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ONCE ABOVE A TIME (DVD)

Steve Hackett

Eclectic Prog


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Steve Hackett Once Above A Time (DVD) album cover
4.31 | 71 ratings | 10 reviews | 59% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music


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DVD/Video, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Valley Of The Kings
2. Mechanical Bride
3. The Circus Of Becoming
4. Frozen Statues
5. Slogans
6. Serpentine Song
7. Ace Of Wands
8. Hammer In The Sand
9. Blood On The Rooftops
10. Fly On A Windshield
11. Please Don't Touch
12. Firth Of Fifth
13. If You Can't Find Heaven
14. Darktown
15. Brand New
16. Air-Conditioned Nightmare
17. Every Day
18. Clocks
19. Spectral Mornings
20. Los Endos

Bonus Feature
'Backstage in Budapest' - Informal documentary filmed during the day leading up to showtime


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hackett / guitar & vocals
- Roger King / keyboards
- Rob Townsend / sax, flute, percussion & vocals
- Terry Gregory / bass & vocals
- Gary O'Toole / drums, percussion & vocals

Releases information

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Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert HallGenesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
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Audio CD$3.68
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Inside Out U.S. 2010
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Live RailsLive Rails
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Genesis Revisited IGenesis Revisited I
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EMI Import 2013
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Spectral MorningsSpectral Mornings
Extra tracks · Remastered
Astralwerks 2005
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$2.90 (used)
DefectorDefector
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Astralwerks 2005
Audio CD$3.68
$11.08 (used)
Please Don't TouchPlease Don't Touch
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Astralwerks 2005
Audio CD$3.68
$2.90 (used)
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STEVE HACKETT Once Above A Time (DVD) ratings distribution


4.31
(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(59%)
59%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
32%
Good, but non-essential (5%)
5%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

STEVE HACKETT Once Above A Time (DVD) reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars True Masterpiece Prog Live Act - great tracks and great musicians!

Hackett has made it again! Yeah . another great show by the guitar virtuoso - the master of howling guitar sounds. I think, Steve Hackett is one of the artists - beside Peter Gabriel - that has succeeded after leaving GENESIS, embarking a music journey as solo artist. Like Peter Gabriel, it's hard to identify any bad works of Steve since his debut "Voyage of the Acolyte" until the last album "To Watch The Storms". Even though at album level, some are not truly excellent like "Feedback" but he has his unique musical creation in his entire music career. Bravo Steve!

This DVD was filmed from a live act at Petrofi Csarnok, Budapest on 3rd April 2004 as part of "To Watch The Storm" tour. The line-up is basically the musicians that were involved in the making of "To Watch". By the time I'm writing this review, I have watched the DVD twice in its entirety and I really feel "satisfied" with the overall performance. There are some parts that do not favor me but they are insignificant as compared to the whole excellent live act.

The live act opener "Valley Of The Kings" (from GENESIS "Revisited") starts with a soft guitar solo and followed with eastern music in full blown mode. Rob Townsend plays saxophone in this song. Gary O'Toole drumming is better than Fudge Smith (drummer for the "Time Lapse" live video). This track performed in slow/medium tempo with stunning guitar solo. The second track "Mechanical Bride" (from "To Watch The Storm" album) is performed at its best - even better than the studio recording. It starts off with a grandiose music that blast off the stage in a high energy and uplifting mood combined with excellent flash lighting. Roger King keyboard helps accentuate the music and set the right atmosphere for Hackett to take the vocal line. When the music enters into a complex part with avant-garde and jazz music improvisations, I can not let myself just sit and watch the screen but I was stimulated to emulate the musician's style in playing their instrument. Wonderful segment! Oh man .. This second track is a truly adrenalin-exploding track! As I have reviewed this track in studio version, this track has some segment similar to King Crimson.

The third track is a kind like "break" after ground breaking track previously performed. "The Circus Of Becoming" performed in a happy mood, just like a circus music. "Slogans" (from "Defector) brings the emotion back to a fast tempo music with excellent combination on keyboard and guitar. It's a rocking track. O'Toole performs excellent short drum solo in this part. Very good composition and it has a relatively complex structure. "The Serpentine Song" turns the music slow with Hackett guitar fills followed with excellent harmony vocals in slow-medium tempo. The use of bamboo flute has enriched the music. Rob Townsend plays multi instruments in solo: flute and also clarinet. Very nice track. Actually, I don't like Steve singing voice, but I don't know why his voice fits really well with almost composition that he has created.

