My first live concert experience was seeing Genesis at Newcastle City Hall on the tour which was later recorded and released as the ‘Seconds Out’ album. Obviously, I still have strong memories of that show where I witnessed for the first time the noise, spectacle and sheer thrill of seeing a band bring their music to life on stage. It hooked me for life as live shows do with many people.

It was the final tour with the band for their guitarist that night, Steve Hackett. Hackett has proceeded with a successful solo career, releasing more than twenty five albums including the recent ‘Surrender of Silence’, which is a more rock influenced album than his last few releases.

Now, more than forty years later, Hackett is just completing his ‘Seconds Out’ UK dates in which he and his super-talented band perform that full album in sequence, as well as throwing in a selection of solo material in a short opening set.

I managed to catch two shows on the tour, first at Stockton’s newly reopened and lavish Globe Theatre last week (and from where the accompanying photos were taken) and last night at Harrogate Royal Hall.

That this tour has been taking place at the same time as Genesis have been touring arenas with their Last Domino tour - surely a swan song tour given Phil Collins’ well publicised health issues - is a weird coincidence, but it offered audiences a unique chance to compare and contrast.

For many, there are two distinct Genesis periods - the prog-rock years where Hackett and singer Peter Gabriel were with the band, and, for want of a better term, the chart years where, fronted by Collins, the band learned they could write pop songs and moved to writing shorter, radio friendly songs and went more mainstream.

York Press: Steve Hackett liveSteve Hackett live

In Harrogate, Hackett and band took the stage at around 7.45pm and performed a short set of solo material, opening with the brooding ‘Clocks – The Angel of Mons’. A track from the new album, ‘Held in The Shadows’ followed and heralded the first appearance of the evening from vocalist Nad Sylvan. It was then back to Hackett’s Spectral Morning’s album for ‘Every Day’.

New track ‘The Devils Cathedral’ was a real melting pot of influences – mixing elements of jazz, Messiaen-like organ and rock. ‘Shadow of the Hiereophant’ ended the short solo set and was a different, more truncated beast than last time I saw it performed when then bassist Nick Beggs sat crossed legged on the floor playing his bass pedals with his fists. But hey, that’s prog rock for you.

Thirty minutes later it was time for the main course – ‘Seconds Out’, in its entirety. First, it’s only right to pay credit to Hackett’s stellar band. Roger King on keyboards, Craig Blundell (drums), Jonas Reingold (bass), Rob Townsend (saxophone/flute), and Nad Sylvan (vocals). Arguably, Sylvan has the trickiest role, having to handle vocals on songs made legend by either Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins. It’s a thankless task, but Sylvan handles it with aplomb managing to balance on the tightrope of avoiding mimicry and bringing his own personality to the songs. It’s no small feat to achieve.

York Press: Epic showEpic show

The set began with ‘Squonk’, perhaps the most throwaway and whimsical of the evening’s tracks, and then it was the turn of an achingly beautiful version of ‘The Carpet Crawlers’. Sylvan superbly pulled off the delivery of ‘Robbery, Assault and Battery’ which was tailor made for Collins’ artful dodger persona.

‘Afterglow’ was sublime. A love song that builds to a crescendo and those iconic white strip lights appeared mid-song bathing the band in a couple of dozen white vertical spot lights. The effect remains stunning to this day and brought applause from the audience near me – at least those that didn’t have their camera phones out to capture the scene.

From here, the bar kept being raised. ‘Firth of Fifth’ and King’s superb keyboard playing was a high spot as he handled the key changes effortlessly and then, there it was, one of the most famous guitar solos in rock, delivered note perfectly by Hackett. The cheers at the finish made it obvious I wasn’t the only one entranced.

‘I Know What I Like’ which incredibly, made the UK singles charts was extended with some jazzy saxophone playing from Townsend. ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’ was sprightly and then we’d reached ‘Supper’s Ready’.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this track is progressive rock’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Anarchy in the UK’, ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. It’s a song that defines the genre. Twenty-three minutes of stimulant infused drama over different, distinct sections and time signatures. What’s not to like? And it passes far too quickly.

An epic ‘Cinema Show’ ran into ‘Aisle of Plenty’ bringing the show to a close, but we all knew there was more to come. ‘Dance On a Volcano began like a runaway juggernaut and led into Blundell’s drum solo. Finally, ‘Los Endos’ had grown men even up in the circle strumming air guitars and playing imaginary drum kits.

Including the break, the epic show finished almost three hours later. It needs to be said that the sound and especially the lighting was first class. Hackett’s shows are always well presented but Curran Lighting did an especially wonderful job.

As for Hackett he was with Genesis at their creative peak and the love he still has for the material is clear to see and hear. Long may he continue to combine his solo career with a retrospective nod to those early days that still mean so much for so many of us.