I pieced my experience of music backwards and forwards from there and, in time, I found I didn’t want to listen to it any more.
Fast forward 40 years or so and Steve Hackett, erstwhile Genesis guitarist, is touring the Seconds Out album in its entirety. I decide to go and check it out, essentially motivated by nostalgia. It could have been awful – I hadn’t listened to that album for a while and my tastes have changed – maybe I wouldn’t like the songs? Maybe the whole evening would collapse in a welter of ‘I am my own tribute band’ ridiculousness? However, none of those things were the case. Reader, it was bloody marvellous.
A short set of solo/new album stuff was fine. After an interval, Seconds Out was played in its entirety, in order. And what a fantastic set of material it is. The thing that struck me about those Genesis songs is how packed full of melody it they are. There’s always something new and interesting happening, and that something usually involves a memorable tune. The band played with genuine enthusiasm, which was reciprocated by the audience. I really didn’t expect people to start singing along, en masse, to Supper’s Ready, or to give a spontaneous standing ovation at the end.
While the band stayed pretty close to the original, there were changes that I guess Hackett, as co-composer, felt able to make. There was a really good use of soprano sax, for example. The band obviously know their chops – these are complex pieces, after all – but special mention of Nad Sylvan, doing the vocals. Close enough to Gabriel/Collins to carry it off but not so similar that it was tributey.
In short, a much-loved blast from my past that left me remembering (and feeling) why I loved it so much and how much it had meant to me. I commend it to the House.
Well. Let’s just say it was a fair bet that we’d all been double-jabbed. But where were all these people when I was 15 and thought I was the only person in the world who liked this music?
It made me think..
Genesis really were a very, very good band and the music they made stands up well. Steve Hackett is doing a rendition that is somehow manages to be both faithful and fresh. I’m really glad I went.