Steve Hackett at Casino du Lac Leamy Theatre
Hackett addressed the beyond enthusiastic audience a number of times throughout the set, doing his best with his limited French but doing far better in English, when he first spoke to the crowd after "Watcher of the Skies," saying "The abandoned ship of Genesis is back with a ghost crew." With Townsend covering a number of reed and woodwind instruments (including pennywhistle and recorder), as well as giving King some extra oomph with additional mellotron parts, his instrumental harmonies with Hackett on songs like Trick of the Tail's "Dance on a Volcano" and (not played together, as Genesis so often did) the same album's closer, "Los Endos" (where Sylvan appeared onstage for its one vocal line, "There's an angel standing in the sun") he was but one demonstration that this may have been a ghost crew, but it was one hell of a good one, capable of things Genesis was unable to do back in the day, like executing Hackett's overdubbed guitar parts in performance.
The set's pinnacle was, of course, Genesis' 25-minute epic, "Supper's Ready," from Foxtrot, and if Sylvan's performance wasn't already beyond good enoughand it washe also demonstrated a stamina that Gabriel didn't have back in the day. As charismatic and captivating as he was, Gabriel's voice was rarely able to make it through a full set without losing his upper rangeone of the reasons why he insisted on overdubbing his vocal parts when the Genesis released Genesis Archives 1967-75 (Atlantic, 1998), a decision met with considerable anger from his fans as his voice had deepened and become much huskier in the two decades since he left the group, though he had managed to address his stamina issues, making his new vocal overdubs far too obvious.
Two encores: an epic "Firth of Fifth," from Selling England By The Pound, where King restored the album's intro after Banks had excised it from live performance early on; and a finale that began with a hard-rocking intro which, after a brief pass through Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, found its way to "Los Endos."
It was a powerful conclusion to an evening that found Hackett and his group performing at the absolute top of their game. While any new music from Hackett is most welcome, it's important that he continue to keep the music of Genesis alive whether as a small part of his regular live concerts or, as here, in a more concentrated effort that focuses exclusively on the music that, at least amongst progressive rock fans (and, based on his comments about sales, a group of people that continues to grow), has made him a household name. With a set this captivating, and performed by a group this good, Hackett's success deserves to translate into success for each and every member of the band, but in particular for Sylvan, a singer who placed in the unenviable position of filling some massive shoes, but who succeeded in doing so not through imitation, but through respectful reverence, the occasional total irreverence, and a commanding stage presence that suggests following him in whatever his next endeavor is will be a very good idea, indeed.
All Photos: John Kelman