Steve Hackett Live at “The Night of The Prog Festival IV” Loreley, Germany – 10/11 July 2009 - Gig report by Paul Gibbon.

This was my second European adventure in 2009 to see Hackett live. A few of us flew to Rome to see the gig at the Stazione Birra in March. It was a great gig and Steve aired a couple of unreleased tracks; being “Fire On The Moon” and “Storm Chaser”. An interesting venue, and Mr Hewitt and I shared a few pints of “Hell”…

So next up was Loreley… I had a DVD from Marillion recorded in July 1987 at Loreley, and it certainly looked like a great venue. I was later to learn that Genesis had played at this venue in 1976 and Hackett had also taken his acoustic trio to the festival in 2005.

Whilst I had heard of some of the bands on the Programme festival, I was not familiar with a lot of their music. So, I was looking forward to a couple of days of progressive rock.

The journey out was pretty straight forward. Good old Ryanair from London Stansted to Frankfurt and then a 30 minute taxi ride to St Goar. A trip on the ferry to the otherside of the Rhien and we were in our hotel, which was about a twenty minute walk from the festival. Thursday was a day checking out the local bars and restaurants.

Friday 10th July

I feel ashamed that I did not get myself acquainted with the other acts on the bill beforehand. Throughout the festival the level of musicianship was absolutely brilliant, and hats off to all who played at the event. We kicked off with Also Eden, who were excellent and they offered some pretty solid melodic tunes.

They were followed by Arena, who I had come across before. I had “Songs From The Lions Cage”, which was released in 1995. The band featured Mick Pointer (ex-Marillion), Clive Nolan (Pendragon) and vocals by a chap called Rob Sowden. I recognised a few tracks and again they were tight and delivered a good set. They played a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, which woke the crowd up…. I never thought that I would hear a progressive rock version of that song. It was fantastic that a band like Arena felt strong enough by his death to pay tribute to a great artist.

The guitarist is a chap called John Mitchell, and he works with about several bands and these include….It Bites, Kino, Frost*, Icon (Wetton/Downes), The Urbane etc. Their set really showed what a superb guitar player he was, and he made a lot of the songs shine. It would suggest that it is tough to make a living from just one musical outlet these days, as Clive Nolan later performed with Pendragon. Even, Clive Pointer has revisited the one Marillion album that he appeared on as the closing event of this festival. Even the bass player Ian Salmon (Arena) played on the Script For A Jester Tear set.

Agents of Mercy was a new solo led project from Roine Stolt (Flower Kings), and this was the first time that the band had played live. All OK, but I cannot remember the name of the songs. The lead singer was called Nad Sylvan from a band called Unifaun. A very strange fellow. Their final song was special. The second cover version of the day at the festival. One of Tony Banks greatest moments, the lovely “Afterglow” from Wind & Wuthering. It went down really well.

Riverside (Polish band)/Gazpacho (Norwegian band) finished off the first night. Riverside were very good, but by the time we got to Gazpacho…. I was getting a little prog rocked out and it was also getting cold… so off we went back to the hotel!!!!

Saturday 11th July

Day 3 - I did feel rough a little rough from a couple of days of too much lager. However, today was Hackett set. Flights back to Blighty were first thing Sunday Morning.

Six bands to go and I knew a lot more about what was coming our way today, with Mr. Hackett, Marillion’s – A Script for A Jester’s Tear and Pendragon. I found a beer in my hand at 11am, and thought here we go again.

I missed half of Subsignal, as we had taxi issues. What I did hear of them sounded good. Pineapple Thief were also pretty slick and song/guitar driven. Their frontman Bruse Soord was an excellent guitarist and was enjoying the day.

Lazuli were a French prog band, and some pretty strange looking characters. You would not want to meet any of these guys on a dark night, but boy could they play. You had half a percussion kit on stage, chapman sticks, 2 guitarists and they made some great sounds… The vocals were all in French, but that didn’t matter as the music rocked. At one point they included a bit of Depeche Mode… “I Just Can’t Get Enough” on one of their instrumental passages.

Pure Reason Resolution pulled out as a band member was sick. Next on was Pendragon, which is basically Clive Nolan’s other band with Nick Barrett. Great music, but don’t ask me about the individual tracks. Earlier this year, they won best album at the Classic Rock Society Awards. Steve Hackett presented the award to Nick Barratt, who was a little nervous and a bit jittery and accidentally shut Steve’s finger in the box the award came in…which leads us to the next artist on the programme.


