STEVE HACKETT: "The Circus And The Nightwhale" (16 February 2024) - review online

  • I just watched the video

    I watched it as well and agree it's crap. But then most of Steve's videos are... and, honestly, I think most music videos in general are.


    I like the song a little better on second listen, though. Sure, it has all of Steve's trademark nonsense, but he's done worse stuff on his recent albums.

    “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’” -- Yogi Berra

  • I just watched the video which at least gave me a few unintended laughs. The crying baby at about 00.30 in is hilarious. The lumpen literal-mindedness of the imagery - the song mentions 'bombs fall in the night' and we see a street of wrecked houses and it's quite dark. 'Fairground' is mentioned - now here comes a twirling carousel. 'The bell tolls' - DANG! - oh look there's Big Ben!


    As for the song itself, it's shite.

    The fairground stuff, abut five seconds of it in colour when the rest of the video is monochrome, was totally jarring. I always like songs about London but this just didn't work. Once again he's released a video which has had no thought put into it. As for the song it may grow on me at some point.


    I have pre-ordered because I want an autographed copy as with the previous four albums. I remember when I first joined this board how excited I was that I could have autographed albums by a member of Genesis. I have a feeling this could be the last.


    And yet you have to applaud him for still making music, even though he is so reluctant to play any of it live.

  • And yet you have to applaud him for still making music, even though he is so reluctant to play any of it live.

    I certainly wouldn't pay to see a Steve Hackett concert where he plays a bunch of his more recent stuff. I think he's realistic enough to know what his fans want to hear live. I saw him about a month ago, and it was incredible.

  • Well, based on the music alone that was better than I was expecting based on the comments so far! The samples give it a bit of a feel of one of the tracks on Darktown, The Golden age of steam, maybe? It's ok.

    "I'm feeling so confused today
    They've gone and changed the rules again,,,"

  • Well, based on the music alone that was better than I was expecting based on the comments so far! The samples give it a bit of a feel of one of the tracks on Darktown, The Golden age of steam, maybe? It's ok.

    I was also reminded of those tracks. Honestly it felt like “People of the Smoke” is a worse variation/combo of songs Hackett’s already released… that said I don’t dislike the new track. I enjoy the parts of the song where Hackett shreds, even if I don’t love the entire song.

    I certainly wouldn't pay to see a Steve Hackett concert where he plays a bunch of his more recent stuff. I think he's realistic enough to know what his fans want to hear live. I saw him about a month ago, and it was incredible.

    Yeah there aren’t any songs from Surrender of Silence I’m dying for Hackett to play live. I would love for him to play “Anything But Love” and “Black Lightning”. That said I’m not sure if those songs still qualify as recent.

  • Agree with what others have said. Seems very typical for what Steve has been releasing the past 15-20 years.


    I know I'll buy the CD when it comes out, but most likely will join his last several releases that get played once, and never again.

    In reply to the first part of your comment, 15-20 years? That takes us back to 2003-2008, encompassing To Watch the Storms, Wild Orchids, Metamorpheus and Tribute, which I'd suggest are, for the first 3 at least, classic Hackett on form. I'd agree with you if you started with Wolflight, or GR2 (which is the real culprit in my view, as it seems to be the one that pulled him down an artistic alley he seems unable or unwilling to leave).

    As for the second part, I stopped buying at "edge of light", by which time I'd given him more benefit of the doubt than he warranted. It's such a shame, for before GR2, his body of work, to me at least, stands head and shoulders above anything Genesis did after he left, but I guess 30+ years of great output is more than most manage, so he owes us nothing. I can't help feeling that parting company with Roger King would help. He definitely brought a lot to the table in the early days, but I can't help thinking much of the rut Steve is in is of Roger's making.


    As for this track: As others have said, there's good bits, but it's all a bit "thrown together" and rushed, as well as being like much that has gone before. Using a train as the foundation is not the issue, Steve has done that successfully before, on Overnight Sleeper and Golden Age Of Steam, as have others, like Godley & Creme's Under Your Thumb.


