Record of the Day: Steve Hackett, "Live Archive NearFest"

Record of the Day: Steve Hackett, “Live Archive NearFest”

Steve Hackett
Live Archive NearFest (Cd Camino CAMCD 32)

When Steve Hackett left Genesis, immediately after the release of the live album “Seconds Out”, he issued fiery statements against his former colleagues, announcing that he would radically depart from what he considered to be a stale and predictable musical discourse. In reality, the guitarist continued to remain firmly within progressive rock throughout his career; records like “Please Don't Touch” and “Spectral Mornings”, while excellent, lacked ingredients
particularly different from the musical experience of Genesis; long pieces often divided into several movements, great dynamic excursions with a classical flavour, delicate watercolor atmospheres which gave Hackett the opportunity to show off his technical mastery on the acoustic guitar.

Subsequent works such as “Till We Have Faces” and “Cured” played with electronics and world music without too much conviction, and in more recent works such as “To Watch the Storms” and “Guitar Noir” Hackett seems to have returned to water to the same Salmacis fountain discovered together with Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins in 1972 with “Nursery Crime”.

Hackett is an intelligent and tasteful musician, technically impeccable and with good writing skills (even if his passion for nineteenth-century English symphonists pushed him to mediocre and needlessly pompous orchestral records such as A “Midsummer Night's Dream” and “Metamorpheus “); the size of the concert is certainly the most suitable to demonstrate his qualities and recently the guitarist has placed on the market numerous testimonies of his skill live, both acoustic and electric.

This 2002 “Live NearFest”, recorded in New Jersey, draws on the extensive catalog of previous albums, including famous Genesis works such as “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”. All in all, reconciling oneself with one's musical past
it benefited Hackett, who dusts off “Firth of Fifth” and “Los Endos” with renewed enthusiasm and unchanged skill.

There is no shortage of homages to Satie (“Gnossienne N°1”) and pieces such as “Vampire with a Healthy Appetite” and “Mechanical Bride”, which ironically pay homage to the taste for the gothic atmospheres typical of the progressive genre. The excellent musicians of his band (in particular Roger King on keyboards) seem to be having as much fun as the leader and provide a performance full of energy and compactness.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.