Steve Hackett at the London Palladium
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Steve Hackett play live for the 3rd time this year on the final night of his orchestral UK tour. The Genesis legend played a number of classic hits from ‘Firth of Fifth’ to ‘Blood on the Rooftops’, as well as integrating some solo numbers from his latest two solo albums ‘Wolflight’ and ‘The Night Siren’.
This was the finale show of the 8 date tour, and his second London show as the first one at the Royal Festival Hall was a brisk sellout.
The first orchestral performance that Steve did was back in 2017 with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. This was a huge success according to the reviews! I unfortunately wasn’t there. During a Q & A session at the release event for ‘Wuthering Nights’ in January this year, Steve mentioned that he wanted to bring that night into a full on tour, and that it might be “in the works” to happen. Just over a month later, the UK tour was announced (with the same conductor!) This time, the Heart of England Philharmonic Orchestra joined along for ride.
…Who unfortunately for the most part were drowned out by the rest of the core band. It was difficult to pick out the orchestra for most of the night, other than some of the quieter songs, or in arrangements that were more well balanced like in ‘El Nino’.
The entire point of this tour was to show off the orchestral arrangements, and as an orchestral player myself, I was very disappointed with this sound balancing of the performance (and had similar issues the week before at their previous London show). I’m desperately hoping for a miracle when it comes to the mixing and mastering of the live album that the orchestra is much more prominent in the mix.
Possibly part of the problem was that the arrangements of the core band weren’t changed from usual. They played all the same notes, albeit some synthesised strings being removed. This didn’t allow space in the mix for the orchestra to shine through in their full glory.
A major offender of this was the bass pedals. These absolutely drowned out the orchestra to the point of the building shaking when they came in. A bit of EQ to dampen out the lower end would have brought so much more to the performance.
However, the core band were the tightest I’ve seen them this year especially when compared to their London performance the week prior where Jonas got slightly out of time at the start of ‘Supper’s’ Ready and Steve had to turn around to direct him back into place. We’ll see if that comes through on the DVD or not…
Jonas Reingold is relatively new to the band joining this year. He showed off his multi instrumental skills moving from 12 string acoustic, to bass, then over to a 6 string electric.
Jonas is best known for playing with the Flower Kings. He replaced Nick Beggs in Hackett’s entourage as he’s been flying around the world with another Steve, Mr Wilson.
Steve was on fire with his solos, not a note out of place. Rob Townsend had a fabulous soprano sax cadenza leading into ‘The Steppes’, similar to the one found on ‘Wurthering Nights’.
Rodger King was on keys as par usual, playing Tony Banks’ legendary introduction on ‘Firth of Fifth’.
Gary O’Toole on drums, which in ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ was sensational. On top of this, his singing in ‘Blood on the Rooftops’ truly showed off his talents.
Throughout the night, special guests appeared on stage including Amanda Lehmann which resulting in a full performance of ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’. Steve’s brother John also attended to play a song in tribute to their late father (and Peter Pan?) ‘Serpentine Song’.
Finally, Nad Sylvan on vocals, who has released a few solo albums that I’m a big fan of… he really does do Peter Gabriel justice, and his costume change in ‘Supper’s Ready’ was amusing.
Oh, did I not mention? They played SUPPER’S READY! A 20 minute prog epic from ‘Foxtrot’, which was the true treat of the evening. Nad missed a couple of lines in this song when playing at ‘Be Prog! My Friend’ earlier this year, however that error has been sorely ironed out. A faultless performance, and thoroughly enjoyable (when there was space in the mix for the orchestra…)
After many thanks was given from Steve to everyone involved, the orchestra, Inside Out, the PR company, and more, his wife came on stage to deliver gifts of thanks to the leader of the orchestra, and the conductor, thanking them for their time and hard work to pull off this monumental feat.
…And of course they came on to play ‘The Musical Box’ as an encore number. Truly a treat for all those in attendance.
You can find the full setlist on setlist.fm
Some prog royalty attended the concert including Al Murray (who presented this years prog awards)
Steve Hackett at the London Palladium. That guitar sound ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
— Al Murray (@almurray) October 11, 2018
Nick Beggs and Jakko were spotted, and rumours on twitter of Nick Magnus being in the audience too.
Nick Beggs & Jakko (from King Crimson) at the London Paladium to see Steve Hackett! pic.twitter.com/XRYgvdTOt3
— Jonathan Nicholls (@jonmarknicholls) October 11, 2018