Lee Speaks About Music… #165

Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith – Steve Hackett

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Introduction…

Steve Hackett is back with yet another live release and I am beginning to lose count of how many live concerts I have of his I have brought over the years. To be perfectly honest I had no intention of buying this one especially down to the fact of how badly mixed Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra Live At The Royal Festival Hall turned out. The only real thing that twisted my arm was that it was mixed by one of the wizards of 5.1 recordings namely Steven Wilson.

To be perfectly honest the biggest majority of live concerts I have on DVD & Blu Ray in surround sound are disappointing and in general it is studio albums where most of the immersive enjoyable experience of surround sound can stand out a lot more.

However, I do also have some STUNNING! live concerts mixed in 5.1 that can also give you the same immersive experience. So, it just goes to prove and show that if the 5.1 mixing engineer has the right head on his shoulders the best results can be achieved and exist in both studio and live recordings. It’s just a shame that there are only a few 5.1 mixing engineers in this world who are really capable of doing such a thing with them.

There is nothing out there that could ever really capture the atmosphere and true sound of a live concert and the only way you will ever capture that is to be at the concert itself. Though I will say that if a 5.1 mix is done right it is by far the nearest thing to it you will ever get. It can to a certain degree actually give you the presence and feeling of being there which is something even Steve Hackett’s long-time recording engineer Benedict Fenner did when he did the 5.1 mix of Hackett’s live acoustic concert back in 2003 that can be heard on the Hungarian Horizons: Live in Budapest DVD.

That 5.1 mix only has the audience placed in the rear surrounds and it does give the presence of you actually sitting there at the venue itself and is probably one of the best examples of how well effectively 5.1 works in an acoustic surrounding. It’s also certainly the best 5.1 mix I have ever heard Benedict Fenner do and one I would most certainly use as a reference recording. I do have some excellent stereo recordings of live acoustic concerts that can also give you the presence of being there, though this recording excels those by quite a margin and sounds purely FANTASTIC!

There is no doubt in my mind that multi-channel recordings can bring the listener much closer to the music where you can get to hear everything in it, much more than even a pair of headphones will ever give you. Where there is a lot more instruments to be placed in the mix as in the case of even a live band, separating them all is where 5.1 has a lot more advantage over stereo.

As well as I know of how good of a 5.1 mixing engineer Steve Wilson is. I have never heard him mix a live album before. He may very well have done 5.1 mixes of his own live concerts though I honestly could not tell you because I am not into his music and it does not appeal to my taste.

The 5.1 mix he did of Steve Hackett’s 3rd studio album Spectral Mornings is by far the best 5.1 mix that has been done on any of his studio albums. There is no doubt in my mind that Wilson would of done a top job on the 5.1 mix of this latest live concert of Hackett’s.

However, can it compete with some of the other STUNNING! live concerts I have that have been mixed in surround sound? And most importantly will the 5.1 mix make this a GOTO concert that will make you want to play it more often like the effect that those other live concerts have on you?

I should also stress that there is a lot more to this review than just the surround mix in that this is a live concert that features Steve Hackett and his band playing two iconic albums back to back. That alone should be a tempting turkey more so than any mix. But before I delve any deeper into the concert itself, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

Packaging & Artwork…

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The 3 discs come in a very well-made cardboard 4-panel DigiPak that has plastic trays to firmly hold the discs in place and it also has a handy pocket to store the booklet. The 12-page booklet consists mostly of pictures from the concert, it does contain a bit of informative information plus all the production linear notes and credits.

Artwork.

The cover design was done by Thomas Ewerhard and like most live concerts was made up with the use of photographs taken from the concert. The photographs were taken by Lee Millward, Mick Bannister, Howard Rankin, Chris Simmonds, David Clay, Martin Porter and Andrea Holmes.

Release Editions.

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The concert was released in 5 formats counting the Digital Download which would be the cheapest option and costs £11.99. The cheapest physical formats are the 2 CD/DVD, 2 CD/Blu Ray packages at £15.46 & £15.68 respectively. For vinyl lovers the Vinyl Edition comes in a box set that contains 4 180-gram LP’s & 2 CD’s for £39.85.

