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Copernicus Center

Live Review: Steve Hackett at Copernicus Center • Chicago

| May 7, 2022

    Steve Hacket and his band (Photo: Steven Kikoen)



Steve Hackett

Copernicus Center

Chicago, IL

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Reviewed by Steven Kikoen

I first saw Steve Hackett live at The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago in the ‘70s. It was the first Genesis tour after the departure of Peter Gabriel. The previous year, I had been promised a ticket to see their closing show of the US tour for The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis bookended that tour by beginning and ending it in Chicago – the city where Genesis had the most significant record sales).

But as fate would have it, my college buddy at the time informed me that my ticket was going to be used by a female fan in his co-ed dorm who he fancied. Such is college life. Being an enormous fan of their incredibly talented and charismatic frontman Peter Gabriel, I accepted it and figured I’d see him on the next Genesis tour. Little did I (or any of us know) that The Lamb tour would be Peter’s last.

So there I was a year later (1976) with Genesis back in Chicago with Bill Bruford on drums and Phil Collins as frontman (and secondary drummer) on the heels of their tremendous first post-Gabriel release, A Trick of The Tail, and finally being able to see Steve Hackett and the boys live was breathtaking. Being a guitarist and singer myself with strong Prog leanings, I was always drawn to Steve’s amazing ability to generate not only just the right guitar parts for his and his colleagues’ sublime Genesis compositions, but his unique and imaginative way of creating atmospheres – especially in a decade where technology was challenging – was especially impressive.

Fast forward to last Thursday at the Copernicus Center in Chicago. Hackett had pleased so many of the Genesis faithful with his “Genesis Revisited” series of recordings that began back in 1997 and has grown exponentially since then, and plenty of that concept was in evidence at the Copernicus Center. His current tour is entitled “Seconds Out + More.” The show was divided into two parts with the first set containing material from his solo career, which included two songs from Spectral Mornings (“Clocks – The Angel of Mons,” and the always enjoyable “Every Day”), two songs from Surrender of Silence (“Held in the Shadows” and “The Devil’s Cathedral”), and one song from Voyage of the Acolyte (“Shadow of the Hierophant”).

After the intermission, set two comprised all of the material from Seconds Out, played in the exact order of the double album. The great news here is that there is no question Steve Hackett and his band are the best things going for worldwide Genesis fans.

Steve’s skills have not diminished in the least and have only gotten better – as has his physical appearance. Being 72 years young, Hackett proves he has a direct quarter-inch input to the Fountain of Youth! His playing is at once acrobatic as it is atmospheric. And at the end of “Supper’s Ready,” the still mind-blowing Genesis epic that never disappoints, Hackett was in phenomenal form, demonstrating his ring/slide technique and tapping technique that he mastered long before the ‘eruption’ of Edward Van Halen. Interestingly toward the end of the show, I overheard a couple of fans behind me say something I had noticed as well – they never once saw Hackett have to tune his guitar. And in fact, Steve was gloriously in tune all evening, which speaks well of his beloved Fernandes guitar.

There were several standing ovations throughout the evening, but the ovation after “Supper’s Ready” was deafening and long-lasting. These were all defining moments in our musical lives, not to mention defining moments in the lives of those composers and players.

Hackett and his band of stellar musicians were in perfect sync. Longtime lead vocalist Nad Sylvan was in splendid form. Getting the many nuances of both a Peter Gabriel and a Phil Collins vocal is quite a feat, and Nad accomplished this with no difficulty. His stage presence was well received; he is a great asset to the group. Jonas Reingold was superb on bass, guitar, and double-neck six and 12-stringed guitar. When he stepped on the synthesized bass pedals during those moments, such as the extended instrumental section in the middle of the seminal “Cinema Show,” when everyone felt the bass entering their stomach, it was pretty memorable.

Roger King handled the keyboards with ease and made even the most challenging [Genesis] Tony Banks parts look easy, highlighted by his stunningly beautiful solo piano intro to Firth of Fifth. Rob Townsend, in many ways, was the glue that held everything together. His saxophone and flute playing throughout the evening were exemplary. He provided just the right amount of magic and complemented what Hackett and the rest of the band were doing. I especially liked the jazz section of “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” where Townsend shined. The other half of the rhythm section was the outstanding Craig Blundell. Many celebrity musicians have a saying about drummers, no matter whose name is on the marquis, the true leader of a band is its drummer. Never was this more true than Thursday night at the Copernicus Center. Blundell’s drumming was, in a word, perfect. His time was golden, and his chops were phenomenal. He was showcased in a drum solo during the encore (that also included “Dance On A Volcano” and Los Endos”) that was a terrific display of his skills.

We all took “a little trip back,” and the future looks amazing.

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