Steve Hackett, Orpheum Theatre

October 18, 2019

We all have albums that transported us. Back in the day, find the sweet spot between speakers or put on some headphones, maybe have a puff, close your eyes and just listen. Dark Side was at the top for many, but mine was Selling England By The Pound by Genesis. I went places. Fantastical places. 46 years later, the album still holds true and Steve Hackett brought it to life again from start to finish (plus an unreleased track that didn’t make the cut) during the second set of his current tour.

Hackett tours most years and the 1920’s Orpheum Theatre in DTLA has become his Los Angeles living room (capacity about 2K). The first of his two sets covered much of Hackett’s post-Genesis career, which I am less familiar with. The six-piece band (including Hackett) was muscular and dynamic throughout with shout outs to all, Rob Townsend on sax, flute and keys; Roger King on keys; Jonas Reingold on bass and 12-string; Craig Blundell on drums, and, Nad Sylvan on vocals. Blundell, seated behind a monster double-kick Paiste kit owned the stage at the end of the first set with an extended solo, and the flurry from Reingold’s Rickenbacker was just spot on throughout. While Hackett has a devoted and enthusiastic fan base, the opportunity to hear Selling England rendered live in its entirety was a Genesis reunion-short bucket list event that filled every seat. From the sad beauty of “Dancing With the Moonlit Night” to an extended jazz infused jam on “I Know What You Like (In Your Wardrobe)” followed by the epic “Firth of Fith”. “The Cinema Show” and “Aisle of Plenty”which close the album stirred this soul as it did on first spin. “Deja Vu”, never made the album but closed the set before the encore of “Dancing on a Volcano” from the band’s first post-Gabriel effort, Trick of the Tail. Other than an acoustic 12-string, Hackett hung with his Les Paul styled Fernandes, a change of pace from the droolable racks of gear most guitar kings have in tow, and he was engaging throughout the evening, chatting about every tune. 

Big props to the tour’s lighting designer, as well, with excellent use of colors, direction and hot lights from the first tune on that made for great shooting and pinpoint drama to match the sounds from the stage. At the end of it all, the audience was on its feet for what seemed like five minutes. It was one of the warmest and rousing ovations I’ve heard in some time.

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