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Steve Hackett with Band and Orchestra

Genesis Revisited: Live At The Royal Festival Hall

New concert film on 2CD/DVD and 2CD/Blu-ray

Last year Steve Hackett played a UK tour with his band and a full orchestra. The setlist contained some solo favorites, but mainly Genesis classics. We have two reviews about that tour online: One is a more generel one, covering four shows (click here) and the other one is about the show in London, Royal Festival Hall, 4th Oct. 2018 (click here). This show was also recorded and filmed and is now available in different formats: You can either buy s 2CD/Blu-ray or a 2CD/DVD. The content is nearly the same, but the DVD does not contain any bonus material. There is also a digital live album available.

Band wwith Orchestra

The concerts features Steve Hackett's live band from 2018, so you see and hear Roger King (Keyboards), Gary O'Toole (Drums), Rob Townsend (Sax and other intruments), Nad Sylvan (Vocals) and Jonas Reingold on bass. In addition, there are some special guests: John Hackett and Amanda Lehmann, amnd of course the Heart Of England Orchestra (41 musicians), conducted by Bradley Thachuk.

order the set here:

2CD/Blu-ray: amazonUK | amazonFR | HackettStore
2CD/DVD: HackettStore
Digital Album: iTunes

General information

Steve Hackett plays classic Genesis songs with an orchestra. That’s a powerful statement. Genesis fans will, of course, listen to how the songs are done – Hackett fans will examine how much of Steve is in these shows.
The 2018 UK tour was a big success, and several shows were added to the itinerary. Quite a logistical effort because you need to get the band and the crew and a full orchestra and their equipment from A to B. It has become something of a tradition that Steve Hackett’s new show are released on DVD and blu-ray at some point (and also as traditional live album either digitally or on a CD that is usually bundled with the set). This time it took a bit longer. In an interview Steve gave us earlier this year he revealed that his team’s work schedule was so tight that the release would take a bit longer…

Format and content

The concert film has now appeared, roughly a year after the tour. It was released in a 2CD/DVD or a 2CD/Blu-ray set in October 2019. If you are only interested in having the digital album you can buy it from iTunes or amazonMP3. The Blu-ray menu (this review is based on the Blu-ray) plays Shadow Of The Hierophant while it lets us choose sound options as well as individual tracks. There are also a 40-minutes documentary and three music videos. This bonus material is not included in the DVD, however.

Band and lineup

Steve Hackett’s band are all there. For Gary O’Toole the 2018 shows also meant his farewell from the band. The Heart Of England Philharmonic Orchestra are there, too, with their conductor Bradley Thachuck. Steve has also worked with him before, e.g. at a concert with orchestra show in Buffalo in 2016.
Steve is also joined by a number of special guests. This time it was Amanda Lehman and John Hackett. With Steve and John’s mother in the audience it was a kind of homecoming and family reunion.

