Steve Hackett Band - May 25, 2010
Mezz, Breda (NL)
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
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
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
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
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
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)