“A show of two halves” - Steve Hackett in concert at the Assembly Hall Islington London on Sunday 20th May 2012. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
There is the old adage that football is a game of two halves and strangely enough so was this gig, hence the title. A fundraising effort for Childline; a worthy cause and one which Steve has supported for some time.
The Assembly Hall is a delightful venue, an old fashioned theatre and just the right size to create a suitable atmosphere. Taking my seat in the balcony, Steve eventually walked on stage and soon the proceedings were under way. Right from the start this gig was unusual, as Steve opened the show armed with an acoustic guitar and commenced the Metamorpheus exercise which eventually led to the evergreen Horizons getting both Steve and the audience warmed up nicely. The first half of the show was drawn predominantly from the Genesis era material and so we were treated to Blood On The Rooftops, Firth of Fifth, Fly On A Windshield and Watcher Of The Skies all of which were delivered as impeccably as one would expect from Steve and the band. Hands of The Priestess saw Steve joined onstage by his brother, John for a truly remarkable performance but the highlight of the first half of the show was undoubtedly Shadow Of The Hierophant in which Amanda Lehmann brought this classic to life in a way which has never been achieved before - stunning stuff.
After a rather lengthy interval, the band returned for the second set and once again we got a healthy does of material from Steve’s latest opus including a simply jaw-dropping A Place Called Freedom which has to rate among Steve’s best ever songs in my opinion. Once again, Amanda put in sterling work on Waking To Life with a hauntingly ethereal vocal. There were a few omissions this time round though. No Golden Age Of Steam and no Los Endos but the crowd didn’t seem to mind as the new stuff was sufficient to keep anyone happy. Expectations of special guests and previously unheard material went unheeded as the time flew by and the show concluded with rip roaring versions of Every day and of course, Spectral Mornings.
And so another evening in the company of the maestro and his merry band came to an end. Always a delight and in aid of such a marvellous cause, everyone was a winner - great stuff!