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Steve Hackett live in Tokio 1996

Steve Hackett - Live in Japan 1996

Concert review of the shows on December 16 and 17

Completely unexpectedly, Steve Hackett had his very first live performances in Japan in December 1996. The main reason for the four concerts Steve played in Japan was the release of his latest album Genesis Revisited, which was released in Japan on August 24, 1996. While still recording this album, Steve said in an interview for a Japanese music magazine that it was quite possible that he would come to Japan because of his latest album. He then mentioned in another interview that the band he would bring to Japan would consist of a true "all-star lineup." "All-star lineup" - with such an announcement, of course, it was immediately obvious that the lineup would consist of some well-known musicians who were also featured on Genesis Revisisted. The short tour was announced on October 7, 1996. Besides Steve Hackett the following musicians played in the band: 

Chester Thompson (drums)
John Wetton (vocals / bass)
Ian McDonald (keyboards / flute/ saxophone / guitar)
Julian Colbeck (keyboards)

Except for Julian Colbeck, who has worked with Steve for more than six years, the band lineup was a surprise to progressive rock fans. Chester Thompson has previously played with Steve on Genesis' Wind & Wuthering tour. In addition, Chester contributed to Steve's second solo album, Please Don't Touch, and he was one of the three drummers who drummed on Genesis Revisited. So his presence was no surprise to most concertgoers. For some Genesis fans, however, it was a surprise to see Chester, since he had announced his retirement from touring with Genesis and Phil Collins not long ago. John Wetton, known as singer and bassist with Family, King Crimson, RoxyMusic, Uriah Heep, Asia etc., had contributed to two Genesis classics Watcher Of The Skies and Firth Of Fifth on Genesis Revisited. One of the co-founders of King Crimson and a fantastic multi-instrumentalist is Ian McDonald. In the band lineup, he was probably the biggest surprise as he did not play on Genesis Revisited. Also, Ian had been off the music scene since the early eighties after leaving Foreigner after three successful albums. Recently, Steve had mentioned in an interview that he had known Ian McDonald since the late sixties. The acquaintance came about many years ago through a member of Quiet World, a band Steve played in before joining Genesis. Julian Colbeck is well known to progressive rock fans since he toured with ABWH (Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe) in 1990. Julian has been working with Steve since 1989.

Japan, Tokyo, 16 & 17 Dezember 1996

The two concerts took place on December 16 and 17, 1996 in Tokyo at the 2,000-seat Shinjuku Kosei Nenkin Hall. Genesis had already played in this hall during their world tour in 1978. Only eight varilites were mounted above the stage, and a total of eight television cameras recorded the action for a Japanese pay TV channel. After the musicians entered the stage, a single beam of light illuminated one of Julian Colbeck's three keyboards.

Steve Hackett Tokyo 1996 Flyer (provided by George German)Like in old Genesis days the concert started with Watcher Of The Skies. Another opener would probably have been unthinkable. Due to the fog on stage, which was used for the TV recording, John Wetton couldn't recognize the note with the lyrics, which led to some lyrical mistakes creeping in while singing. The band had had only ten days to rehearse and John Wetton had joined the band only the day before the first concert. Watcher Of The Skies was followed by Riding The Colossus, an instrumental from the Genesis Revisited album, first released in 1990 as Depth Charge on the live-album Time Lapse. After Steve greeted the audience in Japanese (!), he announced the next song as "a number from Selling England By The Pound." Firth Of Fifth followed, which to everyone's surprise was played without a piano intro. The flute solo in the middle part of the song was originally played by Peter Gabriel, but after he left the band, Tony Banks took over this passage. On Genesis Revisited Steve played this part on acoustic guitar. As was to be expected, Ian put his guitar aside on this song and played the said sequence on the flute. For many fans, however, the fact that Steve did not play his famous guitar solo in Firth Of Fifth was incomprehensible. This was followed by Battle Lines, a track from John Wetton's last studio album, Voice Mail.

Now Steve introduced all the musicians to the audience. One of Steve's favorite songs from the album Highly Strung, Camino Royale, was then played. Steve added solos on guitar and harmonica. In addition, Ian McDonald on saxophone played both a solo and two duets with Steve on guitar, which was also the biggest difference from the original version and the version on Time Lapse. Julian Colbeck also played a short solo in this piece. When the keyboard intro to In The Court Of The Crimson King sounded, a thunderous applause followed. This 1969 progressive rock classic was written by Ian McDonald, who played the keyboards and flute exactly as on the album of the same name. This song was one of the highlights of this concert and was a very nostalgic moment for the audience. The guitar part originally played by Robert Fripp on acoustic guitar was played by Steve in a slightly different, but very delicate and impressive way on electric guitar. John, Ian and Chester left the stage for the now following acoustic part.

