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Steve Hackett - Once Above A Time (DVD) CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.36 | 79 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This one makes it straight to the top (maybe not the VERY top, but definitely the upper region) of my favourite prog DVDs. I haven't actually followed Hackett's solo career very closely, so I cannot really tell you if, when this was recorded, he was at the top of his game, but it certainly looks and feels that way. As a soloist, Hackett never sounded more convincing, and as the leading member of his own band he blends perfectly with the other musicians. All unison play is incredibly exciting and precise, all musicians obviously enjoy being on stage (although the keyboard player, like so many of his ilk, tends to move like a mere technician) and Hackett generously allows each of the other players plenty of glory. The drummer is particularly convincing, playing and singing 'Blood on the Rooftops' with all the panache Phil Collins could muster; sax player and flautist Rob Townsend is allowed a multitude of sprightly and delicate solos.

The material covered provides a fair selection of Hackett's best moments. It definitely seems a plus that ONCE ABOVE A TIME was filmed right after Steve had recorded his best ever solo album, TO WATCH THE STORMS, which means we are treated to riveting performances of the seemingly chaotic 'Mechanical Bride' and the lovely 'Serpentine Song'. But quite a few classic Genesis moments are here as well (just the right amount, in my opinion) and a great selection of tracks from Hackett's early career. (The only track I personally miss is the wonderful 'Star of Sirius', but you can't have everything.)

ONCE ABOVE A TIME seems to be a true-to-life record of a single evening's concert. The filming is expertly done, with cameras rapidly flitting across the stage, or from soloist to soloist, and focussing on the right details at exactly the right moment, without getting gimmicky or restless. (And thank heaven there are no fancy visuals in questionable taste, as with some of those Yes DVDs!) The performances, as I said, are outstanding, but you need to be a lover of rich symphonic prog to enjoy this programme: on most of the tunes performed the main soloist at any given moment is backed by truly lush (often mellotron-like) keyboard orchestrations. While I was watching this, every now and then I found myself longing for something a little more sparse and less romantic, for a couple of bum notes, some real anguish and pain... Steve Hackett always comes across as a teller of fairy-tales (some of which are pretty grim, mind you!) but not as someone who bares his soul. As long as you're willing to accept that fact, there is plenty of superior music you'll find here to enjoy.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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