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The vinyl Edition was also released on a “Lawnmower Green” colour but was a Limited Edition of 300 copies only (all sold out) and was sold exclusively on Steve Hackett’s website. Please note that all the prices I have quoted are from Amazon UK and the prices can fluctuate. They are however considerably cheaper. For example, on his website the vinyl box set will cost £45 plus postage & packing.

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There is also a Limited Art-Book Edition that can be had for around £40. It also comes signed if you purchase it from his website and is not sold any cheaper on Amazon UK. This edition comes with 2 CD’s plus the DVD & Blu Ray. Though personally I find these types of packages may look very neat and come in a quality presentation. However, does one really need all 3 formats.

One of the biggest downfalls that prevented me from buying this package is really down to the lack of informative information that is contained in the Art-Book. I know this from my experience of buying the Art-Book of his Live At The Royal Albert Hall concert which comes with the same amount of discs and cost £10 cheaper than this. It’s mostly filled with Glossy pictures taken from the concert.

Had it have been more like what Arjen Lucassen does with his Ear-Books by putting in plenty of well good detailed informative information besides just pictures. I may have been tempted to buy it. The other downside is that unless you are a vinyl collector (to which I am not) these things can present you with a problem of being able to store them.

Live At Hammersmith In Review…

Steve Hackett’s Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings Live At Hammersmith was released on the 25th September 2020. It’s very much a concert that captures Hackett and his band at the London venue back in November last year. It’s also a venue he has played at many a time, though he does still have fond memories of playing at the same venue back in the early 70’s with his former band Genesis playing the material from one of the bands most iconic albums.

There can be no doubt that this would have attracted most people to pay the price of the concert ticket see the show and buy this new release. Adding to it he is also playing material from one of his own iconic albums that will also help in pulling in the punters adding to the sales. Which can only be a good thing and I am glad to see that he is still going strong today and wish him all the success in the world.

Steve Hackett is someone I do have a lot of respect and admiration for and he is the only former member of Genesis who really stuck by his guns and never changed his style of music from prog-rock to pop like the band did. His own solo career continues to see him work in the field of prog-rock which is also something I could not say for the other members solo careers of the band. Although there is no denying that the band and even some of its members namely Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford became far more successful and popular. But today you could also say that Steve Hackett is more in the limelight than any of those now.

Part of his success is very much down to him keeping the music of his former band still alive today. Though as much as I love the music of Genesis up until the time, he had left the band back in 1977. I have to confess the only thing that did attract my attention to this particular live concert was like I mentioned in my introduction was the 5.1 surround mix done by Steven Wilson and not so much the fact he was playing two iconic albums that I do also love to bits. As to if I got more than I expected? I will let you know at the end of my review but for now let’s take a look at the package contents.

The CD’s.

Like the CD’s that come in some of the previous live releases Hackett has put out they exclude all the talking in between the songs. However, you do get all the songs that were played at the concert spread over the 2 discs. The first CD contains 12 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 63 minutes, 10 seconds. The 2nd CD contains 9 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 63 minutes, 50 seconds.

The Blu Ray.

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The main menu gives you four options to choose from “Play Concert”. “Behind The Scenes”. “Song Selection” and “Audio Menu”. It’s simple enough to navigate and has a white square to indicate each of the four options which by default is set to the first of them.

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The “Song Selection” menu (as seen above) is split over two screens with the first of them displaying all the tracks that were played in the first half of the set and the second screen displays the second half of the set. The “Chapters 1 & 2” are your way of navigating between the two screens and you also have the option “Return To main Menu” to take you back.

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The “Audio Menu” gives you the choice of two audio soundtracks both in 24-bit 48K lossless formats. By default, its set to the Stereo Mix and you also have the DTS HD 5.1 Audio for surrounds FREAKS! like myself 😁😁😁. Overall, the interface of the menu is very good and looks pristine sharp and is burst shot bright. There is a slight pause in between loading the screens of the navigation panel and each screen plays different audio snippets from the concert.

