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Shepherds Bush Empire,London 13 March 2004

Well the Shepherds Bush Empire (2000 capacity) is a little bigger than the Queen Elizabeth Hall (850) that Hackett filled last October and tonight it was still some way off being sold out. I missed the October gig since it coincides with Camel's last visit to London, but given the good press that Hackett's Fall tour garnered, I was keen to catch him this time around.

Backed by the same band that which played on the last tour, the whole set was very tight indeed, mixing up Steve's more recent material with songs from more than twenty years ago. While some of Steve's solo material is quite well known - including tunes such as `Clocks', `Ace of Wands' and `Spectral Mornings' which were performed as part of this set, I suspect that many fans of old Genesis. Like myself, were also there to see which tunes from his Genesis career would get an airing tonight.

In fact, we were in luck as Steve plucked out tunes like the acoustic `Horizons', `Blood on the rooftops' (actually sung by current drummer Gary O'Toole), `Fly on a Windshield' from `The Lamb Lies down on Broadway' and the ever-present `Firth of Fifth' - well he couldn't really get away with NOT playing THAT solo, could he? In between, some of the newer tunes alternated between the lighter, more Post-Gabriel-Genesis type material and darker material like `Darktown' and the, at times almost industrial, `Mechanical Bride', which showed Steve's willingness to incorporate more modern ideas into his music.

It was also pleasing to see the members of his band share the spotlight and though all made a great contribution, it was the woodwind of Rob Townsend which particularly caught my ear. In addition brother John (celebrating his birthday) made a brief appearance to play `Second Chance' with Steve and super Special Guest John Paul Jones (of Led Zep) contributed some pedal steel-style guitar to a finale of `Squonk'.

I couldn't quite make out the audience. A lot of people there didn't seem interested in the music at all and a substantial number left well before the end of the 2hr set. Nevertheless I thought it was a damn good show and if Steve continues to revamp his setlists like this for each tour, you can bet that I'll be back to see him again.

Setlist (incomplete): Valley Of The Kings ; Mechanical Bride ; Circus Of Becoming ; Frozen Statues (Inst) ; Slogans ; Serpentine Song ; Ace Of Wands ; Hammer In The Sand ; Acoustic Set: Horizons Etc. ; Second Chance ; Blood On The Rooftops ; Fly On A Windshield / Broadway Melody ; Please Don't Touch ; Firth Of Fifth ; A Dark Night In Toy Town ; Darktown ; Brand New ; Air Conditioned Nightmare ; Every Day ; Clocks

Encores: Spectral Mornings ; Los Endos ; Squonk (with John Paul Jones)

Review: Charlie Farrell

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