Set in Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett delivered a two-and-a-half-hour performance that was close to a religious experience. Rarely has an audience been so eager with excitement, particularly for a 68-year-old prog-rock veteran. Coincidently, the evening just so happened to coincide with his birthday, too.
The set, split into two acts – first with solo efforts, then followed by towering, operatic Genesis cuts – was a show of immense music exquisitely played. Mr. Hackett and the band silently strolled on stage, starting things off with Please Don’t Touch. The sound was perfect, never failing to impress, every inch soaked in fog and elaborate lighting. However, despite being consummate musicians, they were an unlikely looking troupe. Save for Hackett’s tasteful scarf and threads, flautist Robert Townsend favoured a stylized military jacket while bassist Nick Beggs didn’t look out-of-place in a metal band. Then came the otherworldly aura of leader singer Nad Sylvan. Stepping out to preside over vocals of Genesis material, the androgynous frontman commanded the stage with his flowing blonde mane, soaring vocals, and dark puffy shirt. An extraordinarily accomplished chameleon, his timbre remained truer to Gabriel’s than Collins’. As a result, it gave fans a chance to hear the difference within the night’s predominately Collins-heavy set.
As the show’s main attraction, Mr. Hackett and his band placed special emphasis on each song’s sonic landscape. Moreover, with time given to fan favourites such as Inside and Out and Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, devotees of Genesis’s early catalogue ate up every moment. In fact, saving the best for last, a resounding take on the 22-minute Supper’s Ready satisfied anyone left wanting more. Steve Hackett gave Massey Hall exactly what they wanted: a gloriously played nostalgia trip into the book of Genesis and beyond.