A review by Martin Hudson from Classic Rock
By the time Steve Hackett and the band had reached minute 120 of the lengthy set and after the essential version of Los Endos, I heard a fan nearby say, "Well how do you follow that?" Fair comment mate, except that Hackett still had a stunning version of Watcher Of The Skies up his sleeve and a storming Spectral Mornings.
A packed Picturedrome, this time with some unwanted seating set in to the front of the stage, yet again had the pleasure of some classic Genesis material mingled among some of Hackett's finest solo moments that thankfully continue in plentiful supply.
It had been about 15-months since his last visit to Last Of The Summer Wine country and the set had changed just enough to please the loyal audience. There was too a personnel change with Nick Beggs being replaced by Lee Pomeroy on bass. Totally different in style but nothing lost.
Of the music, Loch Lomond opened as the band continued their migration south from Scottish gigs and was followed perfectly by another neo-classic from the Beyond the Shrouded Horizon album, A Place Called Freedom. Only a true prog-rock musician can meld grungy rock with foot-stomping folk and pulsating guitar riffs. He might have been suffering from a heavy cold but Hackett soldiered on aided and abetted vocally by the lovely Amanda Lehmann and when a voice was needed to replace the voice of his former rock combo it was again drummer Gary O'Toole with that unenviable job. Lehmann again brought a neat alternative to the lead vocals, especially on the Eastern sounding Waking To Life, a track that works perfectly with saxophonist/clarinetist Rob Townsend reverting to a bit of Indian style percussion in among his windy duties. Her input on Shadow Of The Hierophant is a challenge in itself before it expands in to that amazing Hackett epic. However, this was essentially an evening of rock guitar - although Hackett did oblige with some neck-tingling acoustic guitar later in the set - of the highest quality where the audience played their part. Surely this lot could have been heard over in Wigan at the conclusion to Firth of Fifth and Blood On The Rooftops!
Other old time highlights included the sing-a-long Carpet Crawlers and Fly On A Windshield while Serpentine Song pleased on the solo side.
With a standing ovation at its conclusion, (I knew those seats would come in handy somewhere in this review), I was left wondering whether Steve Hackett is still amazed at the reaction to his music after all these years. After all, it was a brave decision to move on from a successful progressive rock band to the choppy waters of solo chance all those years ago! Glad he did though! Bless you Steve! MH