"Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth……and into the Station" - Steve Hackett Live at Farnham Maltings, 16 December 2010. Review by Anthony Hobkinson. Photos by Stuart Barnes.

As the Hackett train finally pulled into the station at the end of a long and memorable 2010 tour, how fitting it was that the last gig should take place at The Maltings. It is an intimate venue with a capacity of only 500 (standing) and long associated with Genesis history.

My fond memories of the night are not just of the music but the wonderful atmosphere. The Hall feels more like a school gym and the stage is compact. All this, and the presence of so many of Steve’s friends and family, made it feel more like an end of term party, which I guess in so many ways it really was.

The ice, snow, and bitter cold seemed to have followed us from the Shepherd’s Bush gig at the end of November, but as the intro weaved into Valley of the Kings all that was quickly forgotten. Standing just a few feet from the maestro I was able to see his fretwork close at hand, which at times was simply mesmerizing. In fact it made me feel utterly useless when I contrasted it with my own pathetic and abortive attempts in my youth to try to master the guitar. (I never progressed much beyond the into to Smoke on the Water.)

As at Shepherd’s Bush, the set list comprised several tracks from Steve’s latest album alongside Genesis classics from what I regard as their golden era. When once (thanks to a certain Mr. Hewitt) I had the good fortune to meet Steve and we were exchanging views on music, he remarked that people’s real musical loves that stayed with them as they grew older often coincided with puberty: and for me that was around 1975. So to hear tracks from Selling England, The Lamb, Trick, and Wind, was a real treat. What perhaps I had not expected was how easily and well the most recent material sat alongside these treasures. As Fire on the Moon burst into the chorus it sent tingles down my spine, and Emerald and Ash dripped with emotion.

No Hackett concert would however be complete without a few of the solo “classics”, and we weren’t disappointed as we took a trip back to Voyage of the Acoloyte and Spectral Mornings.

In the midst of all this we were also treated to a great Nick Beggs chapman stick solo (shame it doesn’t seem to have been recorded yet), and a brief appearance by John Hackett after the Interval for Hands of the Priestess.
Whether it was that end of term feeling surfacing, or the genuine warmth and appreciation coming back at them from the crowd, I don’t know, but the whole band seemed so relaxed and enjoying the occasion. With that, standing shoulder to shoulder with many ardent Hackett fans, and the occasional sideways step to make way for Steve’s mum or aunt, it felt very much like we’d been let in to a private party for the evening….and some party it was.

Set List (with thanks to Roger King): Intro, Valley Of The Kings, Every Day, Emerald and Ash, Golden Age of Steam, Watcher Of The Skies, Carpet Crawlers, Fire On The Moon, Ace Of Wands, Hierophant, Sierra Quemada, Hands Of The Priestess Pt1, Blood On The Rooftops, Sleepers, The Darkness In Men's Hearts (Nick Solo), Still Waters, Prairie Angel/Los Endos, Firth Of Fifth, Clocks