"Treading The Boards at The Boardwalk" - The John Hackett Band in concert at The Boardwalk Sheffield on Saturday 20th May 2006. Reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
I for one was both surprised and delighted when John released Checking Out Of London last year. Surprised because I had become used to his appearances with older brother Steve, and delighted because the album was a bloody excellent one too! John being the modest person that he is (too modest in my opinion) it is high time that fans had the chance to discover the not so surprising fact that the younger Hackett is ever bit as talented as his older brother and these gigs were the opportunity for that talent to shine.
Psi Phi opened the evening's proceedings with a very enjoyable set of their own music which covered a wide range of styles. It made a refreshing change to see an opening act that actually drew your attention and they deserved their applause from the enthusiastic crowd.
John's band opened their set with Ace Of Wands; always a classic and a brilliant opener with everyone obviously enjoying this classic slice of Hackett. A hefty proportion of the show was dedicated to material from John's first rock album: Checking Out Of London and tracks such as Late Trains, Fantasy and DNA were every bit as good live as they had been on the album. Backed by a superb band of musicians including three fifths of ReGenesis as well as his old compatriot from Steve's band Nick Magnus on keyboards, the band shone like polished diamonds and perhaps the biggest gem was John's voice - his doubts before the gig must surely have been dispensed with by the end, and the harmonies that he wove with Tony Patterson on Fantasy and DNA in particular were delightful to hear.
Other highlights from the set included the wonderful instrumental Double Helix from Nick Magnus's Hexameron album and a truly marvellous rendering of Winter. Steve Hackett's appearance as guest for the final trio of songs; Hands Of The Priestess, A Tower Struck Down and Ego And Id were as well received as you would expect from the enthusiastic audience and both brothers were genuinely enjoying themselves and basking in the affection of the crowd. One amusing incident merits reporting; at one point yours truly is sure that he spotted Mr S Hackett indulging in his very own spot of bootlegging but I won't tell the management if you don't - D'OH!
The band returned for the obligatory encore; the appropriately titled More
leaving the crowd shouting for exactly that. On this showing, I am sure that
we can expect more gigs from the John Hackett band. With work already under
way on a new album; the future looks bright for the other member of the incredibly
talented Hackett clan!