Thursday 8 October 2015

The disappearing moshpit: Steve Hackett: Shepherd's Bush Empire - 07 October 2015

I fainted in front of Phil Collins in 1980. Did I swoon to his version of ‘A groovy kind of love’? Well, luckily no. PC was still the Genesis frontman at the time and 35 years ago, at the Brighton Centre, I lost consciousness because I got encased in a very sweaty moshpit.

It’s hard to believe now, that as a teen prog fan, I girated around to the full twenty minute version of ‘Supper’s Ready’; and last night, as Genesis’s guitarist (until 1977) Steve Hackett, played his set, it was seating room only. The seats in the stalls were pyloned in. There was even a half-time break so that the predominantly male audience could relieve that 50+ year-old bladders.

I’ve seen Steve before doing just Genesis numbers so last night I was there for his solo stuff. Look: it’s deeply proggy but it took me back to a time listening to these songs with my sister’s boyfriend’s brother in his house in Brighton. For some, ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ is all prog nonsense. But last night, Steve Hackett’s guitar-playing was so good that this behemoth track was mesmerising.

I actually found the Genesis material disappointing because, if I’m honest, the set was for people who are even more Genesis-purists than me – there was nothing that wasn’t originally recorded before 1974. But Steve did it again with Firth of Fifth, to finish the evening. Another mesmerising performance. It was worth going just for that.

Collins and Hackett back in the day
And then the old men cheerily emptied their bladders again after the encore.

At the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, on levels one and two, you can actually stand if you want to, up against a wall. I did this and obviously used the wall for leverage, being over 50, for the whole three hours.

Because I just wish, in some small way, that I was down the front again, moshing and fainting to Steve Hackett…and Phil Collins.