The “Behind The Scenes” is the only bonus feature you do get and it is exclusive to Blu Ray only and not included on the DVD Edition. Though I personally would not say it was a deal breaker regarding your choice and for me the DTS HD 5.1 Audio is the bigger deal because the DVD does only come with a lossy stereo mix and a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

You get near enough 34 minutes of Hackett and the band talking about the show and you have things like the meet and greet where people paid the extra to get to talk to the man himself and him basically having a bit of a drink after the show with his wife, and mother. It perhaps does not have enough informative information to entice you to want to see it more than once but better than nothing 😁😁😁.

The Picture & Film Editing Quality.

The concert was filmed, edited and produced by Paul M Green of Film 24 Productions who specialise in high-definition multi-camera filming and have filmed many other well-known artists. The show was captured by 10 camera operators capturing all the right angles and the footage has been very well edited capturing both the audience and the band and enabling it to bring you closer the musicians on the stage.

The picture quality is perhaps not pristine like some shows have been captured and put onto Blu Ray. However, the Hammersmith Odeon was always a dark and dismal place and it’s only really down to the better lighting they have these days that they are able to capture concerts a lot more clearly now. Overall, an excellent job has been done by all here.

The 5.1 Surround & Stereo Mixes.

Two mixes done by two different mixing engineers is perhaps a strange thing to come across but I can see why. Although the latter of the two engineers is very much capable of doing a GRAND! job of both. The stereo mix was done by Steve Hackett’s long-time keyboard player Roger King who also does the biggest majority of the mixes for his studio albums.

To be honest most stereo mixing engineers tend to know what they are doing and King has done a very good job of the mix as always. I don’t think I could ever doubt his ability in that field. 5.1 mixes however, are a completely different ball game and there are very few engineers that excel in that field and King is certainly not one of them. Though I have seen some improvements on some of the more recent Hackett studio albums he has done the 5.1 mixes for and he is improving.

Steve Wilson on the other hand I will say is excellent at doing both stereo and 5.1 mixes and he does excel in both of these fields. You only have to listen to what he did with the Jethro Tull’s 1971 Aqualung album to vouch for that. I doubt Roger King and a million other stereo mixing engineers could have ever brought that album back to life and done what he did with it. That was a MASSIVE! achievement in that it was a very difficult album to mix in the first place and never sounded right till he got his hands on it.

When it comes to multi-channel surround mixes Steve Wilson has very much became a GOD! for many surround FREAKS! including myself and he is without doubt one of the top mixing engineers in this field. Mixing engineers of his calibre are very much a rarity in this world and only a minute few exist.

There are perhaps a couple of reasons as to why the stereo mix was left to Roger King. The first being tied in with his long-term relationship of being close friends and the other down to time constraints in getting the job done quicker. However, I can assure you that at the end of the day there is nothing remotely disappointing about the stereo mix and you will be happy enough with it.

The 5.1 mix however could very well add to the amount of sales this release sells and surround FREAKS! like myself will not be disappointed either. This is by far the best 5.1 mix that has ever been put on any of Hackett’s electric live concerts and it excels every one of them by quite a margin. The attention to detail that Wilson has given to the live mix is flawless in that he has very much carefully arranged some of the right instrumentation to be placed in the rear channels to make it work, and panned other instruments and FX to good effect.

The wind instruments played by both Rob Townsend & John Hackett work extremely well placed in the rear and so to do the backing vocals. Both the clarity and dynamics work extremely well and are well defined throughout the whole of the show.

Rob Townsend’s sax in some parts being placed in the left rear speaker reminds me of the Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature live DVD from 2003. Although the sax does not quite project as well as in that concert and give you the notable surprise effect for you to turn your head towards the sound of it and think WOW! It’s a concert I highly recommend for surround FREAKS! and Elliot Scheiner is very much another GOD! and perhaps the number one in the field when it comes to surround mixes. It would not surprise me if Steve Wilson has been learning from his mixes either.

Overall, considering this is the first live 5.1 mix I have heard Steve Wilson do, he has without doubt done quite an impressive TOP JOB! of it and it easily merits TOP MARKS! of 10 out of 10. However, what I will say is that as good as the job he has done here I do have a few live concerts that are certainly more STUNNING! than this one and more of what I would call Surround Sound Heaven in that they will blow your socks off. That Steely Dan live DVD I mentioned is also one of them.

