Steve Hackett Band
May 25, 2010 - Mezz, Breda (NL)
Former Genesis-guitarist Steve Hackett and his band gave in 2009 two excellent concerts in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend any of these shows due to circumstances. For me a good reason to visit a Dutch concert this year, whatever it would take. Thank God I managed to be one of the approximately two-hundred visitors who went to the rather new Mezz-venue in Breda to witness this guitar legend perform. Well, it proved to be a good choice, because his performance was breathtaking. For the six musicians on stage it didn't matter that the venue was not completely sold out. They just gave everything they could: superb progressive rock music from the beginning till the end! Wow, this was certainly one of the best live performances I witnessed this year.
With the sound of taped Arabian music, the musicians entered the stage one by one. They kicked off with an extended version of Mechanical Bride, one of Steve's new classic pieces. It's a rather aggressive and noisy piece from the album To Watch The Storms (2003). Another track from this album, the fine ballad Serpentine Song, became a classic piece as well. This one shows that Steve doesn't have to play in a high gear to showcase that he's an excellent musician and composer. In Memoriam from the Darktown-album (1999) is a similar kind of song, but was left out of the set this time. Fire On The Moon, the opening piece from his latest album Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth, is another good example of how great his mellow tunes are. As far as I'm concerned this is a classic piece either. Of course, Steve had to promote his latest album and thus it was obvious that the emphasis was on that album. The audience could enjoy Emerald And Ash, Sleepers and Still Waters. All these tracks got very strong live versions compared to the original studio tracks. However, this time drummer Gary O'Toole played the rhythm parts and made the songs more live sounding. Behind his drumkit, he also sang the old Genesis-tracks, from the period that Mr. Hackett was still a band member. The audience loved the strong versions of The Carpet Crawlers, Firth Of Fifth, Fly On A Windshield, Los Endos and Blood On The Rooftops a lot. Many people in the audience sang along with these songs.
Blood On The Rooftops was performed after an acoustic intermezzo featuring Roger King (keyboards), Rob Townsend (flutes, saxes and whistles) and Steve. The final part of this more or less unplugged set, Steve played alone on his acoustic guitar and performed the Genesis-evergreen Horizons, which was welcomed with a warm applause from the audience. It's self-evident that a number of pieces of Steve's early solo albums were on the set list too. In the past, he made a great number of classic progressive rock pieces that made him a professional solo artist. It was very enjoyable to hear songs like Every Day, Spectral Mornings and Ace Of Wands again. All these pieces were performed very well by this excellent live band. Maybe Ace Of Wands sounded a bit different due to the dominant contribution of Rob Townsend on flutes and whistles, but it still was a real treat to listen to. The encore of this fine concert was Clocks, another track of the Spectral Mornings -album (1979) presenting a short drum solo by Mr. O'Toole.
The most remarkable musicians on stage during this excellent live performance were without doubt singer/guitar player Amanda Lehmann and singer/bassist Nick Beggs. Both musicians already contributed on Steve's latest effort. Everybody at the Mezz could ascertain that Amanda not only has a great voice; the red guitar on her shoulder was not just a decoration. From time to time this classical trained pianist showed she can play very well on the six strings. Shortly we can expect a solo album from her and that is certainly something to look out for.
Maybe the way Nick Beggs dresses is not everyone's cup of tea, because he likes to show off in rather unusual clothing. This time he looked like an undertaker who just came from a funeral. However, the way he was dressed had nothing do with his fabulous playing on the bass guitar and above all the Chapman-stick. Nick was once a member of Iona in which he proved to be a professional musician with a very high standard. Of course, Steve Hackett knows that too and therefore he gave him a solo spot on the Chapman-stick towards the end of the show. His solo was highly appreciated by the audience.
From now on I'll check out the concert guides more carefully, because it would be foolish to miss a Steve Hackett live performance again. He's still one of the best guitar players in the progressive rock scene. Even his lead vocals are getting stronger every year. After his excellent performance Steve entered the foyer to meet his fans. It shows that he's not only a fabulous musician, but also a fine human being.
Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Fire On The Moon
Emerald & Ash
Ace Of Wands
Firth Of Fifth
Walking Away From Rainbows
Blood On The Rooftops
Fly On A Windshield
Pictures Steve Hackett Band by Henri Strik
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up:(left to right)
leadguitar, acoustic guitar, lead & backing vocals
bass, Chapman-stick, backing vocals
electric guitars, backing vocals
flutes, saxes, whistles, backing vocals
drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals
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