Steve Hackett with orchestra and choir - "Musical Box"

Steve Hackett with orchestra and choir -

You don't necessarily have to be a Genesis fan to enjoy and appreciate Steve Hackett's virtuoso guitar playing, his band around singer Nad Sylvan (almost a copy of Peter Gabriel's voice) are also absolutely convincing in the intonation of the music from 1973 from the LPs "Foxtrott" and "Selling England by the pound".

If there is also support from the “Amici del Canto” choir and the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra in the almost solemn and festive ambience of the historic town hall of Wuppertal, the result can only be pure enjoyment. And so it was! Even on three evenings in a row and as an introduction to the planned tour in 2023. We were thrilled!

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Genesis' landmark album Selling England by the Pound

hackett wuppertal 2Whether you want to see it as a warm-up for this year's tour through numerous cities in Germany or rather as the result of years of trying by two music enthusiasts named Marcus Grebe and Michael Ackermann to provide a concert of superlatives that consists of a mixture of rock and classic. It is an open question, albeit with a long delay, because after all these concerts were supposed to take place in 2020 - due to Corona!

How it all began - Steve Hackett finds Genesis

In December 1970, looking for a "real" band, Steve Hackett published an ad in Melody Maker, which was so important in the music industry at the time: "Guitarist / songwriter is looking for open-minded musicians who are willing to defy existing, stagnant forms of music." idiosyncratic phrasing caught the attention of Peter Gabriel, whose band Genesis needed a replacement for founding member Anthony Phillips. After becoming convinced of each other's musical qualities, Hackett joined Genesis in the late 1970s.

Hackett, who had little live experience, contrasted with frontman Gabriel with his introverted demeanour, often hunched over his guitar with horn-rimmed glasses.

hackett wuppertal 4Hackett's first album with Genesis was Nursery Cryme, released in November 1971. The guitarist's contributions enriched the overall sound of the band, for example on the tracks "The Musical Box" and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed", on which he proved to be a pioneer of the tapping technique. His first contribution as a songwriter was the short acoustic piece "For Absent Friends", created in collaboration with Phil Collins. The spontaneous closing solo of "The Fountain of Salmacis" later counted as Hackett's artistic breakthrough in the band.

With the follow-up album Foxtrot in 1972, Genesis achieved their first major commercial success. In the clearly keyboard-heavy work by Anthony Banks, Hackett was primarily responsible for various atmospheric embellishments. His voluptuous sounds were particularly effective at the end of the suite "Supper's Ready", in the middle part of which he also attracted attention with a rapid solo. "Horizons" is the first of his acoustic instrumentals and is still his best known.

hackett wuppertal 5Electric guitar took centre stage again on 1973's Selling England by the Pound, later described by Hackett as his favourite album with the band. Which brings us back to the now. The instrumental "After the Ordeal" was largely a composition by Hackett. The smaller hit "I Know What I Like" was based on a Hackett riff, while the track "Firth of Fifth" featured the guitarist's showcase solo. At that time he was among the first to use the playing techniques of tapping and sweep picking, the introduction of which is often wrongly credited to Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen respectively. Both techniques can be heard in the song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight".

With the following double album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" Hackett went under in 1974, so that even in later years he always kept a certain distance from the conceptual work. Only a few tracks like "Fly on a Windshield", "Hairless Heart", "The Chamber of 32 Doors", "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist" and the final solo of "The Lamia" really gave him an opportunity to contribute.

Steve Hackett and his Les Paul - a love of life

hackett wuppertal 6The Les Paul (also called "Paula" by German-speaking guitarists in particular) is a very special electric guitar that has been manufactured by the US company Gibson since 1952. Developed under the leadership of Gibson President Ted McCarty in cooperation with the musician Lester William Polsfuss (artist name Les Paul) as an answer to the instruments of the competitor Fender, the Les Paul, as Gibson's first solid-body electric guitar, initially represented an exotic in the program of the Despite sluggish sales and a temporary suspension of production in 1961, the Les Paul quickly became the staple instrument of artists such as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and - at least in earlier years - Eric Clapton due to its warm, powerful sound over the course of the 1960s. When production resumed in 1968, the Les Paul became Gibson's most successful instrument. It is still manufactured today and is considered a classic among electric guitars alongside the Fender Stratocaster and Fender Telecaster.

hackett wuppertal 8In the 1970s, the Les Paul was used especially in the field of rock music. Well-known names include Steve Hackett from Genesis, Marc Bolan, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Peter Frampton, Gary Moore, Peter Green, Paul Kossoff from Free, Ace Frehley from KISS and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. Jeff Beck can be seen on the cover of his album Blow By Blow with the black Les Paul he used for the recording.

The song Money for Nothing by Dire Straits is often cited as an example of the dense, warm tone that the Les Paul produces. Mark Knopfler, guitarist for Dire Straits, is notorious for not using a pick. According to his own statements, he therefore plays a Les Paul for pieces that are supposed to sound "rocky" and therefore actually require the pick to be played.

Steve Hackett - reserved and humble - as you know him!

hackett wuppertal 9After a three-year wait, because the tickets to the fans had long since been sold, the time had finally come: on Sunday, April 16th, 2023, the last of three consecutive concert evenings with a strong performance by ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett with a band, Choir and orchestra, with presenter Klaus Fiehe saying a few introductory words.

The beginning with "Dance on a Volcano" was still equipped with some discordant tones, so the sound had to be tweaked a bit on the mixing desk, but after that the powerful sound spectacle in the town hall came across very well and the length of the applause was clearly evident after each piece extended. Because what the now 73-year-old Steve Hackett brought to the stage with his band, the choir "Amici del Canto" and the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra was really worthy of every honor. And so we can only advise fans of Genesis' early music to use the planned tour through Germany for a visit. Together with the classical symphony musicians under the direction of the Canadian conductor Bradley Thachuk, who obviously enjoyed working together, a wonderful sound from the material of the 70s was found:

hackett wuppertal 10"The fusion of rock and classic didn't end in kitsch, but provided that certain something in many places," says Bradley Thachuk. Like the monumental finale of "Shadow of the Hierophant" that threatened to shake the Stadthalle to its foundations. Ober in "Afterglow", which was wonderfully raised to a new vocal level by the "Amici del Canto".

With "The Musical Box" the right piece for the encore was found.

An unforgettable evening. Thanks to Steve Hackett, Marcus Grebe and Michael Ackermann.

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