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    Live in Verviers, Belgium, March 13, 2005


    The first concert of the Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio Tour 2005 took place a fortnight before the tour start proper. The band performed at the internationel Festival de la Guitare in Verviers, Belgium.

    The scene was set at the town’s Grand Theatre, an impressive white building with a tasteful interieur. Three galleries rise above the stalls in a half-circle, red cloth and gilded ornaments impress themselves on our visual memory. The stage itself is illuminated in red light, too, even before the show begins. Two guitars and the keyboard are prepared for the musicians.

    The concert which is due to begin at 8 p.m. sharp really begins half an hour late. At 8.15, Francis Geron of “Spirit of 66”, the concert organizers, announces that this is quite the rule with all shows they manage. The audience take this very calmly and continue to listen to the background music of Hackett’s new album Metamorpheus.

           

    seliistThe show itself runs for 135 minutes including a 20 minute break. The set features some unknown pieces and bits, the titles of which were not announced. The setlist on the stage did not provide any helpful information, either. Though it lists unknown songs, it matches neither the order nor the choice of pieces performed. This is probably due to the fact that this is a tour prequel, as it were. It seems that not all the songs that will be performed on the tour proper have been sufficiently rehearsed yet.

    The course of the concert is approximately like this:

    At first, Steve is alone onstage. The stage backdrop remains black during his solo part.
    tuning the guitar
    A bit from The Journey (the part that begins at 1:54 on the Bay Of Kings CD)
    Black Light
    Unknown hymn-like number
    Unknown piece consisting of quickly plucked chords and chord breaks

    Steve almost always announces the next piece and banters with the audience. He mentions that he wants to break with the old traditions – and he does right from the beginning of the concert. Steve says he was following Richie Havens who claimed that he just played a couple of chords on the guitar and played whatever it developed into.

    By Paved Fountain

    This is the first time Steve switches guitars. He’s got two guitars onstage, and at this point he switches to the guitar where the lowest string is tuned to D instead of E.

    Collage of Metamorpheus motives
    Bay Of Kings

    Steve explains that he keeps dipping his fingers into talcum powder to keep his fingers dry and smooth. Then he addresses those who might be wondering “When is he going to crank up the power and dig out his electric guitar?” and explains about the idea of this evening.

    Tricky intermezzo with many variations (like an étude)
    A number like a folk song (the melody is plucked in the tenor part)
    Elegant number
    Skye Boat Song

    John and Roger join Steve. Roger carries the alto flute case and is introduced by Steve as “the flute roadie”.

    Jacuzzi
    Overnight Sleeper (part 2)
    Bacchus (at the last count this number was called Puck, but Roger introduces it as Bacchus), the middle part of which features the Firth Of Fifth solo performed on the flute

    Steve mentions it is John’s 50th birthday, and the audience sings him a Happy Birthday.

    Trio improvisation, opened by John on alto flute (similar to the Chinese Jam on Hungarian Horizons, but much shorter)
    The Red Flower Of Tai Chi, Hands Of The Priestess (featuring the ending of There Are Many Sides To The Night, as on Hungarian Horizons)

           

    trioJohn’s flute was custom-made with a bent mouthpiece because he cannot hold a normal transverse flute since an accident damaged his spine. His alto flute, however, is a regular flute with a mouthpiece prolonged by a U-turn which gives it a deeper sound.

    At this point in the show the break takes place and provides an opportunity to acquire tour merchandise and Steve’s and John’s records.

     


    o After the Ordeal (part one, without John)
    o Hairless Heart
    o A composition by Roger, played only by him (the sound and the atmosphere resemble Frozen Statues; an interesting modern piece worthwhile listening to – one wants to hear more of that)
    o intro to Imagining
    o Second Chance
    o Jazz On A Summer’s Night
    o Next Time Around (taken from John’s album Velvet Afternoon and performed without Steve)
    o Kim


    Up to this point Steve and Roger did all the talking, most of it in English. Steve calls it Franglais – he translates the words he knows into French, even though there’s not much sense in explaining that Second Chance means “deuxième chance”. Things take a funny turn when he claims that John turned “quinze” (15) instead of “cinquante” (50). Introducing Bacchus, Roger apologized because all his countrymen have such a bad command of French language; he explained that he knows only five French words and wanted to use them whenever possible…
    But all of a sudden, John begins to speak. As if to say thank-you for the birthday song he speaks for a while in fluent French (the chronicler cannot really say what he was talking about, but it must have been quite amusing; one of the things he did mention was the Sketches Of Satie project).

    Idyll
    Aubade
    Meditation (known as a trilogy from Hungarian Horizons)
    The audience applauds after Idyll and Aubade and Steve pulls a face because he is about to give the cue for the next number
    Ace Of Wands

    First encores:
    Walking Away From Rainbows (without John)
    Gnossienne No.1

    Second encore:
    Horizons (Steve solo, of course – how could they have left out this piece!)

    The arrangements resemble those of the highly-recommended Hungarian Horizons DVD. The performance was a pleasure. What the chronicler found most impressive is John Hackett’s flute-playing. The soundboard is skilfully and sensitively operated by Steve’s manager Billy Budis.

    The stage is lit in various soft colours. From the moment when all three are onstage shadowy images can be seen on the backdrop, too. They mostly consisted of clouds, trees, skyscrapers (only for Ace Of Wands) or simply colours.

    The appearances the trio are going to make in Germany are definitely worthwhile attending. Not only are they enjoyable because of their high musical standards and humour, but they may also be delightful for people who are interested in music but not really into Genesis or Steve Hackett yet.

    by Andreas Lauer
    translated by Martin Klinkhardt


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