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Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith CD (album) cover

GENESIS REVISITED: LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.50 | 108 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The DVD is better. After putting together the oh-so-enjoyable Genesis Revisted II, it was inevitable that a lengthy tour would follow with a lengthy live album and DVD, and Hackett obliged by putting out a 3-CD+2-DVD set of the band's 2013 show at the Hammersmith Apollo. The DVD (of the show; the second DVD is just some extras) is a blast; it's fascinating to watch Hackett and his small army work so hard to make these faithful-but-tweaked renditions come alive. Nad Sylvan (who sang "Chamber of 32 Doors," "The Musical Box" and "Eleventh Earl of Mar" on GRII) isn't a perfect stand-in for Gabriel, of course, but he's a reasonable Gabriel/Collins hybrid and he does well enough on the whole. Plus, it's a little oversimplified to just call him the vocalist; in the first half of the show, there's a stretch of nearly an hour in which the only song that features him on vocals is "The Musical Box" (the others in the stretch are "Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974," "The Lamia," "Shadow of the Hierophant," "Blood on the Rooftops," and the "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers .../...In That Quiet Earth/Afterglow" medley, which brings out John Wetton). As far as song selection, even a runtime of more than 2.5 hours will inevitably leave out some potentially great inclusions, but on the whole there's a good selection of songs from GRII plus faithful (to the originals) renditions of some tracks that had made it onto the original Genesis Revisited. I regretfully had to miss this tour when it came near Chicago (I only found out about it the day before and there was no way to make the logistics work), and I'm very happy to have this document as a reasonable proxy of what I missed.

As a live album, though, there are different standards to apply, and thus there are some nits to pick that I could overlook with the DVD. I feel like somewhat of an ingrate to note such a thing, but these are the third live renditions in six years (courtesy of the second disc of Out of the Tunnel's Mouth and Live Rails) of "Blood on the Rooftops," "Fly on the Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974" and "Firth of Fifth," and while I enjoy them plenty they're done pretty much identically to before (except that Sylan sings "Firth of Fifth" here whereas O'Toole had sung it previously). This is also the second rendition of "Los Endos" in four years (Live Rails again), and it's done pretty much identically to before, aside from the way that the "Moonlit Knight" excerpt from before is swapped out (it's unnecessary given that a full version of that song occurs earlier in the show) for an excerpt from "Slogans" (I do take some enjoyment at the fact that Hackett made sure to include a little bit of his non-Genesis solo material in his show, even though much of his audience had probably never heard a lick of it). That said, there is a really nice touch near the end of having Sylvan come back to sing the "Supper's Ready" reprise from the end of the original studio version. The material that appeared on GRII is essentially done here in a manner identical to how it was done on that album, and the one substantial change (using a single lead vocalist on "Supper's Ready" rather than the lineup used on the GRII version) doesn't strike me as an improvement (I like Sylvan plenty, but being the sole vocalist on a version of "Supper's Ready" is a terrific responsibility, and I'm not sure he totally lives up to it). It was a nice touch to open with "Watcher of the Skies," yes, and including "I Know What I Like" and "Dance on a Volcano" (again, close to the original versions, not the novelty versions of GR) helps to fill out the show well, but they don't feel like the most adventurous of choices.

For all of this, though, I feel like I'm somewhat missing the forest for the trees, and the forest is: "Holy cow, it's a Steve Hackett live album with all of this awesome Genesis stuff in 2013!!!" I mean, who would have thought that I'd be so happy to hear half of Wind and Wuthering done in a live setting at this late a date? Who would have thought that "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" or "The Lamia" or "Shadow of the Hierophant" or "Supper's Ready" would come back to the stage at this point with a prominent member of Genesis involved? And besides, Hackett tears it up; he'd always been skilled at adding little improvements to this material back when he'd been with Genesis, and this skill had only improved through time.

Overall, I enjoy this album a great deal when I listen to it, but I feel like I would value it more if GRII didn't already exist. A good comparison for this album, in my mind, is the Roger Waters live album In the Flesh that he put out in 2000, which documented a tour where he played a number of old Pink Floyd songs plus a sampling of his solo work (and which I would love if it weren't for the final song, which I dislike a great deal). Here's the thing, though: Waters hadn't just put out a corresponding album where he'd re-recorded a bunch of old Pink Floyd songs with his touring band, and thus the new renditions had a strong feeling of being necessary on some level. The renditions here are necessary in a way, yes, but with a big asterisk, and that's the main reason I can't rate this higher, even if part of me loves this album. Regardless, if you liked GRII, you'll almost certainly like this, and it's worth getting (especially since, again, the DVD of the same show comes with it).

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |

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