Hackett, Steve: Wuthering Nights: Live in Birmingham (2 CD/Blu-ray)
Can you believe how fast time flies? It has already been over forty years since Genesis released the amazing Wind & Wuthering album, the first without the vocals of Peter Gabriel and the last to feature iconic guitarist Steve Hackett. These past few years Hackett has been very busy indeed, touring the world with his Genesis Revisited tours as well as continuing to put out quality studio efforts, his latest being The Night Siren. To celebrate his last effort and recognize the fortieth anniversary of Wind & Wuthering I present you Hackett's latest album Wuthering Nights: Live in Birmingham, filmed in 2017 at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, part of his Genesis Revisited & Classic Hackett tour.
As usual his touring band is fantastic and includes:
Steve Hackett (guitar, vocals)
Roger King (keyboards)
Nad Sylvan (vocals, tambourine)
Gary O'Toole (drum, percussion, vocals)
Rob Townsend (saxophone, woodwind, percussion, vocals, keyboards, bass pedals)
Nick Beggs (bass, variax, twelve string, vocals)
With special guests:
John Hackett (flute)
Amanda Lehmann (guitar, vocals)
This edition includes two CDs and a concert Blu-ray and the production quality looks and sounds amazing. The first half of the show focuses on tracks spread throughout Hackett's considerable solo career and offers highlight after highlight. It is also nice to see a few tunes selected from his last studio album, proving the man is as relevant today as he ever was. The concert kicks off with "Every Day" taken from his classic album Spectral Mornings. Everything sounds great from the vocal harmonies to Hackett's fabulously soaring solo, a defining moment for the man and his guitar. The symphonic and classically inspired "El Niño", taken from his latest disc is another great entry. King's huge keyboard orchestrations and O'Toole's great drumming are highlights. Topping it off is Hackett's rapid fire fretwork and slow and ethereal sustain. The exotic Eastern sounds of "The Steppes", the dark and moody "In the Skeleton Gallery" featuring wonderful vocals and Townsend's impressive sax and flute, the heavy and emotive "Behind the Smoke", a very personal song, and the stunning epic "Shadow of the Hierophant" featuring the vocals of Amanda Lehmann are more highlights. Through many twists and turns and soaring crescendos, "Hierophant" sounds as great today as it did back in 1975. The last tune of the first disc is the classic Wind & Wuthering track "Eleventh Earl of Mar" featuring an outstanding vocal performance from Sylvan.
The second disc begins with "One for the Vine", "Blood on the Rooftops", "In That Quiet Earth" and "Afterglow", all wonderful renditions from the Wind & Wuthering album. I have read some negative comments regarding the vocals of Sylvan. I'm not sure what the complaining is about as I think he does a wonderful job here, keeping the original vocals in mind while adding his own inflections. His voice certainly has characteristics of both Collins and Gabriel. "One for the Vine" has always been one of Genesis' prettiest tracks and that doesn't change here as Hackett and King lay down some great melodies. "Blood on the Rooftops" is a showcase for Hackett's tantalizing acoustic guitar and the intensity of "In That Quiet Earth" captures this band at their best, and those vocals on "Afterglow", well, just give it a listen and decide for yourself. Then it's on to "Dance on a Volcano" and those classic symphonic builds laced with power, followed by "Inside and Out", perhaps the biggest surprise here. Leftover from the Wind & Wuthering sessions, it was decided to leave the track off that album but was released the following year on the Spot The Pigeon EP. It's a really beautiful track with excellent vocals and keyboard work. Another highlight has to include the stunning "Firth of Fifth", taken from Selling England By The Pound, capturing both the tranquil and the intensity this band is capable of. The huge crescendos and Hackett's soaring guitar are more spine tingling moments to be sure. Every band member shines, but really, the entire album showcases just how great a band Hackett has assembled. For the final two tracks you get the heavy prog outbursts in "The Musical Box" and the prog rock workout of "Los Endos".
The concert Blu-ray looks absolutely amazing. The production and visual clarity is as professional as anyone should hope for and the filming is very good. As you would expect Hackett is the focus but all band members are touched upon as no one goes unnoticed. Besides the concert you also get an informative documentary so there is lots of bang for your buck.
Yes there has been no shortage of Hackett concert DVDs for progressive rock fans to savour so whether you get this or not I suppose will depend on how many concerts you need. For me, I cannot imagine any Hackett fan not wanting this. I just wish more of my favourite artists could be as prolific.
Another highly recommended release from Inside Out Music.
1. Every Day
2. El Niño
3. The Steppes
4. In the Skeleton Gallery
5. Behind the Smoke
6. Serpentine Song
7. Rise Again
8. Shadow of the Hierophant
9. Eleventh Earl of Mar
1. One for the Vine
2. Acoustic Improvisation
3. Blood on the Rooftops
4. In That Quiet Earth
6. Dance on a Volcano
7. Inside and Out
8. Firth of Fifth
9. The Musical Box
10. Los Endos
• Wuthering Nights, Live in Birmingham – Behind the Scenes Documentary
• Video clips:
Behind the Smoke
Fifty Miles from the North Pole
West to East
Added: March 26th 2018
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
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