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Steve Hackett – Wuthering Nights Live In Birmingham

A great souvenir of a great show

Available now on Inside Out Records and heard with an appropriate sense of reverence by Paul Quinton

It’s been customary for a few years now for bands to mark a tour with a live album or DVD of a particular show, and Steve Hackett has been no exception, Since the success of his Genesis Revisited tour, coupled with his critically acclaimed solo work, the last few years have seen him touring regularly, with almost every tour commemorated with a live album and DVD. While his releases from previous tours have been from shows in London, and, on the last tour, Liverpool, for his tour in support of his ‘Night Siren’ album, he chose to film and record his sell out show in the luxurious surroundings of Symphony Hall. The tour also coincided with the 40th Anniversary of his final album with Genesis, ‘Wind And Wuthering’, which was to feature heavily in the ‘Genesis’ section of the show.

The album comes in several formats, a Special Edition 2CD/2DVD, a Blu Ray plus download version and a Blu Ray only, but it’s the CD and DVD version we consider here. Hackett put the show together so that his solo work took up the first half, before turning to his time in Genesis in the second. The show opens with an absolutely pristine ‘Everyday’, which, with the band augmented by Amanda Lehmann on second guitar, featured five part harmony vocals, which were something special to hear live. As well as the Night Siren material, there were songs played from across his solo career, including a terrific ‘Serpentine Song’, before the opening set concluded with the epic ‘Shadow of the Heirophant’. Interestingly the CD version adds the opening song from the Genesis set. ‘Eleventh Earl of Mar’ to the first disc, no doubt because the whole of the second set, plus the encore, wouldn’t fit on a single CD. Also, having been at the show when it was filmed, one of my initial impressions was that some of the introductions and between song chat had been edited out. I haven’t done a direct comparison with the DVD, and, while that’s obviously not an essential part of this show, it did make the first couple of listens feel a little incomplete.

As a result, the second CD opens with ‘One For The Vine’, and covers a fair proportion of the rest of the ‘Wind and Wuthering’ album, as well as some of the other Genesis songs that have become a fixture in the set over the years, with the band is augmented by Nad Sylvan, who takes on many of the vocals. ‘Afterglow’ is its usual brilliantly melancholic self, and ‘Blood on the Rooftops’ is rapidly becoming one of my favourite Genesis songs, its nostalgic lyrics wonderfully delivered by Gary O’Toole. It’s also good that Hackett slips in a surprise with one of the outtakes from the album, ‘Inside Out’, although he confesses that he always thought it should have been on the album in the first place, before he finishes with some of his most popular Genesis songs, ‘Firth of Fifth’, with possibly his most famous guitar solo, a majestic ‘Musical Box’, and the encore of ‘Los Endos.’ It was a great show, and this is a fine audio souvenir.

Similarly the DVD version, superbly filmed, and capturing the atmosphere of the night so well. Again, it sounds superb, and Symphony Hall looks at its best, especially in the camera angles from high above the stage. It also gives you an insight into the workings of the band you might not be able to pick up from the audience, like how much Rob Townsend’s sax contributes to the overall sound of the band, as well as his occasional keyboard playing, the understated brilliance of Roger King’s keyboard work, and how time seems to have had no effect at all on Hackett’s own genius on the guitar, and I also enjoyed seeing Nick Beggs getting carried away during the ending of ‘…Heirophant’, beating his bass pedals with his fists as the song reaches its climax.

As well as the concert film, there are some extras spread across the two DVDs. Part one has a 30 minute ‘Behind The Scenes’ documentary, with short interviews with the various band members, a longer focus on Hackett himself, who talks about the album, some of the songs and the tour itself, with some complimentary remarks about the Birmingham crowd. There’s also some backstage footage, and one thing that struck me was how far it is from the stage to the dressing rooms in Symphony Hall. Little details like that can add so much to a straightforward concert film. The second disc has the three promo videos filmed for ‘Night Siren’, two of which, ‘Behind The Smoke’, with its Middle eastern musical influence, and ‘West to East’ reflect the refugee issue, although the latter takes a far more positive view than the former, ‘Fifty Miles from the North Pole’, on the other hand, appears to have been shot in Iceland, and has more of a storyline.

On the whole, this is a great package, beautifully produced, audially and visually, and a great souvenir of a memorable show and tour. Steve Hackett and Genesis fans should consider this an essential purchase, and the less committed might find it well worthwhile to see why the great man is still relevant and pulling in crowds in 2018.

Steve Hackett – Wuthering Nights Live In BirminghamCD1:

  1. Everyday
  2. El Nino
  3. The Steppes
  4. In The Skeleton Gallery
  5. Behind The Smoke
  6. Serpentine Song
  7. Rise Again
  8. Shadow Of The Heirophant
  9. Eleventh Earl Of Mar

CD2:

  1. One For The Vine
  2. Acoustic Improvisation
  3. Blood On The Rooftops
  4. In That Quiet Earth
  5. Afterglow
  6. Dance On A Volcano
  7. Inside And Out
  8. Firth Of Fifth
  9. The Musical Box
  10. Los Endos

DVD 1:

  • Concert Part 1
  • Wuthering Nights, Live In Birmingham, Behind the Scenes Documentary

DVD 2

  • Concert Part 2
  • Video Clips:
  • Behind The Smoke
  • Fifty Miles from the North Pole
  • West to East

 

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