“Gone fishing” - Steve Hackett in concert at The Grand Theatre, Clapham, London on Tuesday 8th June 1993. Review by the “legendary” J.R. Hartley. Photos by Jonathan Dann and Richard Mills. Memorabilia: TWR archive.

They say that fishing is a good way of relieving the stress and tension that builds up in everyday life, but despite my name ( yes folks, he really IS J R Hartley!) the appeal of this pastime eludes me. There are better ways (some obviously unprintable in a family magazine like TWR). The following is definitely the best.

I was feeling distinctly stressed when with my friend Phil Eames, we spent hours travelling in a taxi from Croydon to Clapham (“just down the road, Guv”) only to find that the taxi driver had no idea as to the location of The Grand (“got to be here somewhere, sir”). We arrived in time to meet the famous Scouser Alan Hewitt (who? - JD) and to have the odd stress reducer at the bar before the real escapism began.

Steve and his new band (and what a band!) kicked off with a medley of stuff from the past - bits of Los Endos, Ace Of Wands, Hackett To Pieces etc, which sounded incredible and reduced the stress to 9/10. Camino Royale followed after which most of Guitar Noir with some exceptional exceptions e.g. a heavy version of Every Day. My stress levels were now below 50% and I still hadn’t had to answer the call of nature (pay attention to my flies - sorry, but my name leads me like this!). In That Quiet Earth was another highlight for me but then came what I still regard as the finest guitar instrumental of all time - Spectral Mornings. So lost was I that it took me a few seconds to realise that Steve had slipped into the guitar solo from Firth Of Fifth - stress levels down to zero! All that was missing was Narnia, Racing In A and why not the whole of Blood On The Rooftops?

After the encores, I was wandering around in front of the stage in a daze of stresslessness (if that word exists?) when a charming lady asked if I had enjoyed the show as she had been watching me from balcony and could see that I knew all the lyrics. It turned out that this was Steve’s mum (hello, Mrs H!). To finally lodge this song in my memory as the most enjoyable concert ever, a few minutes later when Phil and myself came face to face with the man himself! After an hour of fun with Steve and his family (mum, dad, brother; Kim) and the band, it was time for this very unstressed fan to retire to bed and fall asleep to dream …. No more hills to climb it seems (only interrupted by the call of nature - long overdue; this at last sent me fly fishing as I couldn’t find the toilet light switch!).

Cheers! John R Hartley

P.S. Steve “We’re all going on a summer holiday!” - remember?!

Trivia Moment: For our overseas readers or those of you with short memories, there was a television advertisement for the “Yellow Pages” telephone directory in the 1990’s featuring an eccentric character whose name was “ J R Hartley”. Whether this is the same person is a matter for some conjecture!