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The Journey Continues

Djabe & Steve Hackett - The Journey Continues


The Journey Continues Tour 2019 took place in three countries in early August. The final show was recorded in Nyíregyháza, Hungary. The performance was excellent and Steve wrote in his blog after the concert: "It went well. Djabe's exceptional musicianship was appreciated and everyone was in high spirits."

Attila Égerházi says the following about the set list of this tour: "During the compilation of the 2019 concert set-list our common creation, the track from Life Is A Journey, formed the backbone of the show, complemented in healthy proportions by compositions by Djabe, Steve Hackett and Genesis. We have always strived to be able to show our audience something new, so once again now we have included compositions that we have never played together. Such as one of my personal favourites, Hairless Heart from Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway opus. For the first time in Djabe’s repertoire, we played New Words with Steve, while Reflection Of Thiérache was last on the set list in 2008. This was the first composition in which Steve contributed to a Djabe album, back in 2003. Tears For Peace is also almost new, as we only played it live a few times after its 2012 release. Castelsardo At Night premiered on this tour live from the album Life Is A Journey".


CoverIn total, there are five tracks from the first Sardinia album, five more from Djabe's repertoire, plus four Genesis and one solo track by Steve. An additional treat on the DVD is the instrumental White Bear, which Djabe recorded at a concert in Washington DC in 2019.

So I asked myself: What makes a good live album? Because why should you buy an album whose individual tracks already exist as studio recordings in your own collection? Let's answer with a counter-question: Why should you go to a concert when you can listen to a band's music sitting comfortably in your armchair in the best quality on your own stereo?

Well, live is different. There is of course this atmosphere, the lightshow and the tracks often don't sound like the well-known studio version. They are often played more aggressively and with more drive than in the sterile studio. Of course, that should come across on an album. Bands also breathe new life into many songs, longer solos, different vocal lines and possibly completely new parts that grow in the course of the performances.


New Words

The concert opens with a typical Djabe composition. It begins restrained, spherical - I feel somewhat reminded of their album The Magic Stag. But suddenly, without transition, there is the soft ambient jazz that this band is known for. Gentle solos build mood, trumpet followed by an interlude of Attila's guitar playing, into which Steve enters with a beautiful, coherent solo. Towards the end, the tempo rises and it gets punchier.

A successful introduction that picks up the audience and takes them into the world of Djabe.


Reflections Of Thierache

A piece from 2003 from the album Sheafs are Dancing - on which Steve also appeared as a guest musician for the first time. It is mainly characterised by the typical trumpet playing of Áron Koós-Hutás and the piano accompaniment of János Nagy, who are present from beginning to end. A strong, powerful finale ends this track.


Life Is A Journey

The title track of the first Sardinia album follows next. After the somewhat repetitive opening with some singing, a strong middle section follows with many surprises and twists. Steve's part here sounds like he is improvising soulfully.

Djabe is a live band with a lot of skill, experience and feeling. At times, especially in the beginning, they are close to the studio version, but when it comes down to it, the musicians rise above themselves and there is the joy of playing that one wishes for a live performance.


Castelsardo At Night

As the title suggests, we are back in Sardinia. Chilling bass lines by Tamás Barabás, into which Steve enters with his familiar guitar playing. He clearly shapes the first minutes here supported by an accentuated keyboard layer. In contrast to the studio album, there is now a keyboard player who clearly enhances the composition with his playing and even delivers a great solo.


Buzzy Island

Already on Life Is A Journey, this is one of the most instrumentally impressive pieces - one of my favourites from the studio album. Higher tempo with powerful drumming and strong bass lines and fantastic solos. Compared to the studio version, Steve is given much more leeway here, which of course pleases his fans, but in return these other gifted musicians have to cut back a bit, which is a shame again.

Buzzy Island ends the really successful introduction to this concert. In the middle part, the programme unfortunately degrades a bit.


Tears For Peace

A Djabe piece from 2012 with vocals, which is rather rare. Unfortunately too flat and not very varied, which completely cancels out the great mood of the previous track.


Last Train To Istanbul

The Steve Hackett fan knows this of course from his album Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth. Not one of my favourites, not even as a version with Djabe. In my eyes, it simply doesn't fit into this set.


Golden Sand

The fourth song from the Sardinia album. Back again to the soulful jazz of Djabe, which lulls the listener so beautifully at first and brings them up with an instrumental climax at the end. This is again more what is to my taste. 