The Hackett classic tune "Ace Of Wands" is performed excellently by the band. It's one of my favorite Hackett tracks. Oh man . again, I am emotionally lifted up when the band hits this track. So wonderful live act! There is part with improvisation as well before it returns back to the original tagline melody. I like the overall composition of this track. O'Toole drumming is very dynamic and it can provide dynamic beats for the music - combination of stunning guitar, keyboard and woodwind instrument.

The Genesis classics are also performed here. In "Blood On The Rooftops" Steve plays his acoustic guitar completely. As Richard Chapman wrote in his book ("Guitar" - Music, History and Players) about Steve Hackett :"He plays harmonized part, with dropped-in backward tapes of solo. ..he is one of the few guitarists in popular music who uses a nylon-string guitar with a normal-sounding classical techniques ...", Stve has proven it right with this performance. Gary O'Toole takes the vocal part replacing Phil Collins. Actually Gary's vocal line does not seem fit with this song - but for me it's okay because this track is really good.

My favorite Genesis track "Fly On A Windshield" is also performed in this show with elimination of vocal part (too bad; but it's okay). There is no such thing as "Something's solid forming in the air ." with Garielisque sound. It continues seamlessly to Hackett's classic "Please Don't Touch". "Firth Of Fifth" follows only on the guitar interlude part in the vein of "Genesis Revisited" album. It's really nice! I remember the glory days when Hackett was with Genesis especially in the Selling England By The Pound album.

"Darktown " is another great track performed flawlessly by the band. Again, I really enjoy this track. I follow the beats while enjoying this track. What I also like is the inclusion of some great tracks from "Spectral Morning" album (highly recommended!!) :" Every Day" - "Clocks" - "Spectral Mornings". The live act is concluded with a beautiful encore "Los Endos" that includes pieces of "Dancing In The Moonlit Knight" .

It's a masterpiece show that you should not miss! Get the DVD! Rating: 4.75 / 5. Keep on progging!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#34178) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Due to many different reasons I never witnessed a GENESIS gig in the Seventies. When HACKETT left GENESIS he became my guitar-hero because I was fed up with the poppy prog from 'Collins-GENESIS'. I've seen many concerts from HACKETT, I enjoyed every gig very much but it lasted until a few years ago that HACKETT started to perform more early - and mid-GENESIS footage. So finally I could enjoy some of the 'mid-GENESIS-magic'! From all the HACKETT DVD's that has been released until now, this is the most exciting and varied one. His band is outstanding with lots of fine instrumental breaks and musical surprises and HACKETT's guitar play has become so mature and distinctive after all those years: his volume-pedal play in "Fly on a windshield", the spectacular sound in "Slogans" and "Air conditioned nightmare", his moving solo in "Everyday" and of course the wonderful, progrock #1 guitarsolo in "Firth of fifth"! And don't forget the acoustic "Blood on the rooftops" and the splendid GENESIS cover "Los Endos" and .. and ... and ... essential for any progrock fan!!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#34179) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ONCE ABOVE A TIME puts the lucky prog fan right on the stage with ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and his superb band, for an excellent, intimate 2004 concert before an appreciative smaller audience in Budapest.

Hackett and his band of virtuosos are in top form throughout, and the sound and video quality of the DVD cannot be faulted. We get twenty songs in total, from newer installments in Hackett's solo career, to older entries from the guitarist's back catalogue, to even a few Genesis numbers, in a well-rounded career retrospective. It's all very, very good, but long-term fans will be especially delighted to find some treasured gems presented here. "Ace of Wands," from Hackett's essential first solo outing, is a particular standout -- flawlessly and exuberantly performed, this dynamic number is the very essence of the genre: ladies and gentlemen, THIS is progressive rock!

"Blood on the Rooftops" has long been a favourite of many Hackett and Genesis fans, and this lovely, melancholy, sentimental classic is splendidly delivered here, with drummer Gary O'Toole convincingly handling Phil Collins' former vocal chores with feeling and aplomb. Fans who were "there" in the 70s can be excused if this one makes them a trifle misty-eyed. Simply beautiful!

"Fly On a Windshield" provides another welcome excursion down memory lane, as the old LAMB LIES DOWN track is offered in an instrumental format that really lets the listener/viewer focus on Hackett's unquestionable mastery of his axe -- great stuff!

"Please Don't Touch," from the guitarist's second solo recording, provides another exciting example of the power and musical variation embodied in classic prog, while "Firth of Fifth" serves up a feast of Hackett's trademark licks from many fans' favourite Genesis album, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND.

"Brand New," as its name implies, is a newer Hackett offering, but the old magic is still there. It's an exciting and uplifting piece, that well proves that Steve can still "deliver the goods" when it comes to penning original songs that will please his old fans, but still take the music somewhere new.