Musicians & Credits…

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Directed & Produced by Paul M Green. Concert Sound Recording by Martin Knight. Sound Recording Engineer Benedict Fenner Front House Sound. Stereo Mix by Roger King.  5.1 Surround Mix by Steven Wilson. Camera Operators Stephen Lay, Gwyn Hemmings, James Fox + Doco, Nick Payne, Chris Flemming, Alfie Warnham, Anthony Graham, Mike Simpson, Phil Davis & Ryan Clutton.

Editing & Authoring by Paul M Green. Cover Design by Thomas Ewerhard. Photography by Lee Millward, Mick Bannister, Howard Rankin, Chris Simmonds, David Clay, Martin Porter and Andrea Holmes.

Musicians.
Steve Hackett: Guitar/Vocals.
Roger King: Keyboards.
Rob Townsend: Saxophone/Woodwind/Percussion/Vocals/Keyboards/Bass Pedals.
Jonas Reingold: Bass/Bass Pedals/Variax/Twelve String Guitar/Vocals.
Craig Blundell: Drums/Percussion/Vocals.
Nad Sylvan: Vocals/Tambourine.

Special Guests.
Amanda Lehmann: Vocals/Guitar.
John Hackett: Flute.

The Concert In Review…

The live concert we have here was filmed at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London on the 29th November 2019. It was also the final show of his Genesis Revisited tour that he embarked on and kicked off earlier on in the year at the Kursaal in  Oostend, Belgium on the 22nd of April. In total Hackett played 83 shows mostly in Europe but also in some parts of America and Canada.

You may well of noticed the change of name from the Hammersmith Apollo to the Eventim Apollo and it’s currently now named like this for sponsorship reasons just like it’s previous name. Venues such as this change their name all the time down to sponsorship deals and its been that way since the building was refurbished with the Canadian brewing company Labbatt’s contributing towards the cost of the refurbishment around 1993/94. Though many including myself will still commonly call it the Hammersmith Odeon.

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The Art Deco styled building was designed by Robert Cromie and it was originally called the Gaumont Palace when it opened up in 1932 and seated nearly 3,500 people. It was not until 1962 that the venue became more better known as The Hammersmith Odeon and its one of London’s most popular indoor venues to stage live concerts.

Just about everybody who has been in the limelight has played there since the late 50’s including Buddy Holly who played a couple of nights at the venue back in 1958. it opened up in 1932. Many more famous American acts followed suit in the early 60’s such as the likes of Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Even The Beatles played there in late 1964 and played 38 shows over 21 nights in 1965 at the venue.

Around 2005 further developments to the building extended its capacity from 3, 500 to 5,000 and in it was given an extensive refurbishment in 2013 and upon re-opening in the same year that’s when it was given the name of the Eventim Apollo.

Steve Hackett’s band line up and the couple of guest musicians he has tagging along with him, is more or less the same line-up he had on his 2018 tour with the orchestra. The only real notable change is that there is no orchestra and Craig Blundell has replaced Gary O’Tool on the drums. Blundell is no stranger to prog-rock and has previously played in the past with the neo-prog bands Frost*, Kino and others.

He’s also played drums for Steve Wilson back in 2015 where he was ushered in as a last-minute replacement for the absent Marco Minnemann on one of his live tours and played on four of the tracks on his 2017 studio album To The Bone. So, he obviously has right credentials to fit in with this band line-up, though I have to confess I do miss Gary O’Tool because he also came with a GREAT! voice beside being quite an outstanding drummer.

Like I mentioned earlier regarding how playing the music of his former band Genesis as in many respects catapulted Hackett’s success back into the limelight and pulls in a lot more attraction. I’ve also noticed over the last few years that he has injected a lot more of his former bands music into his live shows and it’s starting to take over his own solo career.

