Steve Hackett - 'Live - Fire And Ice' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 06, 2012    
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A wonderful representation of Hackett and his splendid band in action.

The title of this DVD could not be more apt because on the evening it was recorded the weather was appalling with the UK in the grip of snow, ice and Arctic temperatures. However, those who braved the conditions and immense travel disruption to make it along to the Shepherds Bush Empire were certainly made to feel very warm inside by a truly fabulous concert (reviewed in issue 44*).

Hackett may be a guitar virtuoso but his music isn’t centred on him showing off his prowess it’s about a wonderfully eclectic collection of songs covering different styles and the set presented here perfectly showcases his ability of painting musical pictures in terms of depth and variety.

This is an independent release and as such the budget would have been an issue but it’s still a multi-camera affair with the only criticism, from my perspective, being that the long shots from cameras positioned towards the back of the venue are grainy and blurred. However, the close ups are crystal clear and top quality editing means that these are held when necessary with none of those rapid cuts used by so many directors; fortunately the film is also devoid of irritating special effects.

If anyone doubted their decision to attend the gig that would have been dispelled completely within the first two tracks, ‘Valley of the Kings’ and the perennial favourite ‘Everyday’ both demonstrating Hackett’s innate ability to create superb and timeless melodies. The crowd may have been down on numbers but you’d not know it by the roar that they make when the latter track concludes. Similar acclaim is also evident after a tremendous renditions of the Genesis classics, ‘Watcher of the Skies’ and ‘Carpet Crawlers’, the former being followed by a quip from Hackett that it was a little thing he’d put together on the bus on the way to the gig.

Prior to these songs ‘The Golden Age of Steam’ had adequately shown Hackett’s eclecticism, as song doesn’t feature his guitar. ‘Fire on the Moon’ is an absolute delight as is the epic ‘The Shadow of the Hierophant’, which has been reintroduced into the set after a 33 year absence at the behest of Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) who joins the band for the lengthy and hugely powerful instrumental section that brings the track to its conclusion. The vocals are perfectly delivered Amanda Lehmann, who later shows she’s no mean lead guitarist either. Drummer, Gary O’Toole is used as the vocalist on the Genesis songs and does a fine job, not least on ‘Blood on the Rooftops’ and set closer, ‘Firth of Fifth’.

The cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ featuring John Wetton seems rather redundant given the wealth of Hackett’s own material and the extended drum solo during the encore, ‘Clocks’, finishes the gig on something of a low. Those minor grumbles aside this is a wonderful representation of Hackett and his splendid band in action.

Gary Marshall

(* of Fireworks Magazine)

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