“A night with the small orchestra” – Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio and guests at Trading Boundaries on Sunday 10th December 2017. Review and Photographs by John Curlewis.
On a cold and blustery winter’s evening, Steve Hackett and his band played an acoistic set at Tradin Boundaries music venue in East Sussex. Situated in a Gerogian manor house in the heart of the Sussex countryside, Trading Boundaries is a retail destination, café, music venue and gallery. It specialises in importing Asian furniture, artefacts and textiles. The café transforms at night into a boutique, candlelit venue hosting artists such as Steve Hackett, Rick Wakeman and Focus and was voted one of the top three venues in the UK by Prog Magazine in 2016. The gallery offering a permanent display of Roger Dean’s work.
This was my second visit in a week to this venue having seen Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy play there the week before. Both times I was blown away by the intimacy of the venue, the friendliness of the staff and the sound system, which on first appearance for such a small venue should not be half as good as it is, but packing power and clarity delivered a performance to rival many of the larger, but less friendly, venues.
|So, to the music of Steve Hackett. This was the second of two nights that Steve and his band were performing at Trading Boundaries . Steve was introduced and walked on stage at 9.00 pm. Taking the microphone he started by telling us that on the previous evening his mother had given an impromptu talk to the audience which had included details of every illness and ailment Steve had been through since the age of three. Apparently this went down well with the audience that evening (I am sure it did if I know June - AH) but I am not sure whether Steve will be so quick to invite his mother on to the stage next time (try stopping her- AH) .|
Steve started the set playing solo, a medley of songs which included at one point a few chords from Selling England By The Pound. My daughter who is keen to take up playing the guitar and to listen to Steve playing so effortlessly really does take your breath away, and perhaps one day she might be able to emulate his style and performance.
Steve then introduced the other members of the band, being his bnrother John Hackett on flute, Roger King on keyboards, Rob Townsend on saxophone (and penny whistle) and later in the second set Amanda Lehmann on guitar and vocals.
They opened with Jacuzzi, a beautiful song that I have not heard too many times before, its mesmerising chords taking you on the start of a journey. Next up, my all time favoirite Genesis track: Supper’s Ready , which played acoustically gives it an almost haunting sound. John;s flute being the main contributor. As a (wannabe) keyboardist myself, I always pay particular attention to the keyboards in every piece of music and Roger’s skilful fingers seemed to hover effortlessly over the keys, giving the piece even more intensity and vibrancy.
The band then slipped straight into a medley of After The Ordeal and Hairless Heart before ending this particular medley of songs with a piano/guitar improvisation in D minor. Each band member allowed to express themselves in their own unique way. It is very apparent that the band has fun playing improvisations and this shows in the way each member interacts with the others and the piece simply flowing.
Rob Townsend then played a solo for the first time - Jazz On A Summer’s Night which given the cold weather outside seemed an odd choice, but as his saxophone purred its way through the piece, I was mesmerised by the uplifting and warm feeling of the music and I started to drift away in to more warmer memories. Saxophone in any acoustic set always raises the hairs on the back of my neck with its haunting and yet powerful melodies. This was a great piece and well chosen for the evening.
The final piece of the first set was House Of The Faun another which I am not too familiar with but it s soulful chords left you knowing that the second set would be equally as good.
The band took a half hour break and he audience were encouraged to go and meet Riger Dean the artist who had painted the covers for many bands including Yes and Asia. His work was exhibited at the venue and the Sunday evening was the last chance to meet him and purchase his work although I have no idea where I would locate suich a sizeable piece of art in my small house, but it would look very impressive gracing anyone’s living room or bedroom.
The second set pene with the same band members as before, Amanda Lehman would be introduced towards the end of the set. They started with Imagining-Second Chance before rolling seamlessly into Walking Away From Rainbows. They then played another improvised piece which gave each band memner a chance to shine. Each instrument flowing with the next, all pulled together by Steve’s soulful guitar. This then rolled straight into The Red Flower Of Taichi Blooms Everywhere and Hands Of The Priestess, two wonderful pieces and I found myself starting to sway to the melodies, taking me back to a more innocent time of my life.
Then one of my all-time favourite Steve Hackett songs from his first solo album: Voyage Of The Acolyte: Ace Of Wands . This song has so much feeling that I was fully transported back to 1975 as a very young eight year old , the innocence of growing up, not having a care in the world and the start of my progressive rock adventures. At the end the audience went wild with applause, clearly I am not alone in liking this song. Note to myself - I really must get a vinyl copy of this album!
Steve then introduced Amanda Lehman to the stage who would play guitar and sing on the next two songs. She started by explaining that the first song was written by her and is about her dear late mother who suffered from dementia and the pain and anxiety (and confusion) that this illness brings to not only the suffere but the whole family. Memory Lane was beautiful, the words so carefully chosen, that it had the effect of making me think deeply about my own family problems, and when a piece hits you in this way, it touches the heart so lovingly that you cannot help but shed a small tear inside. Thank you, Amanda, this song moved me deeply and I am grateful that you shared it with us.
The final song of the second set was Loving Sea and Steve encouraged the audience to sing along. Steve and Amanda’s vocals complimented each other and it was certainly a nice way to end the set. With a wave to the audience, the band exited stage left, well to the rear really, but we won’t argue over such trivial matters.
The audience whopped, stamped their feet, clapping in time and crying for more. The band returned this time minus Amanda and played one final piece: Bacchus with a bit of Firth Of Fifth thrown in. Certaionly an encore to leave the audience more than satisfied. Leaving the venue at 11.20 pm the thought of a half hour journey home was made all the more bearable by listening to the full album of Voyage Of The Acolyte in my car and as a result my journey home was certainly made a lot more enjoyable.
Thank you to Steve, John, Roger, Rob and Amanda for a most wonderful evening of acoustic music, a very moving evening of music made especial;ly memorable for me by meeting Jo (Steve’s wife) in person and having a small chat with her. Thanks also to Roger King for providing me with a copy of the set list, very much appreciated as I have the memory of a goldfish! And finally thank you to Trading Boundaries for hosting such a wonderful evening. Now I mist go and check out their website for the next great gig to be played thre and make sure I book dining next time as the food looked gorgeous! See you all soon - John Curlewis (wannabe keyboardist)
And thank you, John for sharing those memories and photos with us here at TWR.