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Shepherds Bush Empire 14 November 2009

Photos by Noel Buckley

Steve Hackett, photo by Noel Buckley

It was his determinaton to "strive beyond existing stagnant musical forms" that attracted a certain Mr Gabriel to Steve's Musician Available advert in Melody Maker almost 40 years ago.

Fast forward to present day Shepherds Bush and those words still ring true. For over 2 hours the man that inspired Eddie to get tapping and Yngwie to start sweeping, delivered a unique and inspired performance with to-die-for tunes, tone and technique.

Steve Hackett, photo by Noel Buckley

Kicking off with the distinctly Crimson-esque 'Mechanical Bride', all bases were definitely covered, with Kaja's Nick Beggs reinvented as a stick-wielding leather-clad E-string terminatrix. The rest of the band might have had a subtler demeanour, but they also "killed".

New tracks from the excellent Tunnel's Mouth collection nestled amongst classic Hackett, such as the Steppes, Slogans and Spectral Mornings.

Nick Beggs, photo by Noel Buckley

History buffs were also rewarded with contributions from Steve's Genesis pension plan including the ever-sanguine Blood on the Rooftops and the firthy one with "that solo".

Brother John (the real not the rael one) was given a hero's welcome and rewarded us with fine flute corner man's performance with the effervescent Jacuzzi.

Fittingly, the evening was rounded off more than nicely with Los Endos.

Steve Hackett, photo by Noel Buckley

Purists might complain that the progtastically-titled, yet rarely performed, Shadow of the Hierophant deserved an outing on such a special night. However, I fear that the stately drama of that track would have laid waste to most of Steve's audience with its sheer power and beauty. Particularly the extended version that appears as a bonus track on the CD reissue.

That's the real wonder of Steve as a composer and player. His music has an other-worldly intangible quality that makes it both compelling and timeless, as he amply demonstrated tonight. May he never stagnate.

SET LIST (and source album)

Mechanical Bride (TWTS) / Fire On The Moon (OOTTM) / Every Day (SM) / Emerald And Ash (OOTTM) / Ghost In The Glass (OOTTM) / Ace Of Wands (VOTA) / Pollution B (TWTS) / Jacuzzi (D) / The Steppes (D) / Slogans (D) / Serpentine Song (TWTS) / Tubehead (OOTTM) / Spectral Mornings (SM) / Firth Of Fifth (SEBTP) / Walking Away From Rainbows (GN) / Horizons (F) / Blood On The Rooftops (WAW) / Fly On The Windshield (LLDOB) / Broadway Melody Of 1974 (LLDOB) Sleepers (OOTTM) / Still Waters (OOTTM) / Los Endos (TOTT) / Clocks (SM)

Review by Andy Rawll

Photos by Noel Buckley

Steve Hackett, photo by Noel Buckley


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