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Steve Hackett - Live Archives 70,80,90s CD (album) cover


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.53 | 83 ratings

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5 stars True Masterpiece Prog Live Act - great shows, great tracks, great musicians, and . crazy audience!

Really sorry for long review, but I just could not help it as this box set deserves detail review because it's a precious set.

Having watched and completely stunned with Steve Hackett "Once Above A Time" DVD, I played back some of Steve's albums including this live archives from my collection. For some of you, you might have known Steve only from his tenure with Genesis and probably still label him with something like "ex Genesis guitarist" and you might not know what his work after he left the band. That's the same case with me when I got the cassettes of his first two albums, I still considered Steve as Genesis guitarist instead of Steve as a solo artist and never played the cassettes intensely. Until one time in a rock show performed by an opening act of Uriah Heep Live in Bandung, Indonesia sometime in 1980, I think. There was a local band that played Steve Hackett's "Ace of Wands" excellently. It strike my mind really - so when I went home I played this song over and over. That's the first love I got with Hackett music. I was hooked with "Voyage ..", "Please Don't Touch", "Spectral Morning" and "Defector". For me, Steve has produced many great prog tunes that I consider now as a classic, such as: "Every Day", "Star of Sirius", "Ace of Wands", "Narnia", "Clocks", "Shadow Of The Hierophant", and many more great tunes.

When this live archives CD came out, I was not really interested to purchase because I thought that I would get some standard version of studio tunes performed live. But, finally I purchased the CD because it was relatively cheap for 4 CDs set and for completing my collection. When I spin the CD, I was stunned with the fact that all 4 CDs contain great show recordings, great performance, great tracks and dynamic nuances indicated by the audience during the show. The four CDs span across live acts in three different venues: Hammersmith Odeon 30/07/79 (CD 1 & CD 2), Castel Sant' Angelo - Rome 13/09/81 (CD 3), and The Grand Theatre - London 08/06/93 (CD 4). As I'm impressed with the contents of all four CDs, each concert deserves detailed review, I think. For those who do not like to read long review, my advise is: get this box set! You will not regret!

Hammersmith Odeon - London 30/06/79 CD 1: 55:32 and CD 2: 56:29.

The band: Steve Hackett (guitars, harmonica and vocals), John Hackett (flutes, guitars, bass pedals), Dick Cadbury (bass and vocals ), John Shearer (drums ) and Pete Hicks (vocals )

The show starts with an ambient keyboard solo performed very soft to give a nuance for the show. It flows seamlessly with "Please Don't Touch" with the mark of dynamic drum sound in a very energetic mood with excellent guitar and keyboard works. The track is best to open the show as it has an uplifting style and it's a classic prog tune. I can hear clearly how Steve guitar plays great sounds and its effects. The next track "Tigermoth" (from "Spectral Morning" album) opens with a classical guitar outfit followed by full music led by guitar work. The track has some segments with quieter passage in avant-garde style. It ends-up with a nice church organ and it continues with my all-time favorite Hackett tracks "Every Day". This track has a simple structure - at the beginning part it seems poppy or straight forward rock song with some quieter passages in Hackett style. True adrenalin-exploding segment occurs when long guitar solo enters the scene. The guitar melody is really wonderful with some complicated fills by Hackett unique style and it goes into higher register notes, combined with flute sound. I usually repeat this track 2 or 3 times because I want to replay this part frequently. Great guitar, Mr. Hackett!

Another classic track "Narnia" (from "Please Don't Touch" album) continues the show in an upbeat tempo. The slow style with eastern music flavor "The Red Flower of Tai Chi" (from "Spectral Morning" album) gives an excellent break on my listening pleasure and it then moves up again to a groundbreaking classic "Ace Of Wands" started with a dazzling drum. The intertwining works of guitar, keyboard and flutes are really good. Oh man . this is a wonderful track performed better in live version! It continues with "Carry On Up The Vicarage" in happy mood because the voice line is performed by children with programmed sounds and effects. Interesting track.

"Etude in A min" - "Blood On The Rooftops" - "Horizons" is an acoustic outfit. The audience seemed longing for this track especially when "Blood On The Rooftops", all of the audience shout and gave applause. It is then continued with "Kim", performed excellently with acoustic guitar, keyboard and flutes. The audience participant becomes really obvious just before and during "The Optigan" - "A Tower Struck Down" (of "Voyage ." album) are performed. A very good track composed in horror mood with variety of styles. CD 1 concludes with a classic prog tune "Spectral Mornings".

