"Spectral in Cesena" - Steve Hackett Live at Castello Malatestiano di Cesena, July 11, 2000. Review by Roger Salem.

Basically, this was a smaller concert in terms of attendance - about 250 people. It was fundamentally the same set as in Vivegano [see Roger's other review in TWR #41 - TB.] but with an extra encore, "Horizons". Globally a much more intimate concert with a better PA system and, oh I almost forgot - not a single mosquito in sight on this night! At Vivegano it was Vampires' night out... At the end of the evening my friend's face looked like the Slipperman costume from "The Lamb" show!! I was scratching my bites for days after too!

A few technical problems like at most concerts, but on the whole, great sound engineering and a band which already was less tense but just as disciplined as during the first night. They played at a lower volume to the point that earplugs were hardly necessary. Earplugs? Drugs? Who on earth would use them for a Steve Hackett concert? The music is our drug! The courtyard of the castle was even more beautiful than the one in Vivegano, with spotlights illuminating the ancient walls, giving this very marked "Spectral" atmosphere to the concert.

In Cesena, the band spent more time at the sound check. Most of the afternoon in fact. As a result the fruits of their hard labour was felt. Again, the same emotion on "The Steppes" (next time I will take some valium to calm me down!). I felt like a teenager. It was like being in a time-warp; being brought back to those early Hackett shows of 1979/80 which I was lucky to see. Steve is still so very much the central figure, that the absence of a Nick Magnus or John Shearer was hardly felt.

This was not the opinion of some of my friends who were far more critical about the band than I was. Some fans were also disappointed by the absence of material from "Spectral Mornings". On both nights I heard the occasional hecklers shouting out for "Everyday" or "Spectral Mornings" to be played. I agree on that point, this album is far too important in Steve's discography to be completely left out. I also regretted not hearing "Twice Around The Sun" which, to me, is the best track on "Darktown".

I would like to close this review by thanking Billy Budis for the effort and energy he has expended into getting this "experimental tour" on the road, and although at most moments I saw him on these two nights in a "highly strung" hardly relaxed and visibly discontented; I would like him to know that he cannot begin to measure the level of enjoyment that the whole project which he has orchestrated; brought to Steve's most loving fans in the most loveable of countries: Italy! Grazie, Steve; Billy ed amici Italiani. I hope this tour will be the start of a future world tour. Spread the Gospel - "Twice Around the Sun!".

A good set list is worth repeating, so here it is, once again: Mechanical Bride / Serpentine / Watcher Of The Skies / Hairless Heart / Firth Of Fifth / Riding The Colossus / The Steppes / Walking Away From Rainbows / Sierra Quemada / A Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite /Gnossienne No1 / A Tower Struck Down / Darktown / Camino Royale / In Memoriam

Encores: Los Endos / Horizons