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


Steve Hackett


Eclectic Prog

4.36 | 81 ratings

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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.

Cygnus X-2 | 5/5 |


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