On Thursday just over a week ago, I, together with my wife and a prog rock friend, went to see Steve Hackett’s penultimate concert on his current tour. A great musician in his own right, he is often best identified as Genesis’ former guitarist. It was a very special evening for several reasons.

Firstly, a Steve Hackett concert in Birmingham, UK, was the first date between me and my new girlfriend. It was just him on guitar and his brother John on various woodwind instruments. When a rock musician strips back to such a simple setup, their skill as an instrumentalist (or lack thereof) is immediately exposed. It was a tour de force and we were both very impressed. Clearly this was a good start to our relationship as we’ve been married over 30 years!

Secondly, my friend is a talented musician who has played keyboards for a Swedish Genesis tribute band—and he is, therefore, a great fount of knowledge concerning all things Genesis, and valuable commentator at such an event. He gave me an unexpected aside as the concert was starting: the lead singer in Steve’s band, also a Swede, had been a lead singer in his own band in the past.

Finally, it was a really great concert.

Cirkus in Stockholm is a relatively small, intimate venue, so there’s no need for massive screens to see the performers on a distant stage. The evening was split into two. The first half was Steve’s own material much of which I was familiar with. Steve started and finished the session with excerpts from Voyage of the Acolyte; a solo album that he made whilst still being a member of Genesis. The second half was dominated by a complete performance of Genesis’s 4th album, Foxtrot. It contains classic songs like Watcher of the Skies and Supper’s Ready. I last heard the latter live whilst on holiday in Barcelona. I spotted Musical Box, the Canadian Genesis tribute band, on a poster and, abandoning our teenage daughters for the evening—in a complete role reversal—we spontaneous launched ourselves across the city to the venue. As Steve and his band played the whole album, I really enjoyed hearing the other songs from the record: songs which I suspect have rarely been heard live since the 1970s.

Then there was the encore.

An unmistakable piano introduction and they launched into my favourite Genesis song, Firth of Fifth. My friend has previously told me this is the favourite audition piece for anybody wanting to play keyboards in a Genesis tribute band. Genesis themselves haven’t played the whole track for a long time, skipping the introductory piano. I listened to a YouTube interview recently with Roger King, Steve’s keyboard player. He explained that Tony Banks abandoned this impressive piano piece because it wasn’t possible to play properly with the older electronic pianos. Roger, with modern technology and great skill, made a fantastic job of it on this occasion. The other highlight in this piece is Steve’s soaring guitar solo, which he played so evocatively, and without the frilly embellishments that Genesis’ touring guitarist superimposes on the song.

Within the last couple of years, I have seen Genesis for the first and last time, Steve Hackett for the second time and this coming week Peter Gabriel for the umpteenth time. Gabriel is the artist I’ve seen most live over the last few decades. His live shows have been consistently outstanding. I would have loved to have seen Genesis or Steve with the same frequency, but never had the opportunity.  And now back to science and science fiction, although Watcher of the Skies, the track that launches us into Foxtrot, is pure SF!