Wienerworld 2005 / Esoteric Antenna 2013
Start of a solo stage voyage for former GENESIS axeman, caught in a studio but live to the hilt.
October 8th, 1978 saw Steve Hackett’s fifth solo concert ever, but such was the guitarist’s confidence in the band he took command of, after leaving a certain prog leviathan the previous year, that he felt ready to play for a TV programme “Musikladen.” Equally unshakable was Hackett’s faith in a new material, because the set Steve’s ensemble performed in Germany, as preserved on this DVD, not only looked into the recent past but also into the future. Bright and delighted, if slightly belligerent – the attitude stressed by high boots which the veteran would return to in 2014, with his latest GENESIS spell – the only concession he does to his previous group here, to the audience’s cheers, is an unaccompanied showcase, “Horizons,” preceded by a mischievous smile-signaled snippet of “Blood On The Rooftops.”
That’s much less than the energetic material from "Spectral Morning" that would be recorded a few months later, so there’s no recognition of closer “Clocks” or “Tigermoth” which, together with “Land Of A Thousand Autumns” from Hackett’s then-recent "Please Don't Touch", creates a slow build-up to a main theme of that album’s title track, delivered by Steve on a weird-shaped FX-laden guitar. On the visual front, it feels as strange to see the maestro not with his regular Les Paul but with a black Strat, armed with a tremolo, which is used quite aggressively, its sound being contrasted with John Hackett‘s delicate flute interjections. Rounding off the group are short-haired and bespectacled Peter Hicks, a very unlikely pop vocalist perfectly fitting the song – “Racing In A” that sees bassist Dik Cadbury grooving behind the lines and later supplying choirboy falsetto for “Shadows Of The Hierophant,” or the whistle-enhanced “Narnia” – while the bare-torsoed John Shearer is a blueprint rock drummer.
Still, of course, it’s their leader who’s the focus of it all, Steve’s work most mesmerising on “A Tower Struck Down” and other pieces from his solo debut, "Voyage Of The Acolyte", which he never toured. “Ace Of Wands” is particularly revealing as this instrumental demonstrates how some of its strange effects had in fact been created by manually operating the guitar, with and without the slider, rather than relying on electronics that lie in the heart of “Optigan.” Above all, this video – expanded with an unaired footage – is the earliest official document of his journey, and it catches Hackett at his most invigorating, the phase not to be repeated and all the better for it.