CD 2 opens with introductions to the band members. The band then plays Hackett's classic "Star Of Sirius" (from "Voyage ." album) with quiet opening - demonstrating keyboard and guitar fills in mellow style. The music then turns to full stream with bass, drums and other instruments in a faster tempo. The track performed similar with the studio version. An interesting track. The other classic "Shadow Of The Hierophant" that featured Sally Oldfield (vocal) in studio version is now performed nicely with this live record. "Clocks" (from "Spectral Morning" album) is performed dynamically as the audience participate in hand clapping during the tune is played. From the beats that follow the clocks it turns to a medium tempo beat music with stunning guitar in rocking style. It ends up with an excellent drum and percussion solo. An excellent performance! It seemed like this track was intended to close the show . but . the audience give more and more applause to request the band returns on stage. Finally they made to the stage with Genesis tune "I Know What I like".

On Genesis' "I Know What I Like" part, the audience is really getting into much more crazy and more dynamic to participate the show. It's a great audience with thousands people in the crowd, I would say. This tune is suitable to play as "encore" role for the show. The singing style is modified to stimulate much audience participation, bass guitar is played differently combined with improvised drumming. Guitar work is extended and in some part features the "Dancing and The Moonlit Knight" combined with excellent flute sounds and piano / keyboard. It's a great and dynamic live track. The ending part of this track is also modified in such a way that it differs with the original Genesis version but it's nice and dynamic.

The music is then continued with "Wardrobe Boogie" in a great guitar improvisation in boogie style. It seemed, again, audience did not want to leave the venue with this encore. They clapped hands and shout for approx. 3 minutes - and it is not cut-off in this live record (thanks!) that indicates the "true" stage situation during the show - and finally the band came back on stage!!! What a crazy audience man! And Mr. Hackett said "It seem you force us to play another one tonight ." and the audience replied with "Yeaaahhh .!!!". Now the band continues with "Racing In A" (from "Please Don't Touch" album) in relatively long duration (10:15) and "Racing In A Coda" - an acoustic outfit by Hackett.

Even though the sonic quality of CD 1 and 2 is not very good, but it's acceptable for me and the performance and the music are really wonderful!

Castel Sant' Angelo - Rome 13/09/81 - CD 3: 74:50

The band: Steve Hackett (guitars, harmonica and vocals), John Hackett (flutes, guitars and bass pedals), Nick Magnus (keyboards), Chas Cronk (bass and vocals) - usually played with Rick Wakeman and Ian Mosely (drums) - whom later you would know him as permanent member of Marillion replacing Mick Pointer after the performance of Script for A Jester's Tear tour.

As Steve put it in the CD sleeve "And don't forget the crowd. They couldn't have been more enthusiastic - spontaneously bursting into applause for anything that grabbed them, never mind waiting for solos. What I am saying is, that this show was, I think, possibly the best this line-up ever performed". - this is a dynamic live concert.

The CD 3 starts off with a track from an under-rated album "Cured" with an instrumental piece "The Air Conditioned Nightmare" and it continues with another instrumental from "Defector" album called "Jacuzzi". Both tracks receive great applause from the audience. After the opening two tracks, Steve introduces Nick Magnus and continues with third track "Funny Feeling" with vocal line. It's a poppy stuff but it's nice. After this track, Steve continues the communication telling the crowd how he felt at home with some local language.

He then introduce the next feature from "primo album" called "Ace Of Wands". As usual, this is my all-time favorite track of Hackett, it starts with a dynamic drumming. The crowd give applause throughout the performance of this track. This track has been improvised in this live version. Before it continues with "Picture Postcard" which is another pop outfit - Steve does some communication again. The next three tracks are really my all-time favorite "The Steppes" (from "Defector" album), "Every Day" (from "Spectral Mornings" album) and "Overnight Sleeper" (from "cured" album). "The Steppes" is an instrumental piece in a medium tempo, blues based, with an eastern music nuance on guitar and keyboard styles. It's an album opener for Defector album and it's very nice and easy to digest. The guitar solo is stunningly performed here with soft touch on the guitar strings.

"Every day" receives great applause from the crowd as they clap hands when the song starts to blast the air. It seems they love this classic track. This has made this track more dynamic and lively. With many times this song featured in Hackett live performances, I still enjoy this version. Each version has its own nuance that I love almost all of them. This version has great drumming solo (very short) and some improvised part at the ending session. Well, it all confirms that Steve is better doing solo than as a guitarist of Genesis!