By doing what he is doing you could say that effectively he’s becoming a bit like Roger Waters who tends to brush the music from his own solo career under the carpet at his live shows. Although he’s not completely gone as far as Waters in that respect however, it does tend to come across to me like that and his live shows are starting to become too much of the same thing. Which is also one of the reasons I did not intend to buy this new live release. So, let’s now see if this live concert is going to give me anything special apart from the surround mix.

On With The Show…

What you do get on the DVD or Blu Ray is the whole of the show which has a running time of near enough 2 hours, 18 minutes. The first half of the show celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Steve Hackett’s classic 1979 album Spectral Mornings and although the biggest majority of the album gets played in the first set, he’s shuffled it around a bit in relation to the playing order of the tracks on the original album. He’s also sandwiched a few of the tracks from his latest album At The Edge Of Light in between.

Set One.

The intro to “Tigermoth” is played as the band enter the stage which also includes one of the special guests Amanda Lehmann. Although you would hardly call her a special guest as she has been making appearances on Hackett’s studio albums and been on tour with him for quite a long time now. However, I was surprised to see that Nad Sylvan had also joined them as he’s only usually there for the Genesis part of the show.

After the intro Craig Blundell’s drum rolls into action and they roll out the first track from the classic album “Everyday” and I will say the way Hackett’s voice has improved over the years and does make this sound like they have more or less got it down to tee vocal wise. Lehmann’s voice works particularity well alongside Hackett’s and all the other members of the bands harmonies also work well. She also gets to play guitar alongside Hackett on this opening number too.

Musically once again they have more or less got it down to a tee and the only real thing that is missing is the harmonic effect on the bass guitar to which I have heard both Ian Ellis and Lee Pomeroy emulate the sound pretty much precisely in the past on his live shows.

Though as with any live performance it does not have to be spot on to the studio recording and if it was, I am sure one would soon get bored and they really do an excellent job of it as always. I should also stress that I am not having a knock at Jonas Reingold either who is also an excellent bass player, he also contributes a lot of guitar on this show too.

Hackett then explains to his audience the kind of show they are in for and it’s at this point we take a break from the Spectral Mornings album already. It’s also at this point that he decides to roll out 3 tracks from hie new album At The Edge Of Light and they happen to be the first 3 tracks on the album and once again he’s shuffled the playing order around.

Under the Eye of the Sun” is the first of them up and you can see the GRAND! job they do it from the video from the concert that was posted on the record labels official Tube channel.

Nad Sylvan then exits the stage and is not seen again till the second part of the show. Lehmann also temporarily leaves stage but only for the a couple of minutes whilst the rest of band knock out the short instrumental piece “Fallen Walls and Pedestals” which runs straight into “Beasts in Our Time” and once again they have all do a GRAND! job and Rob Townsend gets to play some tasty sax parts on this little set from the At The Edge Of Light album.

It’s time to return back to the Spectral Mornings album and this next song “The Virgin and the Gypsy” is one of my personal highlights from the first half of the show. It’s also the first of two of the songs to feature his brother John Hackett on flute and I’ve always loved Hackett’s acoustic playing and his 12 strings acoustic sounds GORGEOUS! on this one and also accompanied by Reingold on electric 12 string. It’s also Amanda Lehmann’s final contribution of the show and the vocals are extremely well done on this song.

A rather short version of “Tigermoth” follows and it’s only the instrumental section they play of the song which I felt was a shame as it is my personal favourite song from the album, though I could add a few others easily enough too. However, it’s very well arranged and along with the albums self-titled instrumental track “Spectral Mornings” to which they play next I would also include both of them in my highlights from the first half of the show.

Hackett’s nylon stringed classical guitar is then brought out for “The Red Flower of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere” and once again John Hackett returns to the stage for his final flute contribution to the show and this final part of the set are all instrumental pieces and it gets wound up with “Clocks – The Angel of Mons“. It’s perhaps a bit strange ending off this part of the show this way and surely the self-titled track would have been the better option. But nevertheless, I cannot take anything away from the performances and Hackett and the band have done a really GREAT! job.

Set Two.