Hairless Heart

Played a little faster than the original, of course, the instrumental setup with trumpet is also not what you know.


Firth Of Fifth

Heavily shortened version (3:58) of course with a completely unusual opening. As a fan of Steve, one would say it is limited to the essentials, namely Steve's guitar part, which he delivers in his usual manner.


Gallop

An older Djabe track (from 1998), which, as the title describes, rides along rhythmically. Unfortunately a bit monotonous, but short and crisp.


Lava Lamp

This is followed by one of Djabe's showpieces with a length that does justice to a prog track (over 17 minutes). Typical jazz style with alternating solos and a recurring theme, at times technical and fiddly, but in my eyes it is still within the framework. One of those pieces that grows on you with each successive listen. I would really like to experience this live in a typical jazz venue.


Los Endos

The opening reminds me of the version Steve plays on his first Genesis Revisited album. Áron Koós-Hutás takes over Tony's keyboard part with the trumpet for long stretches - which sounds a bit strange. In the middle part, the band adds some fusion - not my thing. Only towards the end do the two styles unite into something homogeneous, which reconciles me with the piece.


In That Quiet Earth

Also starts completely unfamiliar with improvised guitar playing before finding its way to the well-known piece - interesting. Successful live version with a lot of new ideas and close enough to the original version.


After Limoncello

Number five from the Sardinia album. It was recorded a year earlier in St. Veit, Austria, and here Gulli Briem sits on the drums instead of Péter Kaszás. A relaxed end, relaxed music to chill out to.


Album versions:

The CD version comes with an 8-page digipak cover, 2 CDs, a DVD and a 24-page illustrated booklet with quotes from Steve Hackett & Djabe.

The NTSC/Region Free DVD in this set includes the 13 standard tracks as well as bonus tracks In That Quiet Earth and After Limoncello, recorded in St. Veit, Austria in 2018 and White Bears, recorded in Washington DC in 2019. Together, that's well over 100 minutes of music.

CD1

New Words
Reflections Of Thierache
Life Is A Journey
Castelsardo At Night
Buzzy Island
Tears For Peace


CD2

Last Train To Istanbul
Golden Sand
Hairless Heart
Firth Of Fifth
Gallop
Lava Lamp
Los Endos
In That Quiet Earth
(live in St. Veit)
After Limoncello (live in St. Veit)


DVD (Video)

New Words
Reflections Of Thierache
Life Is A Journey
Castelsardo At Night
Buzzy Island
Tears For Peace
Last Train To Istanbul
Golden Sand
Hairless Heart
Firth Of Fifth
Gallop
Lava Lamp
Los Endos

In That Quiet Earth (live in St. Veit 2018)
After Limoncello (live in St. Veit 2018)
White Bears (live in D.C. 2019)


Picture: NTSC / Region Free
Audio: Stereo und 5.1 Surround CD und DVD

Unfortunately, the 17-minute Lava Lamp and In That Quiet Earth are missing from the vinyl and tape editions, which I find a great pity. But there was simply no more room for it. As a substitute, the track Cloud Dance has been added - an absolutely good replacement. Both editions contain a little under 100 minutes of music.


All in all

When Steve makes music together with Djabe, something special always emerges. Personally, I appreciate it very much when Steve, as part of a band, simply adds his part with his typical guitar playing and the pieces develop through the collective input. If you look at video recordings of joint performances, you can see the musicians' joy of playing on stage.

In summary, it is a live album that fulfils my mentioned criteria over long stretches - unfortunately with a few skip candidates. The first third is very strong. The following part weakens: Tears for Peace and Last Train to Istanbul are failures for me personally. They should have put the fantastic Cloud Dance on there instead.
The Genesis pieces are good so far, but only In That Quiet Earth and the final part of Los Endos really bring something new that you haven't heard often enough. The highlight in the equally strong last part is certainly Lava Lamp.
After listening to the album extensively, I want to hear this band live - preferably together with Steve. Whether trumpet, guitar, keyboards, bass or drums - all instruments are played by professionals who know their trade. Not for prog fans who can't do anything with anything that goes in the direction of jazz. But those who have already enjoyed earlier co-productions of the band and Steve will also find a lot of beauty here.


Author: Zoltan Kelemen

The Journey Continues is available at CherryRed

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