"Overnight Sleeper" opens with an acoustic guitar work followed with dynamic keyboard sounds with great melody. I love the opening part. One of my chief reason on why to buy the "Cured" album which most people under rate it was because of this wonderfully crafted song. In this live version, Steve does perform it with enthusiasm and fulll of energy as the song itself has variety of styles - that is also combining some traditional music with woodwind sounds. Oh man . this track is WONDERFUL!!!

Other three tracks are really Hackett true classics with great compositions: "Slogans" - "A Tower Struck Down" - "Spectral Mornings". Yeah .. another great live performance! "Slogan" is performed really lively and has been improvised to feature extended guitar solo and drumming solo. Really greaaaatttt ..!!! It rocks man ..!! "A Tower Struck Down" is performed lively and continued without break to "Spectral Mornings". It's a killing track man ..

"The Show" (from "Defector" album) is an upbeat tune that can accommodate crowd applause throughout the tune performance on stage. It flows semalessly to the intro of "Clocks" (from "Spectral Mornings" album) that concludes this CD 3.

The Grand Theatre - London 08/06/93 CD 4: 70:54

The band: Steve Hackett (guitars, harmonica and vocals), John Hackett (flutes on "Kim"), Julian Colbeck (keyboards), Doug Sinclair (bass and vocals), Hugo Degenhardt ( drums and vocals).

On top of great performance of CD 4, one thing that stands out clearly with this live performance: the great contribution of Hugo Degenhardt. He is a fantastic drummer! Who is he? Well, for sure I have searched through the nets and I found very minimum info about him. He did contribute to Mark Owen "In Your Own Time" which John McLaughlin contributes as producer. I am keen to know about him because his drumming style is top notch! The other great musician in this line-up is Doug Sinclair (bass). You can see how great his and Hugo's works on track 10 of this CD 4. Both musicians contributed in Steve's "Dark Town" album.

From the start "Medley" where it features Myopia / Los Endos / Imagining / Ace Of Wands / Hackett to Pieces in relatively fast pace - sounds like a jazz rock fusion tune, it's clear how powerful the drumming style of Hugo here. I think, "The Hugo factor" has in a way made a great contribution to the great performance of this CD 4! He sets the powerful and energetic tone of the show, I would say. It's very dynamic!

"Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite" starts off with rocking guitar solo and followed with a medium tempo music that features guitar rhythm and fills. The harmonica takes the lead during interlude followed with bass guitar solo. In "Sierra Quemada" and "Take These Pearls" the band offer mellow and nice instrumental tunes. It continues with a classic track "In The Heart Of The City" - "Walking Away From Rainbows" - "There Are Many Sides To The Night". A tribute to Steve's wife "Kim" is also featured.

"Dark As the Grave" explores acoustic ventures with great sound effects. An interesting song. "Always Somewhere Else" is really a GREAT track that explores the talents of Mr. Hugo Deggenhardt and Mr. Doug Sinclair. Oh man . their dynamic play in this track is really superb! I keep repeating this track because wanting to enjoy more and more . Bravo Hugo! Bravo Doug! Bravo Steve! (who has successfully brought together great musisicians like Hugo and Doug in this wonderful live set!).

"Lost In Your Eyes" is not may favorite but it's OK. But the "Medley: Spectral Mornings / Firth of Fifth /Clocks" - "Cinema Paradiso" and "In That Quiet Earth" are really excellent tracks! They are well positioned to close the show.

Newcastle City Hall - 26/10/79 & Hammersmith Odeon London - 30/10/78 [bonus-disc]

Well so sorry . I can not review this CD as I did not order through Steve's website (poor me .) but I'm sure it's another great show with crazy audience, especially those in Hammersmith!


Before I make my final recommendation, I would emphasize on the sonic quality first. I would say the sonic quality is not excellent but it's okay to my ears. On ten-scale system, I would put overall sonic quality rate is 6.5 out of 10 - with exception to CD 4: 8 out of 10. But, considering that this is a live archives and I still can grab the music in pretty detail manner, I have excluded the sonic quality in my overall recommendation. So, my final rating is 4 out of 5 stars. You are the final judge on your purchase decision. If you love Hackett era of Genesis, I would be pretty damn sure you would love this live archives. On top of music, the 40-page booklet is really nice as your prog reference. Long live Hackett!! Keep on progging!!!

Yours progressively,

GW - Indonesia.

Gatot | 5/5 |


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