The second half of the set is dedicated to Genesis and mainly features the material from their 1973 album Selling England By The Pound. It also features the main musicians only and none of the special guests feature in this part of the show. Unlike Spectral Mornings they play the whole of the album and it’s good to see they have not shuffled the track order around. The other good thing is that although most of these songs have been played live by Hackett before there are a few that have not.

The second half of the show opens up with Nad Sylvan’s unaccompanied voice on the introduction to “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight” and he has quite a GABRIEL-ESC quality to his voice to deliver the song very well too. However, I would also say that it is his voice that perhaps contributes more to the tribute side of things here and as to if that’s a good thing that really depends on how you yourself see it. As for myself I can be on the opposite side of the fence most times and there are moments when I can get used to it, and others when I just can’t.

There is no doubt he is doing a GRAND! job though and they are more or less have this song down to a tee. The band have a playful time by doing an extended version of “I Know What I Like” which allows Rob Townsend to play solos on both the sax and flute and its perhaps the only song where they have done a different arrangement by adding the solos. It also allows Hackett to take a seat on the drum riser.

Firth of Fifth” is one of the couple of songs in this set that gives Roger King a chance to play more of a vital part especially with its opening piano solo. It is actually very evident by watching this live concert that on most of the songs he has less to do and that is something you would very rarely see if you were to watch Tony Banks playing the same songs.

This is really down to some of the keyboard parts and in most cases more of the dominant lead parts being given to Townsend to play on the sax. I suppose in a way they do this to make him fit in more with the band were as most wind players would only appear in a short section of a song were needed. He even gets to play some of the guitar parts in some cases too.

However, what is noticeable is that it is only ever on the live shows and not on the studio albums that Townsend gets all this extra work and at times I do feel that his role can be too much and be too overpowering. He did also say in his interview in the behind the scenes footage that he gets to play more parts and people will either love or it hate it.  I would not say that I hate it and he is a really GREAT! musician but perhaps he needs stop bogarting the joint 😁😁😁.

The next 3 numbers from the album Hackett has never played live with his band before and the first of them “More Fool Me” he never even played guitar on the original version back in 1973. The acoustic guitar was played by Mike Rutherford and it was sung by Phil Collins.

To be perfectly honest I have no idea why this song was included on the original album in the first place because it’s nothing to write home about and something that would be more fitting to stick on the B-Side of a single more than anything else. It is without doubt the weakest track on the Selling England By The Pound album and perhaps prevents it from being the solid album that it would of been without it.

Though I have noticed that some reviewers are hailing this version has the nearest thing to hearing Peter Gabriel sing it. I personally would not go that far and I think Peter Jones of Tiger Moth Tales has done just as much of a fine job of reviving the song by himself singing and playing it on his acoustic guitar over the more recent years.

The next couple of tracks from the album are certainly more to my taste and are really good to see they have been included. “The Battle of Epping Forest” is one of my personal favourite tracks from the album and a song that even the original band very rarely ever played live. I absolutely love this song and I have to say that Nad Sylvan certainly would have had his work cut out here and does do quite a good job of the many expressionate characteristic roles that Gabriel originally gave to the song.

The instrumental track of the album “After the Ordeal” is another pleasant surprise and another track from the album I’ve always loved unlike Tony Banks who at times can really do my head in at times when I hear him speak about much of the bands earlier material. What I do miss in this live version though is Hackett’s nylon guitar because he does play it all on his electric. The second part also has quite a Brian May ESC! sound too which is quite lovely and it also had that one the original version.

This is also a piece were Townsend’s sax does work really well by playing a slightly different counterpart melody to accompany Hackett’s lead lines on the guitar. Both of these are amongst my personal highlights from the show along with “The Cinema Show” and “Aisle of Plenty” which in reality is really one song.

Like “Firth of Fifth” this is a song that they have played several times in the past but I quite like this performance because it does give King the chance to play more of a role on the keyboards in particular with the solo. Sylvan’s voice also works very well on this song has you can see in this other official video that the record label posted on their Tube channel.

This song very much puts an end to the album although its not quite over because the next song “Déjà Vu“is a song that Steve Hackett was working on with Peter Gabriel around the time they made the album back in 1973. It was though only a rough demo and Hackett asked Gabriel if he could finish it off around the time, he was working on the first Genesis Revisited studio album Watcher of the Skies back in 1996. The song was also included on the album and sung by Paul Carrack.

