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Assembly, Leamington, 24
February 2012

Steve Hackett, photo by Andrew Lock

An epic show at the flagship Leamington venue by Steve Hackett, guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, both in his years as a member of the early Genesis line-up and during his successful solo career.

With a Steve Hackett performance you get an incredible potpourri of musical styles and genres and can easily find yourself banging your head in time with heavy rhythms one minute and soaking up the most delicate and gentle of melodies the next (as a friend pointed out often during the same number!); the things you are guaranteed: a virtuoso guitar display by the man himself and top quality musicians on stage alongside him (many of which have been performing with him for a number of years).

His latest album, 'Beyond the Shrouded Horizon' - like his live shows - very much a a mix of styles is given a good account of at this show with the opening four numbers all from that release, and such is the strength of the new material and the loyalty of his fan base all are received like old friends.

The Intricate and powerful latest album opener 'Loch Lomond' began the evening, the bands vocal harmonies a real standout on this track, this opening salvo of new material also included two instrumentals, 'The Phoenix Flown' with it's shades of eastern promise (for me Steve often adds an effective eastern touch to his music at times), and 'Prairie Angel', closing this opening selection of new material the hauntingly beautiful 'A Place Called Freedom'.

Steve Hackett, photo by Andrew Lock

Two highlights of the set from his earlier solo works were the World War 2 set 'The Golden Age of Steam' from the 'Darktown' album complete with it's military style hypnotic beats and from his 2010 album 'Out of the Tunnel's Mouth' one of that release's standout tracks the magnificent 'Fire on the Moon' a number that has it all, melody, power, emotion, strong lyrics and for me a really cinematic wide-screen feel and the guitar work, simply stunning.

As usual with Steve, Genesis fans were well catered for with a selection of early era classics including the exquisite (hold your pint close and sway!) 'Carpet Crawlers', the epic 'Firth of Fifth' and with sublime acoustic guitar work 'Blood on the Rooftops'.

Steve has the art of having the audience in the palm of his hand down to a tee, easy going, informal, often saying hi to friends and fans personally between numbers, giving us plenty of his musical memories and well thought out descriptive introductions to the numbers, even reading out a list of birthdays in the crowd at one point.

Steve Hackett, photo by Andrew Lock

The band alongside Steve were on outstanding form, the lead vocals shared between himself, outstanding guitarist Amanda Lehmann, and drummer Gary O'Toole, while helping to enhance the onstage sound with an array of instruments including sax, flutes and clarinet was Rob Townsend, on the keys was Roger King and on the bass Lee Pomeroy (last time at the Assembly with It Bites).

Other highlights of the set included the jaunty, poppy, fresh sounding 'Every Day', the crowd singing along at Mr Hackett's request, and 'Sleepers' at times almost a classical piece, occasionally with flourishes of Spanish style guitar but progressing to almost heavy rock later in the number.

Steve Hackett, photo by Andrew Lock

The main set ended in vibrant fashion with the Genesis classic 'Los Endos' and sticking with the Genesis theme the magical encores of 'Watcher of the Skies' and 'Spectral Mornings' just about left the fans in delirium/heaven (take your pick!).

Fantastic show, nothing to fault at all, masterful guitar work by one of the instrument's greatest exponents (only the modest Mr Hackett would not agree!), perfectly selected set-list, plenty of variation/light and shade in the material and a top group of musicians performing alongside the main-man.

This is his third visit to The Assembly and on meeting the delightful and friendly man himself after the show I had one request, please come back and see us again, luckily the reply was in the positive.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock


Gig review (New Brighton 20.02.12)

Video interview (February 2012)

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