The Blackheart Orchestra and John Hackett Band in concert at Zanzibar, Liverpool, Friday 9th June 2023. Review and photographs by Alan Hewitt.
It has been a long time since I have had the pleasure of seeing the JHB in concert. Much water and a Pandemic has passed since then but here they were, in my own home town too!
Tonight's gig was a double header featuring the duo that go under the somewhat misleading title of The Blackeart Orchestra who took the stage first. Not being familiar with any of their material I can't really tell you what tracks were played. What I can tell you though is that they made a phenomenal sound and are well worth seeing if you can catch them.
On to the reason I was here - The John Hackett Band. The band have progressed phenomenally since their debut album Checking Out Of London back in 2004 (Jesus, was it really THAT long ago?).
Tonight we had a veritable smorgasbord of older material from that album along with others from the more recent releases as well as some samples from the upcoming album due for release in September I believe.
Of the older material, Dreamtown was exquisite as was Burnt Down Trees. There were lengthy instrumental workouts too such as Duncan Parsons' Queenie And Elmo's Perfect Day.
The new material including Theme And Rondo - don't be fooled by the title folks, this had nothing to do with Baroque music and everything to do with the jazzier, fusion led direction the band have taken over their last couple of albums. Guitarist Nick Fletcher dazzled on this one.
Each and every band member had their moment to shine and their performance culminated in a stunning reading of the King Crimson classic : I Talk To The Wind on which every musician was note perfect and Jeremy Richardson who assumed the late John Wetton's vocal mantle did so superbly.
The evening was over all too quickly as is always the case when you are having fun and this was FUN! My thanks to John, Jeremy, Duncan, Nick and The Blackheart Orchestra for an evening of musical prog excellence.
JHB Set list: Spyglass/Whispers/Theme & Rondo/The Committee/Burnt Down Trees/Queenie & Elmo's Perfect Day/Dreamtown/Winds Of Change/Who Let The Rain In/Clare's Tango/I Talk To The Wind/Red Institution/Life In Reverse/That Ship Has Sailed.
Encore: Red Hair.