Turn up the volume for the final four: "Every Day," a standout from SPECTRAL MORNINGS, is nothing short of fabulous here, while "Clocks" is a study in contrasts that really showcases O'Toole's superlative drumming skills. Next up, "Spectral Mornings," perhaps my favourite Hackett piece overall, is frankly magnificent, and may well bring another fond tear to the eye of the old progger. Accept no substitutes for Hackett's massive, soul-stirring lead sound!

Our evening with Hackett comes to a stirring, only-too-soon close with a rousing rendition of "Los Endos" that could well have you joining the audience in leaping to your feet and applauding wildly -- the perfect ending to a great and memorable show!

I heartily recommend this disc to all Hackett and Genesis fans -- for them , its unquestionably a five-star performance. For all others, ONCE ABOVE A TIME would be "an excellent addition" to their prog music collections. Bravo! Long live Steve Hackett!

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#34181) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well a number of great classics, plus his best "resume" of the middle period and a few tunes of the modern times as well; for me altogether represent the best video composition from his long career, also regarding of the quality picture!! Interesting albums such as "To Watch the Storms", including his best Genesis-oriented track entitled " Circus of Becoming", are well represented here..."Blood On the Rooftops" is enriched by means of a great live band performance, including the enthralling solo of "Firth of Fifth" and of course "Los Endos" at the end, like in the famous concert of "Seconds Out". Therefore there a few standard tunes, taken directly from his own solo works concerning his old catalogue, of which I like to remind you of the immortal songs such as "Ace of Wands" , "Please Don't Touch" and the fantastic "Spectral Mornings"!! As usual considered as must-have,especially for the prog fans, it's always fine listening to them, thanks to the perfect execution by Steve and also regarding of his remarkable arrangements live on stage!!If you're into his old stuff you are always excited; otherwise if you're not completely fond of the whole stuff, you can be satisfied anyway...ESSENTIAL LIVE DVD - CONCERNING THE BEST STUFF FROM STEVE!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#69928) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In terms of solo artists, Steve Hackett is in the pantheon of them. After his departure from Genesis, Hackett released a strong series of albums cementing his position in the foundations of progressive rock. This show is no exception to that train of thought, it just rocks and takes the viewer through many different emotions within 110 minutes of pure excellence. Unlike Somewhere in South America, which was very instrumentally oriented, Once Above a Time has a more balanced focus with an equal emphasis on instrumentals as well as vocal led tunes. The performances from all the members on this disc (incidentally, this show would also be used for Hackett's Live Archive 04 set) are also of a very high quality and show that they are no slouches on their instruments of choice. This disc also seems to correct my main gripe with the previous video, and that was that way too much camera emphasis was put on Hackett, and no other musician really every got a spotlight. That problem is corrected here, and I'm impressed by the how dynamic the camera angles are in this one, as well.

Anyway, the show itself is a nice balance of newer and older Hackett material. Opening with Valley of Kings (which can be found on Watcher of the Skies), the concert classic of this tour Mechanical Bride follows suit in a similar fashion to the previous dvd. The playing on this song is fast and furious, and Rob Townsend is spectacular with his riveting saxophone work. Some great instrumentals from Hackett's first few albums are played here, as well. Slogans, from the long forgotten album Defector, is brought back in all its glory, with fascinating 5/4 riffing and chord progressions. Ace of Wands is played wonderfully as usual, especially towards the end where the bass and drum have this really cohesive and in sync feeling to them. Clocks and Spectral Mornings also find their way on here, both getting great performances from everyone, but Hackett on the most part is just utterly superb. And finally, Please Don't Touch and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare also find their way on this video as well. I'm quite fond of Please Don't Touch, it's probably the best song on that album in my opinion, and the staggering 5/8 sections really take me to another place.

In terms of Genesis material, this set is light of it in comparison to other videos. Of course, Firth of Fifth and Los Endos are played (the latter being the encore as well), but I was quite surprised when I read that Blood on the Rooftops was here. At first I thought it was Hackett teasing the crowd on the acoustic guitar with the main motif, but I quickly found out that it was in fact the full version, with a great vocal performance from Gary O'Toole, who gives his best at the Collins vocal performance (he's no slouch at singing while drumming, as well). Fly on a Windshield also gets a cool instrumental rendition on this disc as well, with the entire song actually being played, just with no vocal towards the end section. The newer material presented here is also wonderfully played and it only further improves the overall quality of this show. Brand New has some great ascending runs from Hackett and some great harmony vocals on top of that, for example.

