"The Ghosts Of Albums Past" - Steve Hackett in concert at the Fairfield Halls Croydon 29th October 2003. Review by Bob Barnett.

I arrived at the venue at approximately 7:15 in time to meet up with an old buddy and his good lady and have a quick pint before the show and watch Alan beavering away on the merchandise stall. 7:50 we filed into the auditorium which to my surprise had a huge curtain sectioning off the rear of the hall, obviously not a sell-out which I thought rather sad. 8:00 the house lights go down and the band come on stage…

Mechanical Bride
The show opens with this number, strobe lights flashing and all; a fine example of virtuoso playing. I wasn't sure about the track when I first heard it but it is definitely growing on me.

Serpentine Song
I like this one, a great vocal performance.

Watcher Of The Skies
The abridged instrumental version this; excellent keyboard intro from Roger King.

Hairless Heart
A fair rendition of this beautiful old classic, played maybe a fraction too slow for my liking and a bit stiff in the drum department.

A flawless performance, complete with green lights and deep voice effect, very "dark" indeed!

Camino Royale
Great performance, especially the instrumental, mid-section, complete with strange "yeah ,yeah" guitar effect.

Pollution B/The Steppes
Possibly the best version of this that I have ever heard, with roaring bass pedals; a great bass performance by Terry Gregory.

Acoustic Set
Including Classical Gas, Black Light and Horizons among others; quite mesmerising watching Steve perform on acoustic guitar - excellent!

This was a nice surprise, Steve was joined on stage by Roger King and his brother John Hackett for this beautiful piece - I loved it!

Walking Away From Rainbows
A nice performance, Steve playing it on acoustic as opposed to electric as per the Somewhere In South America DVD, although I found it very difficult to keep track of the theme during Rob Townsend's sax performance, but that is no reflection on his playing, because he sounded great!

There now followed a brief intermission for the purpose of bladder emptying and lager and nicotine replenishment. It was during this period that I overheard a couple of comments that REALLY irritated me. The first was from some guy who said that he refused to applaud the opening track on the principle that he disliked it so much; what an areshole attitude!
And then I bumped into a workmate who said he won't be coming to see Steve again as he thought it was all crap; apart from the acoustic stuff. Mmm? Well…I walked away from him in the rudest way I could; I wasn't going to entertain discussion like that and I wasn't going to let him put a dampener on my evening. Anyway, my apologies, I digress…back to the show.

The band opened the second half with a vengeance; Slogans note perfect: "Beware the flying…" (Some reference to Roger King but I couldn't quite make it out)
(The reference is actually: "Beware the Mighty Kingatron", Rob - AH) excellent, a real show stopper, quite possibly the highlight of the evening.

Please Don't Touch
Another perfect performance.

Firth Of Fifth
A faithful rendition of Steve's signature theme, although I don't really like hearing this detached from its mother track.

The Wall Of Knives/A Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite
I feel that the Wall Of Knives intro is a bit over the top but Vampyre… is performed well, very loudly I might add; featured within the individual solo fills is what sounded to me like the theme to Roobarb & Custard (an old UK children's cartoon series).

Spectral Mornings
Never one of my favourites from the Spectral.. album, but it really came over well this time - very powerful!

Brand New
The only track that I hadn't heard before (I haven't heard the new album yet, I know… shame on me but I shall be remedying that very soon) actually I quite liked this one again; excellent vocals.

Los Endos
Standard performance as per SISA DVD; didn't come over as powerful as I might have hoped. Clocks the band return for the encore, Clocks is quite brilliant; another highlight of the evening. In That Quiet Earth I am not a great lover of Steve's version of this track, but is performed well!

And that was that; the show was over. We waited abut at the end in the hope that Steve and the band might make an appearance but sadly; not. Steve did mention during the show that it was a bit of a family outing with his mum, dad; wife and brother all attending so I guess there was a big family gathering after the show.
So, on reflection, it was a great evening; a blistering performance put on by Steve and his excellent band; I also got to meet up with my old friend "Rael Thing" again. I also got to meet up with Alan at last (albeit briefly ,I even managed to provide him with a shoulder to cry on ;this was his last show with Steve and Co), I guess all good things must come to an end eventually. Finally, a big THANK YOU to Steve and his team for putting on this UK tour and for bringing great delight to a great many fans, just don’t leave it too long before you come back!

Click to enlarge
Ticket: S Barnes/TWR