“A Change In Momentum” - Steve Hackett in concert at the Opera House, Manchester on Sunday 1st May 1988. Review and photographs by Ted Sayers.

Dry ice, smoke bombs, vari-lites, lasers, Boeing 707 landing lights… well not exactly! You see Steve Hackett doesn’t need them anymore. He’s going for the simple approach; just a stage lit by white lights and his only concession to techno flash is the guitar neck backdrop that GTR used. The REAL technology is in the music this time round. All the whiz bang stuff just doesn’t go with the guitar, the chair (… and the bed?!).

Steve is back as a solo artist. After the long lay off since Till We Have Faces, he’s back on his own, well that’s not strictly true, he has brought brother John along on flute. In a way I am glad to see it like that. Of course, he has dabbled with GTR in the meantime but Steve by himself is always something special.

This tour is almost completely acoustic guitar and flute. Some poor publicity has not billed it as such, something Steve was not happy with.

From the moment Steve stepped on stage , the audience were with him. He kicked off with a medley of old tunes including Blood On The Rooftops which culminated in the evergreen Horizons. Steve played selections from both of his acoustic albums; Bay Of Kings and Momentum and interspersed these with four or five as yet unrecorded pieces and one or two single B sides. This latter case provided two of my favourite moments in the proceedings when he played Time-Lapse At Milton Keynes, (the B side of Cell 151), and the excellent Tales Of The Riverbank (from the B side of Hope I Don’t Wake). The latter piece was played “for animal lovers and , of course we all remember Johnny Morris, Hammy The Hamster, G.P the Guinea Pig et al).

John popped on stage occasionally to add his flautist talents here and there with two of the best tracks from Momentum - Cavalcanti and Concert For Munich . He also played acoustic versions of a few of his own old tracks from Voyage Of The Acolyte including Hands Of The Priestess and Ace Of Wands as opposed to the Genesis material.

Then he stepped offstage and returned within seconds after his roadie had replaced his acoustic guitar with an electric one and a strange looking guitar synthesiser for a change in momentum. He launched into a pulsing piece of electric guitar wizardry which used both instruments.

And then it was all over bar the encore which was a return to the acoustic guitar. Steve has always used the acoustic guitar, but it is only recently that he has begin to explore its versatility. Both acoustic albums show just how well he has adapted to it, making himself master of both the electric and acoustic.

The nice guy footnote: Steve patiently signed hundreds of autographs and answered many more questions in the foyer after the show. This is something very few musicians do today and just goes to show his superb attitude - thanks, Steve.

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