It now gets its first live airing and  Sylvan’s voice on this one does give you an idea of what it would of sounded like if Peter Gabriel had sung it. To be honest I am surprised that Gabriel never thought about doing it himself because it is a good song and in my opinion much better than “More Fool Me“. Though both songs in reality do not really fit in and GEL! with the rest of the material on Selling England By The Pound.

It’s at this stage that Hackett introduces the audience to the members of the band and they then roll out a couple of songs from the 1976 Trick Of The Tail album both of which they have played live on numerous occasions. “Dance on a Volcano” is up first to which afterwards they go off the stage and come on back for a final encore and end the show off with “Los Endos“. They then bring back the 2 special guests and all take their bows to the audience in appreciation to them.

Summary…

To sum up Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings Live At Hammersmith by Steve Hackett. I am going to start by tackling two of the three questions I posed throughout my review which should shed a bit more light has to why I put Steve Wilson’s surround mix before the concert itself and it really being the tempting turkey why I brought this live concert in the first place.

Firstly, I should explain that regardless of any concert having a surround mix or not, it should not make a blind bit of difference when it comes to the enjoyment one can get from listening or watching any live concert. I am sure like myself you have many live concerts that contain outstanding live performances and at the end of the day just because a concert comes with a surround mix should not really make it the deal breaker.

I have my own personal reasons why I was going to avoid buying this concert in the first place and it has nothing to do with how badly mixed his last concert Genesis Revisited Band & Orchestra Live At The Royal Festival Hall turned out either.

My real gripe for not wanting to buy this concert in the first place in all honesty is really down to him becoming a bit too much like Roger Waters in wanting to play too much material from the previous bands they were in. I am not saying that Hackett has quite gone as far as Waters in that he more or less plays most of the material from his former band and ignores the biggest majority of his own solo material like he does. But it’s becoming too much of the same thing and we are seeing far less of his own acoustic material which for myself is where I personally think he shines a lot more.

The other thing is that the way he is now playing the Genesis songs has become much more like a tribute with how they are played too close to the original songs. He’s even got it down to having one singer for them who has a GABRIEL-ESC voice (to which no doubt many may prefer) but as much as I could even enjoy seeing a tribute band such as The Watch play these songs live. There is no way I would actually spend my money buying a live recording of it and they have more of a GABRIEL-ESC singer than what Hackett has 😁😁😁.

When Hackett first started all this Genesis Revisited malarkey back in 1996 with the first of the studio albums. He very much gave the Genesis songs something that bit different with how they were arranged. He also had many different singers to sing them to which he also did the same with the follow up studio album and when he first took the songs out on the road to play live for a good few year. However, over the years both the different arrangements and the many singers got thrown out and over the more recent years I do find his shows have started to become a bit too sterile.

I can perhaps understand him not using many different singers down to how less cost effective it would be to play these songs live and, in some respect, he was lucky to have a drummer like Gary O’Tool who really had the GREAT! voice to tackle some of the songs. But I could not put my hand on my heart and say that any of these Genesis Revisited concerts are better than his much earlier concerts where he only played the odd Genesis song if you were lucky.

Even though Steve Hackett may very well be keeping the spirit of these Genesis songs alive he’s not the only one who is. I don’t mind hearing the odd Genesis song now and then but they are not what attracts me to buy the concert in the first place simply because at the end of the day it is only a tribute and will never speak the same to me as the original line-up of the band from back in those days no matter how well they play the songs.

Getting back to the surround mix and to my couple of questions. In answer to the first of them of can it compete with some of the other STUNNING! live concerts I have that have been mixed in surround sound? To a degree I would say YES! because Steve Wilson’s 5.1 mix is well worthy of its 10 out 10 rating.

However, regarding the second question of if this mix will make it a GOTO! concert that you will want to play it more often? The answer has to be NO! Simply because this concert does not have the STUNNING! factor like others I have of other bands and they go up to a Spinal Tap 11 😁😁😁.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings Live At Hammersmith by Steve Hackett. There is no doubt that the material from the two iconic albums will appeal to many to want to buy this live concert. There can no doubt that the live performances of all the songs are far from disappointing and they have more or less nailed all the songs with this performance.