In the end, Once Above A Time is Steve Hackett's most impressive dvd musically. While The Tokyo Tapes had better musicians and some songs that were never performed except on that show, the keyboard sound and Hackett's vocals were a bit on the weak side, and where Somewhere in South America had a great overall setlist and instrumental feeling, it was too Hackett oriented and there wasn't enough light shed on the rest of the band. But this dvd really remedies all those gripes that marred those otherwise excellent live outings. If you want to get a Steve Hackett dvd, I'd recommend this one first, then the rest is up to you. But for me, though, this is the Hackett dvd I more often than not refer back to when I want to watch Steve Hackett live. 5/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#83496) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
4 stars This is the only concert I've seen from Hackett, so it really was a lovely experience for me. Like many of us here, I grew up into prog with classic acts such as Genesis, and Steve Hackett was already back then my favourite of the numerous gone solo -artists in the whole genre (another was, surprise surprise, Peter Gabriel, but that's another story). This all means that watching this DVD shot in Budapest gave me nostalgic vibes. And anyone can guess which tracks had the biggest dose of nostalgia: 'Blood on the Rooftops', one of my fave Genesis songs, is sung here succesfully by the drummer Gary O'Toole; 'Firth of Fifth' (the highlight of Selling England by the Pound) is abbreviated into an instrumental but the superb guitar solo is alone worth it. Also the Lamb-track 'Fly on a Windshield' concentrates into the powerful vocal-less part of the song. The concert is ended by the perennial Genesis instrumental, 'Los Endos' from Trick of the Tail, and Hackett's band does as great job as Collins & co. under the name of Genesis.

Naturally Hackett's solo material offers many nostalgic highlights as well. These include (all instrumental) 'Ace of Wands', 'Hammer in the Sand', 'Please Don't Touch', 'Clocks' and 'Spectral Mornings'. Very few songs with vocals are chosen from the early albums - and of course also 'Everyday' has its emphasis in the fantastic long solo. This feature is a minor let-down. I would have welcomed some more old songs, and why not for O'Toole to sing. The newer (more vocal-oriented) stuff didn't impress me much, and the 'Brand New' chorus is quite an irritating choice to start playing at the root menu. But on the whole the selection is fine and covers a large part of Hackett's discography.

The repertoire of acoustic nature - where Hackett has done wonderful music - is missing, as this concert is undisputedly a BAND concert. On the keyboards is Roger King (the main collaborator on albums such as Darktown); a plenty of flutes, plus slightly less saxophone, is played by Rob Townsend. Each player give their best. The direction and lightning are good too. In a word, recommended!

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#133882) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 20, 2007

Review by Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Mechanical Bride is pretty annoying...especially the strobe light effect throughout the agressive parts in this track. Sort of reminds me of a poor man's _21st Centtury Schizoid Man_, right down to the cheesy title. _Mechanical Bride_...hahaha...Get serious, folks! Domo Arigato, Steve.

One of the best versions you'll ever hear of _Blood On The Rooftops_. I prefer the Live In Japan DVD to this one. There seems to be something dated about the whole presentation here. Still, worth checking out.

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Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars This is a splendid video concert of one of the undisputed and undisputable pillars of prog, the masterful Steve Hackett. While many of his recent albums are often very good without being outright masterpieces, seeing and listening to this energized display is certainly a rewarding experience. I have never been a huge fan of live albums mainly because if you aren't there, it's just not the same. Obviously, the advent of DVD has liberated this constraint and this is certainly a much valued memento of what a Hackett show would be like. This 2004 concert was held in Budapest, certainly a major prog capital in terms of history (Tull's Hot Night in Budapest and countless shows by western bands during the communist era) and with a healthy prog scene (some fabulous bands like After Crying, Solaris, Janos Varga Project etc..). First off, great bunch of musicians obviously enjoying their craft and who gleefully showcase their talents, namely the majestic Roger King on keys, the vibrant Terry Gregory on bass, winds master Rob Townsend and the energetic Irish drummer Gary O'Toole. And of course, the man with the golden Gibson is a true marvel to behold. For a genre often accused of overt bombast and overblown arrogance, the attitude expressed here is one of simplicity and gentle confidence, with low- key effects and lighting, no theatrics at all. As usual with my DVD concert reviews, a blow by blow description is not called for as it's not a cohesive album that needs analysis and commentary.