    The video is a separate issue, like most, it's made by someone else, and like most these days, it's made on a budget, so lots of stills and library photos and footage. Given the album is "semi-autobiographic", that Steve is from London, and "The Smoke" is slang for London, I'm not sure what else you'd include at the bell tolling, other than the Elizabeth Tower. Sydney Opera House? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of Wildebeast sweeping majestically across the plains?

    Ian


    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!

  • In reply to the first part of your comment, 15-20 years? That takes us back to 2003-2008, encompassing To Watch the Storms, Wild Orchids, Metamorpheus and Tribute, which I'd suggest are, for the first 3 at least, classic Hackett on form. I'd agree with you if you started with Wolflight, or GR2 (which is the real culprit in my view, as it seems to be the one that pulled him down an artistic alley he seems unable or unwilling to leave).

    For me, everything after Wild Orchids (2006) has been disappointing. So, I guess 17 years, rather than 15-20 :)

  • haven't even bothered to listen, because i suspect i know what will be like...similar to the last few releases, fairly forgettable

    I was thinking about how when he played like in the early 80s, all solo stuff..maybe Horizons...and was a great show. Now playing lots of Genesis stuff with the odd solo track and hardly bothered to play recent stuff ..funny how careers can change, but helps to pay the bills

  • I certainly wouldn't pay to see a Steve Hackett concert where he plays a bunch of his more recent stuff. I think he's realistic enough to know what his fans want to hear live. I saw him about a month ago, and it was incredible.

    Yes, he knows what his fans want. Perhaps then he shouldn't tout each new album with the lavish purple prose he does. If he really did think his more recent music was as great as he claims, he'd want to play it live.

  • I sense quite a negative vibe here in this thread. Why not wait until we hear the complete album?

    I know what you mean. I try to be positive. I’m a big Steve fan, have all his stuff and have seen him on nearly every tour since 1979. I’ve met him three times and he is the nicest of people. I really want him to produce another great album. But like a lot of people here I’ve found the albums since Wolflight (except the acoustic one) to be very samey and uninspiring. I don’t blame him. He’s hit a formula, live and on record, that sells well and he’s developed a lifestyle on the road which suits him and Jo and the best of luck to them and the team. I’m actually a little, very cautiously, optimistic that this album might be better because of the concept aspect and I don’t dislike the cover as much as others. This first track sounds a bit more like what I’d call his middle period but it’s a bit of a pastiche (which is probably fine for a concept album). So, yes, I’ll reserve judgment until I hear it all and I look forward to it. But I understand people being weary of his output over the last few years. When I go to play a Hackett album it’s rarely a recent one. At the moment it’s Guitar Noir, which I’ve recently discovered having somehow missed or first time around. Hopefully the new album will have some of its contrasts and room to breathe.

  • This is the second single, Wherever You Are


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    cheers

    Christian


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  • While it's only just about kind of okay it's nevertheless a zillion times better than the first one and thank heavens we're spared another godawful video.


    I haven't heard a complete album of his for some time but the songs I do hear always seem to lack the subtlety and the light & shade that characterised his earlier work.


    Some here have a problem with his voice but I've never minded it and like how it's matured over the years, it sounds pretty good on this.

    Abandon all reason

  • I don't mind that one actually. Not fully my cup of tea but it's not bad for what it is. Has a bit more scope and texture than most of his other stuff that I've heard.


    Edit: Backdrifter I think we were listening simultaneously and hit post at exactly the same moment!

  • While it's only just about kind of okay it's nevertheless a zillion times better than the first one and thank heavens we're spared another godawful video.

    You wanted a video, here it is


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    cheers

    Christian


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  • Hmmm! Still a bit in the post-Wolflight vein, not too bad, but I'd still rather have something a-la Twice Around the Sun or In Memoriam. I've always quite liked Steve's voice, post Cured at any rate, but there's something about it here where it just doesn't quite work.

    Ian


    Putting the old-fashioned Staffordshire plate in the dishwasher!