The final question I have to answer is did I get more out of this concert than I expected? Personally, it’s difficult for myself to say that I did even though it comes with an excellent 5.1 mix and GREAT! performances. I think it boils down to my own personal views of wanting to see something different from him and many of these live concerts are now too much alike.

I did however enjoy the concert and in particular the songs he had never performed live with his own band before. I certainly think that others will take a lot more from it than myself down to my own personal viewpoint. The other thing I can say is that I certainly never wasted my money and at its price point it’s well worth getting.

My personal highlights from the concert are as follows: “The Virgin and the Gypsy“. “Tigermoth“. “Spectral Mornings“. “The Battle of Epping Forest“. “After the Ordeal” and “The Cinema Show“.

Take A Little Trip Back…

The 2 CD Track Listing is as follows:

Disc 1.
01. Intro. 1:24.
02. Every Day. 6:29.
03. Under the Eye of the Sun. 5:36.
04. Fallen Walls and Pedestals. 2:15.
05. Beasts in Our Time. 6:26.
06. The Virgin and the Gypsy. 4:42.
07. Tigermoth. 3:14.
08. Spectral Mornings. 6:25.
09. The Red Flower of Tai Chi Blooms. 2:16.
10. Clocks – The Angel of Mons. 6:56.
11. Dancing With the Moonlit Knight. 7:28.
12. I Know What I Like. 9:47.

Disc 2.
01. Firth of Fifth. 10:05.
02. More Fool Me. 3:27.
03. The Battle of Epping Forest. 11:43.
04. After the Ordeal. 5:00.
05. The Cinema Show. 11:01.
06. Aisle of Plenty. 1:39.
07. Déjà Vu. 6:24.
08. Dance on a Volcano. 6:08.
09. Los Endos. 8:23.

Lee’s Overall Package Rating…

The Price Point Rating. 10/10.

The Picture Quality Rating. 9/10.

The 5.1 Mix Rating. 10/10.

The Stereo Mix. 8/10.

The Bonus Material Rating. 2/10.

The Overall Concert Rating. 7.5/10.

3 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #165

  1. You know I am not so interested in 5.1 and Genesis, but nevertheless I read your review and watched the video for “Under the eye of the sun”. It seems, that still many people have a desire for the old progressive phase of Genesis, when Mr.Hackett is still waving the flag of Prog and people are buying his albums. As you say many of the old prog-giants have turned their back to progressive rock and the best example might be Phil Collins, who successfully turned into a pop-star. Yes shocked their fans, when they published 90125. Even King Crimson changed their style during the 80s influenced by New Wave. If I think on progressive bands, who never wimped out, I would name Gentle Giant and Van der Graaf generator, though I can not say, that I know their whole discography very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think many bands and artists are now jumping on band wagon of progrock these days because there does seem to be a lot more interest in it than there was back in it’s heyday. Though many of them I would call false prophets and are only using the genre to try and sell more records. The newer bands and artists such as Frost* and even Steve Wilson like to think they are prog but are quite a margin away in my opinion. Then you have bands like Wobbler who craft their music by using all the old instruments that was used in 70’s prog to try and get their music more closer to 70’s progrock. To be honest out of the many bands who have tried this and still can try and find some originality of their own. I would personally say that they are without a doubt one of the best newer prog bands out there today.

      Gentle Giant’s career was over by the 80’s and they did actually change their style from 1977 – 1980 and their final 3 albums they had ago at trying to be more commercial to which they failed miserably and there last 3 albums were not that good at all and certainly way different to what they were doing before 1977. Van der Graaf Generator I could not tell you about because I found that band totally boring and more avant garde than progrock. Both me and my mate many years ago tired to get into them when we got a good few of their albums from the music library back in the late 70’s. We both never ended up buying any and could not understand what all the fuss was about to be honest.

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  2. Pingback: Lee Speaks About Music…#217 | Lee Speaks About…

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