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Hackett, Steve: Once Above a Time (DVD)

Tired of reaching for The Eagles Hell Freezes Over DVD when you want to show off your surround sound system? Well, then cue up the DTS track of Steve Hackett's new audiophile quality concert and amaze all your friends. The former Genesis guitarist has issued a number of concert videos in recent years, but Once Above a Time may be the best of the bunch.

Mr. Hackett once again surrounds himself with Class A musicians, all of whom perfectly compliment his trademark thick sustain guitar tone. The setlist is outstanding and draws from nearly every epoch of Hackett's career. Some songs are even enhanced with very interesting new arrangements. As well, many cuts from To Watch the Storms work much better in a live environment, including a gorgeous take of "Serpentine Song" and an extended "Brand New". Keyboardist Roger King and wind player Rob Townsend really come to the fore throughout the performance and have become an integral component of the Hackett band sound.

And what Steve Hackett gig would be complete without at least a nod to Genesis? We are treated to the instrumental section of "Firth of Fifth", a tasty symphonic "Fly on the Windshield" and best of all a complete rendition of "Blood on the Rooftops" with vocals courtesy of drummer Gary O'Toole.

Of course, the focus is mainly on Hackett's prolific solo back catalog and aside from standards like "Everyday", "Ace of Wands" and "Please Don't Touch", we are also treated to less celebrated numbers like "Slogans", "Hammer in the Sand" and "If You Can't Find Heaven".

Recorded at Petofi Csarnok in Budapest (yes, the exact same venue for the earlier Hungarian Horizons DVD) in front of an alarmingly sedate audience, the camerawork is excellent and nearly a match for the opulent sound quality. Three audio options are given and though the standard stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are excellent, the DTS track leaves them both in the dust. Extra features are limited to a short "Backstage in Budapest" documentary, but who needs bells and whistles when the main program is this good? If you are overwhelmed by the spate of Steve Hackett DVDs that are out there, start here.

Program Contents

Concert Track Listing

  1. Valley of the Kings
  2. Mechanical Bride
  3. Circus of Becoming
  4. Frozen Statues
  5. Slogans
  6. Serpentine Song
  7. Ace of Wands
  8. Hammer in the Sand
  9. Blood on the Rooftops
  10. Fly on a Windshield
  11. Please Don't Touch
  12. Firth of Fifth
  13. If You Can't Find Heaven
  14. Darktown
  15. Brand New
  16. Air-Conditioned Nightmare
  17. Every Day
  18. Clocks
  19. Spectral Mornings
  20. Los Endos

Backstage in Budapest Bonus Feature

Added: May 2nd 2005
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: Official Steve Hackett Home Page
Hits: 4984
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Hackett, Steve: Once Above a Time (DVD)
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-05-02 21:21:57
My Score:

I met Steve Hackett once. Well, "met" probably isn't the most accurate word. He signed my copy of Genesis' Archive: 1969-75 box set at a Borders in Milwaukee after performing a short but enthralling solo acoustic set to promote 2003's To Watch The Storms. That was a far cry from this show, recorded with Hackett's crack four-piece band in Budapest in April 2004, complete with four vocalists and a dramatic light show. Once Above A Time oozes with class, from the straight-laced Hackett (who, dressed tastefully all in black and looking fit and healthy, lets his guitar do most of the talking) to the multi-instrumental talents of Rob Townsend (whose dexterity on flute, sax and various percussion match Hackett's on guitar) to the set list (which ranges from early Genesis all the way to To Watch The Storms. "Brand New," especially, sounds WAAAY better than the studio version -- even though Hackett recorded To Watch The Storms with the same musicians. This band can harmonize beyond belief. Elsewhere, Gary O'Toole's drums sound huge, and he performs with the charisma of Nick D'Virgilio and Hackett''s old bandmate Phil Collins. Close-up shots show Hackett effortlessly but lovingly massaging his instrument's strings and pay plenty of respect to the other players, too. Camera pans of the staid but appreciative audience -- who gives sustained applause after several songs -- also reveal something you don't typically see on DVDs of progressive-music gigs: lots of women!

Now, where is the CD version of this show?

Hackett, Steve: Once Above a Time (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-25 21:58:46
My Score:

Prog rock DVD's don't get much better than Once Above a Time from Steve Hackett, recorded in April of 2004 in Budapest. Eagle Rock Entertainment have put together a nice overall package here-a 90+ minute concert, beautifully filmed, as well as a fun behind-the scenes featurette, and a nifty little color booklet jammed with photos. Hackett and his band, Roger King on keyboards, Rob Townsend on sax & flute, Terry Gregory on bass, and Gary O'Toole on drums, all put in sensational performances on the sets 20 songs, which include staples from throughout Hackett's illustrious career.

The guitarist's soaring Gibson Les Paul is all over cuts like "Valley of the Kings", "Mechanical Bride", "Ace of Wands", and "Every Day". Fans of Genesis will be happy to note that he pulls out "Fly On a Windshield", "Blood on the Rooftops", the solo section of the classic "Firth of Fifth" and of course the climactic "Los Endos". His tone has gotten sweeter over the years, his chops more impressive, his volume cranked up, and the joy that he and his band get from playing this music is very evident throughout, as they seem to be having a blast on stage.

There are a few Steve Hackett DVD's on the market, but this is arguably the best thanks to the high quality of the video and audio, and the stellar renditions of these classic songs. Highly recommended!

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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