Steve sat down on a piano stool and played Horizons for the audience. This 1972 piece Steve had written under the influence of his favorite composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Walking Away From Rainbows, another beautiful piece Steve played with Julian on keyboard, followed. John Wetton and Ian McDonald returned to the stage with acoustic guitars in their hands. Steve announced the next song by saying, "Here's another one from John." An acoustic version of Heat Of The Moment, one of the biggest hits from Asia's debut album, was then heard. This song was sung by John, playing guitar. He was accompanied by Steve and Ian, who also played guitar. This was followed by a song that Steve has often played at his concerts, ... In That Quiet Earth. This instrumental track by Genesis is from the Wind & Wuthering album. As on the Time Lapse album, only the first part of the track was played. First Ian played the flute in unison with the guitar, before reaching for the saxophone to perform a short solo on it. This was followed by a keyboard solo from Julian.

After that, Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite was played. This rocking number, sung with a disguised voice, is from the Guitar Noir album. On December 16, Steve used a small megaphone to disguise his voice, much like on the album. The following day he refrained from doing so. Perhaps the reason was the TV cameras present. The whole arrangement of the song was exactly the same as the studio version. John Wetton announced the next song as follows: "This is another song by Ian, which also features his flute playing". This was was about I Talk To The Wind, another wonderful ballad from King Crimson's debut album, penned by Ian McDonald. Ian not only played flute on this track, but also sang some verses and choruses together with John. I Talk To The Wind represented another highlight for the old King Crimson fans among the concert visitors. Without any announcements the band started to play a mystical melody. Some people in the audience seemed to recognize the sequence immediately. It was the final part of Shadow Of The Hierophant, which is on Steve Hackett's first solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte. Similar to Phil Collins of both studio versions, Chester increasingly improvised on this number, so at some point the other band members stopped playing to give him the opportunity for a drum solo.

This drum solo then evolved into the intro to what is arguably one of Genesis' most powerful instrumentals, Los Endos. While from 1977 to 1987 this track evolved live into drum duets between Chester and Phil, the original version was a jazz fusion piece composed by Phil. Ian played the flute in unison with Steve's guitar, much as Tony Banks did on the keyboard for the studio version. Los Endos included a short sequence of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight from the Selling England By The Pound album. To be enjoyed was the legendary tapping technique of Steve Hackett. From this part the band moved into a kind of jazzy improvisation featuring Ian on saxophone. After this sequence, the Dance On A Volcano part of Los Endos began, with the melody played on keyboard and saxophone compared to the studio version. After some "scratching" sounds, made by Steve on his guitar, the Squonk part of Los Endos followed, just like the original. The melody was played only by Ian on the flute. John Wetton played on a red Telecaster, operating the bass pedals, just like Mike Rutherford did back then. The whole thing left the impression of a new version of Los Endos, and one could well imagine that this was the version that was announced as a bonus track for Genesis Revisited. After this track, the band left the stage. Ironically, many attendees chanted "John!" instead of the actual main act. Steve Hackett returned to the stage alone. In his hands he held a nylon acoustic guitar. For the Genesis fans in the audience, he played short parts from Blood On The Rooftops, Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers and Cuckoo Cocoon, which were combined into a medley. Seamlessly, Steve added Black Light, another acoustic piece. Black Light is from the Bay Of Kings album.

Ticket Tokyo 1996 (provided by George German)After that, the other band members took the stage again. A strong instrumental piece from the Defector album, The Steppes, followed. This track incorporated both a flute and a guitar solo. The band then left the stage again. However, all the musicians stepped back into the spotlight. They now played I Know What I Like, Genesis' first hit single in 1973. On the first day of the two concerts in Tokyo, which was December 16, I Know What I Like was played after I Talk To The Wind. However, after realizing that this song enjoyed a great popularity, they decided to change the order of the set. On Genesis Revisited there is quite a funny version of I Know What I Like. However, the band played a version closer to the original at the concerts in Japan. Ian didn't take over the flute part that Peter Gabriel once played. Instead, Steve offered a guitar solo. Steve sang, similar to what Peter did with Phil in the old Genesis days, together with John Wetton.

Looking back, it was a special experience to see and hear Steve Hackett's accomplished guitar playing live. This was true not only for the Genesis fans, but certainly for the King Crimson fans who traveled to see the show. Chester delivered a professional job and was a true backbone for this band. We will certainly miss him on the next Genesis tour. Some John Wetton fans were certainly disappointed as very little material by this artist was played. The fact that Ian McDonald was included certainly reinforced the perception that these shows were something very special.

Author: Hisao Chida

The concert on 17 December 1996 was filmed for the live album The Tokyo Tapes. You can find a review here. The Tokyo Tapes is available as 2CD/DVD (live album and concert film) at CherryRed.

The article was first published in Germany's it-magazine #22, published in March 1997. To celebrate the reissue of the live album, we decided to make that article available again online. However, we could not find the English version we received from Hisao back in 1997, so this is a re-translation from our article published in German language. Should Hisao Chida read this, please contact Christian - thanks.

The images of the flyer & tickets were kindly provided by George German! Thank you very much.
We also thank Hisao for his concert report!

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