The video and the tracks

Though the release is called Genesis Revisited With Band And Orchestra, there are a number of Steve’s solo pieces in the set. The concert begins with a Genesis classic, though, Dance On A Volcano. They begin with the important orchestral sound as Gary plays a drum kit with a big sound. This track sets the style for the whole film. Nad Sylvan proves again that he quite up to his role of singing Collins songs and Gabriel songs (and Hackett songs as well). It is not just on Dance On A Volcano that he puts his voice and the opportunities it offers him to good use.
Two solo tracks are up next. Out Of The Body is a surprising choice, but the way the orchestra plays in it is perfect (special kudos to the wind instruments); it was a good choice for Steve to use them. There is almost no transition before The Steppes begins, another big classic of Steve’s.
Firth Of Fifth always draws special attention. The song gains very much from the orchestra, though little of it can be heard initially. It builds up, though. Of course they leave enough space for Steve’s legendary solo. It might have been interesting to hear the orchestral version from his first Genesis Revisited album. This is not complaint, but it could have been a big surprise (or a big “what’s going on here?”) for many. All in all, the rock band retains the lead role throughout the show. The orchestra add a lot of musical bombast to the second part of Steve’s solo – and Nad Sylvan does a brilliant job at singing it.
The same is true for Dancing With The Moonlit Knight – the perfect symbiosis of rock and classical music. I felt I was listening to the complete, definitive version. Kudos!
Blood On The Rooftops is a bit emotional. The orchestra plays restrained. It is wonderful to see Steve’s interesting guitar work – and seeing that Gary O’Toole sang for the last time this song he has always loved singing. Thank you for those moments, Gary!
There is not much time to breathe because Shadow Of The Hierophant demands the full attention. Steve usually plays only the second half of the song, but with Amanda Lehmann around he plays the full version. As he does here, with the orchestra. The song seems made for an orchestral version. The orchestra really comes into its own in the second half before it moves into a grand finale with striking brass and string instruments. How much bigger can this song get? And: Is there a Hackett song that is as much Genesis as this one?
The concert goes into an interval at this point. The blu-ray doesn’t, of course. I always regret that In That Quiet Earth is not preceded by Unquiet Slumber For The Sleepers, the more so as it all segues seamlessly into Afterglow. These are intense pieces, particularly the second part of In That Quiet Earth.
Two more solo songs follow. John Hackett joins the band on stage with his flute for Serpentine Song. Steve dedicates the song to his father. It is an opportunity to catch your breath, a moment for quiet sounds before the show continues with El Nino. Like Out Of The Body it is not an obvious choice, but the album did involve a number of musicians on the album. The band and the orchestra have a lot of fun playing this track, and it emerges that this is really rather one body of musicians instead of “the band and the orchestra”.
The finale is as big as they come – Supper’s Ready is always a safe bet. Nad delivers a strong performance, and orchestra are integrated very well into the song with lots of dynamism. The Apocalypse is chock full of drama and the ending is extended very, very much. Lots of Hackett in the finale, lots of emotion…
The encore of The Musical Box is sort of split in halves. We hear mainly the band in the first half while the orchestra has its strong moments in the second half. The audience rise for standing ovations, and a two-hour concert is over …

Steve Hackett

Sound and image

The sound is very good from the beginning to the end. Evidently a conservative or defensive mix was chosen for the 5.1 surround sound. The center and the rear speakers have mostly the audience and some of the echo, whereas the almost comes almost exclusively from the standard speakers left and right. Because of, or despite, that the recording captures the sound of the orchestra and gives it a prominent space alongside the band. The sound is very clear. You can hear many details even in crowded moments.

The video footage is very good, too. The camera moves calmly, showing many details, frequently from a bird’s eye view. There are a very few moments when the camera setting seems odd, e.g. when the camera focuses on Steve’s guitar and the image oscillates between clear and blurred. Or the camera zooms into the audience in fits and starts. Those are, however, negligible things. With the camera not hectically switching from A to B you can enjoy the show.

The bonus material

Buyers of the Blu-ray can watch an entertaining bonus feature, a brief tour documentary. Everybody involved have their say and you get a glimpse of the rehearsals and the backstage area.
The three music videos for Under The Eye Of The Sun, Beats In Our Time and Peace as bonus material in the literal sense, for all those songs are from At The Edge Of Light – which had not even come out when the orchestra shows took place.

So then ….

I won’t beat about the bush: The album and the concert film are a must have for all fans of Hackett and/or Genesis. You cannot have it more intense. Genesis fans get to hear interesting Hackett songs as a strong recommendation, and the band are in great shape. Simply brilliant!

By Christian Gerhardts [10/2019], English by Martin Klinkhardt


CoverCD 1:
Dance On A Volcano
Out Of The Body
The Steppes
Firth of Fifth
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Blood On The Rooftops
Shadow of the Hierophant

CD 2:
In That Quiet Earth
Serpentine Song
El Nino
Supper's Ready

The Musical Box


Dance On A Volcano
Out Of The Body
The Steppes
Firth of Fifth
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Blood On The Rooftops
Shadow of the Hierophant
In That Quiet Earth
Serpentine Song
El Nino
Supper's Ready
The Musical Box

only on Blu-ray:
Behind the Scenes Feature
Under The Eye Of The Sun (Promo Video)
Beasts In Our Time (Promo Video)
Peace (Promo Video)

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