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Steve Hackett - Rails Live CD (album) cover

RAILS LIVE

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.33 | 109 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars One of the most incredible live concerts from one of the finest guitarists.

This is an exceptional double disc live album encompassing the massive body of work of Mr guitar extraordinaire Steve Hackett. The sound quality is high level and the crowd noises are never overbearing, and are rather silent, transfixed by Hackett's masterful work. All the musicians are at the top of their game, the skills on woodwind are exemplary, especially the saxophone and keyboards. There is a peaceful resonance generated in the concert with some soul stirring instrumentals among the songs, sung by various band members. Songs such as the beautiful 'Emerald and Ash' have an ambient quality that drifts along with serene measured splendor. Rob Townsend on woodwind is fantastic on this. 'Fire on the Moon' is another standout in the early part of the concert. I am not too familiar with where each song originates but there was no mistaking the Genesis tracks and it was a pleasure to hear Hackett play them again in a new setting. There are stand out moments especially the show stopper, 'Firth of Fifth', and we are as delighted as the crowd to hear it. The vocals by all involved are exquisite and at times reminded me of Pink Floyd style or Genesis.

There is a lengthy section where only the musicians play in some absolutely jaw dropping inspired instrumentals. The intro to 'Ghost in the Glass' is heavenly with tenor sax and some inspired guitar swirls, the way Hackett bends and sustains the strings is incredible. He makes that guitar cry with spasms of energy that sends chills down your spine. The lengthy guitar solos are definitely crowd pleasers as they respond very strongly. Hackett does not say much during the performance except perhaps 'hi' and 'thankyou', instead he lets his music do the talking. There are some nice Asian flavours in the styles on offer too such as with "Voyage of the Acolyte"'s spine tingling 'Ace of Wands' where woodwind, guitar and odd drum patterns create an uplifting mood. Roger King on piano enhances the atmosphere along with the piccolo sounds and sawing synth. There is a massive lead guitar and keyboard trade off during this track and at the end the crowd are left stunned, roaring their appreciation.

Another noteworthy track is 'The Steppes' with portentous steady pounding drums and a foreign twin guitar harmonized with Amanda Lehmann's guitar, sounding rather Egyptian in places, and the bass of Nick Beggs is terrific. I love Hackett's squealing solo that soars to the stratosphere. Here he is at his best and he plays off such tight musicianship with the band members it is musical perfection. In the moments where the musicians break there is dead silence and they all come in, bang on cue. The virtuosity of the instrumentation is remarkable.

A heavier approach is found on the pulsating rhythmic 'Slogans', with a much darker feel. Very tight twin electric guitars sparring off and playing high and low parts precisely together is a key feature. The vocals suddenly return on the excellent following track 'Serpentine Song'/ with strong harmonies. It is a straight forward balladic song which is a nice break after all the chaos and dexterous guitar work performed in the previous tracks. Hackett knows how to obtain the right balance between tension and release and this song releases with beautiful melodies and tranquil vocals.

The awesome 'Tubehead' follows with heavy rhythms and complex time sig changes. The lead work is wonderful and completely out of the box compared to what we have heard thus far. Hackett is on fire with lengthy lead work with high bends and fret melting arpeggios and scales. This is a proficient solo that throws in many styles with some freak out whammy bar squeals and fast fingering speed sweeps; one of the most incredible solos I have heard.

CD2 begins with 'Spectral Mornings' from his much celebrated early release, one that most fans would be aware of, full of spacey guitar flourishes. The highly recognizable Genesis masterpiece, 'Firth of Fifth', follows. It is different with these musicians but no less brilliant. The vocals are sufficient without emulating Gabriel's eccentricity or Collins. The section where Hackett plays the most recognizable piece is mind bending, pitch perfect and as good as I have heard him play it. He introduces new elements that augment the instrumental break and really make this the best piece of the night, a testament to his genius, and the crowd respond in kind with an ovation I would say.

This is followed by 'Blood on the Rooftops' from 'Wind and Wuthering" which is also well received. Next is some classic Genesis with a rendition of 'Fly on a Windshield' and 'Broadway Melody of 1974', but although it feels like he may continue on to 'Cuckoo Cocoon', it was not to be. It was refreshing to hear some more familiar material from "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway".

The version of Genesis' 'Los Endos' from "A Trick of the Tail" was equally as stirring and would be enough to bring the crowd to their feet. It was a fantastic way to end the show to hear all the Genesis tracks, and naturally everyone in the crowd would have known them. One last song 'Clocks' from "Spectral Mornings" caps off a classic concert performance from one of the master musicians of the modern age. The lengthy drum solo from Gary O' Toole is a terrific crowd pleaser. Then it is all over and the crowd have been treated to ear candy of the highest degree.

This 2 hour concert CD comes highly recommended for anyone who appreciates awesome guitar work, and progressive virtuoso musicianship, all Genesis connoisseurs, like me, and of course the legion of Hackett fans, who are simply going to love this live album.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |

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