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Renaissance and Steve Hackett June 22, 2010

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kenethlevine View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 24 2010 at 10:21
I was lucky enough to be part of an almost full house at the lovely but sweltering Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA this past Tuesday.  The audience seemed to be largely made up of middle aged and older men who were, to some degree, fans of both acts, which made the experience uniformly pleasurable.   Myself and my little troupe were primarily there for RENAISSANCE, and in fact one of my friends left partway through Steve Hackett's second song, for which he has been properly shunned.
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First Renaissance, and my third opportunity to see them, but first since 1982.  Only 2 "original" members remain from the post-Relf era, guitarist Mike Dunford and, of course, the still lovely and mellifluous Annie Haslam.  Dunford played only acoustic guitar, no electric, while two keyboard players and a rhythm section rounded out the full sound.  One of the keys was staffed by Rave Tesar who has been in the group for some time now, and the other by a handsome youngish fellow whom I unfortunately can't name.  But to the music!
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Perhaps because no electric guitar was being used, the group stuck largely to its material from the era where said instrument was absent from their studio work, chiefly "Turn of the Cards", with a few kindred numbers from "Prologue", "Ashes are Burning", and "Novella".  For my part, the biggest thrill was "Midas Man", where they nearly duplicated the densely brooding studio effects of the original, but I was also in awe of "Prologue", for one of the first times fully appreciating just how groundbreaking this piece was, a melange of classical, jazz, and chanson.  In general Annie's wordless work was a highlight throughout, even if she has lost a perceptible range.  But I would be remiss not to give credit to the accompanying male voices who were never far from the mike, especially in the break in "Running Hard" and on the choruses in "Carpet of the Sun" and "Things I don't Understand".  attained a "please take me now, lord" moment in the middle part of the encore "Mother Russia", the keyboards more than amply filling in for the orchestral effects.  It's also worth mentioning that the group has a new 3 song EP from which they performed one track "The Mystic and the Muse" to a standing ovation.  If only Renaissance had equal billing with Hackett in MA as they did in the NY shows, we might have been treated to "Ashes are Burning" or "A Song for All Seasons".
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I had yet to see STEVE HACKETT live, and I understand he also performs acoustic shows, but this one was decidedly electric, and the band featured no less than 6 members including an additional lead guitarist, a steaming sax/flute player, and a drummer who handled vocal duties wherever Steve''s own limited pipes were insufficient, which was often.  As if recognizing that he could not beat Renaissance in the subtlety and grace departments, Hackett opened with an acid rock number - "Mechanical Bride" -  that was 90% rip off of "21st Century Schizoid Man", and there can only be one of those.  In spite of some initial excitement, this was a big let down for me.  Luckily he delivered a stunning second number which unfortunately I can't identify, but I assume it is a very recent song, perhaps from "Out of the Tunnel's Mouth".  It featured his spaced out processed vocal style in mellow verses followed by rousing wordless chorus and a shimmering lead guitar solo in the break.  I told my departing riend that he must be tone deaf at this point.  In general I found Hackett's whole show to be hit and miss in the manner of the first two tracks, but luckily more hit than miss.  For every  "Every Day", which was a dream for me to see live, "The Steppes", and GENESIS classic like "Blood on the Rooftops", there was a horrid blues number or hard rock piece only saved by impressive flute and sax work.  The encores of "Firth of Fifth" and "Clocks" capped off the show on a high note, although I did dismiss myself to the bathroom when the drum solo started.
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If anyone can provide a setlst or tell me what the second and fourth songs were, I would appreciate it.  I understand there are people following him around the northeast, so he mixed things up a bit for their benefit.


Edited by kenethlevine - June 24 2010 at 10:50
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote American Khatru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2010 at 12:24
I saw them play together last night, free and outdoors near Battery Park, NYC.  It was very good, sometimes even great.  Nice turnout.

Why must my spell-checker continually underline the word "prog"?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2010 at 13:02
Did Renaissance share the bill and therefore get to play as long as Hackett?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2010 at 13:13
ps.  I just figured out what that amazing second song was - "Fire on the Moon" from the new album "Out of the Tunnel's Mouth"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote American Khatru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2010 at 13:17
Yes - in fact, though I wasn't watching the clock, they may have played a bit longer than Hackett.  SH went first.  Both had an encore (R's was Mother Russia).
 
(Sorry, hit post before done.)  They started at & and were done minutes after 9, with breakdown/setup between bands and everything.
 
 
(Rrrrrrrr!) They started at 7.


Edited by American Khatru - June 24 2010 at 13:19

Why must my spell-checker continually underline the word "prog"?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2010 at 15:59
I noticed that at every show in New York state, the two acts shared the bill.  It reflects how popular REnbaissance was in New York.  I would have preferred more of them and less Hackett, not meaning to knock Hackett
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote American Khatru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 24 2010 at 16:36
After seeing the performances I may have to agree.  All told, Renaissance struck me as having the stronger material, which is an impression I didn't expect to come away with.

Why must my spell-checker continually underline the word "prog"?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AtomicCrimsonRush Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 08 2010 at 05:29
Would have been great to see Annie and Renaissance and Hackett in one bill. Great gig by sounds of it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote yesfan4 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 03 2010 at 11:35
I have been lucky enough to have seen Renaissance three times (1979, 1980, and the farewell1988 tour), and they were absolutely great.  They never got the recognition they deserved in their hey-day.  After reading these reviews I am kicking myself for not seeing them here in DC on 24 June.  I had seen YES the night before at Wolftrap and wasn't up for another concert the next night.  In the back of my mind I thought they would just play a short 45 minute or so set and then Hackett (who for the life of me can't understand why he ever left Genesis) would come out and play.  I don't know of any music Steve has done since GTR (whom were great, I saw them in '86) and so am puzzled why he would be the headlining act. 
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