The opening storm of "Valley of the Kings" sets the tone with brash symphonics entwined with a slight Egyptian feel, almost expecting some Mummy to appear from the stage. The usual suspects are phenomenally shimmering (Ace of Wands, Firth of Fifth (wow!) , Spectral Mornings, Every Day, Clocks, Los Endos, Blood on the Rooftops, Fly on a Windshield) which comes as no surprise, all being classic pieces that will live on forever. The lesser known tunes are rather attention-grabbing with "Mechanical Bride" furiously veering into almost King Crimson Red period, a definite harsh experimental edge that really screeches, controlled frenzy at its best. "Darktown" has a similar gloom laden atmosphere, full of symphonic dread, with Halloweenish effects and Rob Townsend throwing in some saxy ravings and "Slogans" displaying a manic maelstrom of twists and turns that frankly can only astound. At the other end of the spectrum, "Brand New" is gently lilting with an almost Camelesque flair, bright and sunny with harmony vocals that lift the spirit. "Circus of Becoming" has a whimsical feel announcing the lighter side of Hackett's body of work, yet includes a blistering guitar solo and then with "Frozen Statues", diving into some improv pastels from piano, flute and sax. "Serpentine Song" delves into gorgeous melodies, flute leading the way, a mist of relaxing splendor that is oh so British, simplicity incarnate. The bass propelled jam "Air-Conditioned Nightmare", gives both King and Hackett the platform to flesh out their considerably talents.

There is nary a weak or boring moment, the pace always exhilarating, a true magical concert experience. The beaming smiles from the Hungarian audience reveal a mixture of awe, respect, deep enjoyment and complicity. That sight alone makes this DVD worth the purchase, passing along the warm afterglow to those who weren't in Budapest on April 3, 2004. Certainly one of the finest prog video documents out there.

5 kims

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#174730) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 21, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
5 stars How many fantastic DVDs can one guy make? First The Tokyo Tapes, then Somewhere In South America, and now this one! It is almost impossible to decide which one of these is the best one. For me though, I have to say that Somewhere In South America wins the price, mainly because that was the one I got first. But all of these three DVDs are fantastic and any one of them would make an excellent starting point into Steve Hackett's career. Having at least one of these three DVDs in your collection is essential, so I'm going to try to help you make your choice of which one to get first.

Comparing Once Above A Time with the other two recent DVDs by Steve, one thing that strikes you are that both The Tokyo Tapes and Somewhere In South America are richer on Genesis material. The Tokyo Tapes had several full length Genesis classics with John Wetton on vocals, and Somewhere In South America had several interesting bits and pieces of Genesis songs. On Once Above A Time we find four Genesis songs. Blood On The Rooftops is of particular interest. Usually, Hackett only plays the acoustic intro to this song live. Here, however, it is performed in its entirety (with vocals by the drummer!) Fourth Or Firth is stripped down to Hackett's amazing guitar solo only. Probably the best guitar solo in the history of music. The other two Genesis songs played here are Fly On The Windscreen from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway album and the expected closer Los Endos. Blows me away every time!

Another thing that strikes you about Once Above A Time is the emphasis on Steve's then recent album To Watch The Storms. This is one of Hackett's very best albums in my opinion. The Mechanical Bride, a very King Crimson-like song in the style of 21th Century Schizoid Man. This song had opened the show with a bang on the Somewhere In South America DVD, here it is made the second song after an instrumental called Valley Of The Kings. This is in my opinion a less effective show opener.

Serpentine Song, also from To Watch The Storms, (and also featured on the Somewhere In South America DVD) is also somewhat King Crimson like. And very good.

There is also a heavy emphasis on the Spectral Mornings album with three cuts from that album in the set. This is very nice, of course. Also the instrumental Air-Conditioned Nightmare from the Cured album is a very nice surprise here. However, Slogans is a somewhat less effective choice selection from the Defector album than The Steppes. Another thing about the set list that strikes me is that there is not a single number from Highly Strung, Guitar Noir or Till We Have Faces nor the GTR album like there was on the Somewhere In South America DVD.

Apart from on Blood On The Rooftops the vocals are all handled by Steve himself. I think he is a fine singer. The set list presented on Once Above A Time has more vocal numbers than the one from Somewhere In South America. And as I mentioned earlier, The Tokyo Tapes DVD has vocals by John Wetton on most numbers. This might be another consideration that might effect your choice between this and other DVDs.

If you already have the other DVDs I mentioned and still want more (the other ones very much have that effect!) you should get this one too, and you won't be disappointed. There is not so much overlap between the set lists and it is therefore not overkill to have them all!

As I said, I also think that one of these DVDs might be a perfect starting point to get into Steve Hackett's solo career.

A highly recommended DVD, not only to fans of Steve Hackett and early Genesis but to all prog fans!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#178392) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Review by fuxi
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.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#183557) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2008

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