GTR – Two Headed “Steve” Show (Highland HL386/387)

Two Headed “Steve” Show (Highland HL386/387)

Odeon Theatre, Birmingham, England – September 12th, 1986

Disc 1 (64:46):  The Journey/Blood On The Rooftops/Black Light, Cuckoo Cocoon/Two Vamps As Guests/Calmaria, Cavalcanti/Andante In C, Bouree/Horizons, Surface Tension, Mood For A Day, Ram, Second Initial, Country Mix, The Clap, From A Place Where Time Runs Slow, Jekyll And Hyde, Here I Wait, Prizefighters, Imagining

Disc 2 (62:44):  Hackett To Bits, Spectral Mornings, In That Quiet Earth, I Know What I Like, Toe The Line, Sketches In The Sun, Pennants, Roundabout, The Hunter, You Can Still Get Through, Reach Out (Never Say No), When The Heart Rules The Mind

GTR is one of the more bizarre projects in progressive rock.  With their careers in a tailspin, someone somewhere came up with the idea of pairing Steve Hackett and Steve Howe into a band.  The album GTR was released in July 1986 and was a minor hit.  It also spawned two hit singles, “When The Heart Rules The Mind” and “The Hunter.”  The toured for a month in the US and, after scattered dates in the UK and Germany, called it a day after fighting within the band and with management.  

The concerts were a fascinating collection of solo material, Genesis and Yes classics, and of course songs from GTR with the rest of the band Max Bacon (vo), Phil Spalding (b), Jonathan Mover (dr), and Matt Clifford (keyboards).

Two Headed “Steve” Showhas an excellent stereo audience recording of the September 12th, 1986 concert at the Odeon Theatre in Birmingham.  There are minor tape flips between the sets.  The only serious issue is some microphone handling noise during “Surface Tension,” but otherwise it’s an extremely enjoyable show.

The first disc starts with a Hackett solo acoustic set and chooses to play the songs in several short medley.  The first starts is a Bay Of Kings medley starting with “The Journey,” ending with “Black Light,” and has “Blood On The Rooftops” from Wind & Wuthering in the middle.  The second begins with “Cuckoo Cocoon” from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, “Two Vamps As Guests” from Defector, and “Cavalcanti” from Momentum.  His opening set ends with Bach’s Bouree, which he mentions has the bass parts in the melody, and ending with “Horizons” from Foxtrot, his earliest signature tune.

Steve Howe begins his with “Surface Tension” from his 1979 The Steve Howe Album release followed by “Mood For A Day” and “Ram” from Beginnings.  “Second Initial” had yet to be released at this point, appearing on Not Necessarily Acoustic in 1994, but he explains how it was written about his son.  “Country Mix” is his tribute to Chet Atkins which also would be released eight years later.  His solo set ends with “Clap,” his first signature solo piece.

Howe then invites Hackett and keyboardist Matt Clifford for a performance of the gorgeous “From A Place Where Time Runs Slow.”  This was written with the second GTR album in mind, but wouldn’t be recorded and released until Howe’s Turbulence.  This song is one of Howe’s most sublime creations and hearing it in its original state with Hackett is one of the highlights of this release and is worth the price alone.

The first half of the show ends with four songs with the entire band.  Three songs, “Jekyll And Hyde,” “Here I Wait,” and “Imagining” come from the GTR album and one songs, “Prizefighters,” was written during the summer while they were on tour in America and intended for the second album.

The second disc begins with a Steve Hackett solo electric set beginning with “Hackett To Bits.”  This is a song from GTRbut contains melodies and themes from his solo work with “Please Don’t Touch” being most prevalent and which he calls “short but sweet, short but loud, short but raucous.”  He continues with “Spectral Mornings” and ends with the Genesis song “I Know What I Like” with Bacon trying to carry the tune. 

Howe’s second solo set includes the rarely played but excellent “Pennants” from his 1979 album and ends with “Roundabout” with Bacon again trying to carry the melody.  The show ends with more songs from the GTR album ending with the hit “When The Heart Rules The Mind.”  It is a catchy pop tune that deserved its hit status for the time.  But circumstances would deem this to be one of the final GTR concerts.  Highland produced several GTR titles during their run and Two Headed “Steve” Show is a very good one to have.

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