Set List (Approx 2 hours)

Mechanical Bride
Every Day
Fire on The Moon
Ace of Wands
Pollution B
The Steppes
Serpentine Song
Firth of Fifth
Acoustic Set; Walking Away From Rainbows
Blood On The Rooftops
Spectral Mornings
The Wall of Knives
Fly on A Windshield
Broadway Melody of 1974
Please Don’t Touch
A Tower Struck Down
In That Quiet Earth
Myopia/Los Endos

Line Up; Hackett / Roger King – Keys / GaryO’Toole – Drums / Nick Beggs – Bass & Rob Towsend – Wind Instruments

I have seen Steve many times, and there were some great moments during the show. Being that it is a festival, the band did not get the opportunity to sound check and this was evident as soon as they burst into “Mechanical Bride”. Steve’s guitar monitor and microphone were not working properly and a few minutes were spent with Steve’s poor roadie Richard Buckland, fiddling around trying to get everything sorted… It was a good job that the leather kilted Beggs and the rest of the band did not have any problems as they just got on with it…..

Everyday was well performed despite some glitches, as the harmony vocals were not quite all in sync. The special guitar solo towards the end of the song, was not as powerful as some other live versions. I think this was because the technical problems had left a sour taste in Steve’s mouth. However, it was pretty much business as usual after this… The new track; “Fire On The Moon” was sung well by Steve and the “WAR” element made a few people quake…

Now we were in to the staple live element of Steve’s show, going back to 1975 with “Ace of Wands” from Voyage of The Acolyte. Wonderfully performed, and then followed by two further instrumentals from Defector. The Steppes and Slogans.
Of course we had the mighty kingathron during Slogans… It amazes me that Youtube has recordings of these on-line already and some Genesis web sites already have the audience recordings of the entire gig. I am writing this article, two days after the gig. The world seems to be getting smaller!!!

“Serpentine Song” was the next number and was the second tune form “To Watch The Storms”. Rob Townsends contribution to this track makes it shine. Personally, I still think this track and “Mechanical Bride” are very similar to some early King Crimson songs. However, I suppose you have to have a balance of vocal songs against instrumental songs. I would prefer to hear “Valley of the Kings” or “Sierra Quemada” again live, or even “Circus of Becoming”.

We are now at the point when Steve goes back to 1973 and those classic Genesis days. We are treated to the full version of “Firth of Fifth” with Gary O’Toole on vocals. All I can say is that it was absolutely superb from start to finish. That guitar solo is just something else…. the highlight of the whole trip for me.

You could not have a Hackett show, without an acoustic set. “Walking Away From Rainbows” was performed wonderfully, with great feel and ambience. The classic “Horizons”, and then the band back on for “Blood On The Rooftops”. I still cannot believe that Genesis never played it live. I think Steve went onto mention that his new album was called “Out of The Tunnels Mouth”, which reflected the recent ongoings with his personal and professional life.

“Spectral Mornings” was great, however the power that normally rocks “Fly on A Windshield” just seemed a little flat… although the vocal part of “Broadway” was a surprise to hear…

So what’s left to bang out… Please Don’t Touch, A Tower Struck Down… & then back to the G days. In That Quiet Earth… the Myopia intro into Los Endos…It has to be said that Nick Beggs bass/stick playing is really superb. I spoke to him at the Rome gig, and even he is in about six bands (Kajagoogoo, Kim Wilde etc.), and he went on to say that it took him a couple of months to learn the Hackett set list.

How do you follow that… Clocks with that drum solo… However, I am sure that there was something wrong with O’Toole’s electronic drums as it just did not sound right at the start. Before you knew it, two hours had gone and the five band members were taking their bows to a very enthusiastic crowd…. Top stuff..

Mr Hewitt will be disappointed that no Hackett merchandise was available apart from a poster promoting the “Train on the Road” tour in Nov.

Finally, Mick Pointer’s Marillion Script For A Jester’s Tear was actually very good.
There were a lot of Marillion fans at the gig and it must have been really tough to follow Hackett, but the band featuring Pointer/Nick Barrett/Ian Salmon and a great copy cat Fish (Brian Cummins) proved a really hit.

We were treated to;

Script for A Jester’s Tear
He Knows You Know
The Web
Garden Party
Chelsea Monday
Forgotten Sons
Market Square Heros
Three Boats Down From The Candy

Taxi back to the hotel after the gig, and then up at 7am to fly back to the UK. I was back in Oxford come 1pm… Sunday was a day of rest… bring on the UK gigs in Oct/Nov…

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