Steve Hackett – Live Archive 83 (CAMCD37)

Live Archive 83 (CAMCD37)

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland – November 4th, 1983 

(54:36):  Calmaria, Hands Of The Priestess, Jacuzzi, The Barren Land, Tales Of The Riverbank, Second Chance, Oriental Improvisation, Petropolis, Kim, The Water Wheel, Concert For Munich, The Journey, Ace Of Wands, A Cradle Of Swans, Jazz On A Summer’s Night, Horizons, Time Lapse At Milton Keynes, Bay Of Kings

Steve Hackett was one artist who carried progressive rock in the late seventies and early eighties after all of the major bands had already tried to adapt to the mainstream.  Voyage Of The Acolyte to Defector are all major contributions to that style of music with Hackett experimenting with tones on guitar and intersting keyboard styles.

On Cured he took a compromising step towards mainstream pop music.  His biggest change, however, occurred in 1983 with the release of Bay Of Kings.  Rather than focusing on progressive rock or pop, he concentrated on classical guitar compositions.  All of the tunes were instrumental and was joined only by his brother John on flute and Nick Mangus on keyboards.

Live Archive 83 is the final installment of the Hackett Live Archive series produced by Camino Records.  Hackett soon left the label and the label abandoned the project.  It was released in a jewel case and, in the deluxe box, in a cardboard sleeve.

The bulk of the recording is sourced from an excellent recording from the November 4th, 1983 show in Edinburgh during a short, twenty gig tour of the UK.  The first three songs of the set are missing and are compensated by a recording later in the month (rather incongruously placed after the Edinburgh tape, however).  The echo in the recording gives it a light, airy timbre to the music.

The tape begins with the fourth number of the night “Calmaria” from the new album.  He then introduces his brother John on flute for an eerie and haunting rendition of “Hands Of The Priestess.”  He keeps the show moving along introducing the tunes such as asking the audience if they remember Hammy Hamster before “Tales Of The Riverbank.”

Live rarities include “Concert For Munich” (introduced as just “Munich”) and “A Cradle Of Swans.”  Also performed is “The Water Wheel,” a study for a piece which has not yet emerged.

As much as Steve is the star of the show, John is also given an opportunity to carry the show.  Many of the song’s melodies are played on the flute including the incredible acoustic arrangement of “Ace Of Wands” from his first solo album.  According to Hackett, it is actually based upon the original demo of the song instead of the official full band recording. 

The three songs missing from the start of the show are tacked on the end from another show.  “Horizons” starts the show off in a mellow mood and is, interestingly, the only Genesis era song played in the set.  The sound quality isn’t as good as Edinburgh, but still very good.

Hackett would return to this format several more times in his career, most notably in 1988 after GTR folded and again in 2005 when I saw him play in Buffalo, New York.  It is a testament to his talent that he can convey his ideas in both electric rock with heavy instrumentation and in an intimate, solo environment such as this. 

Camino Records have phased out most of the physical CDs in the Live Archive series (offering them as downloads instead).  But late in 2010 announced they still have some copies of this disc available through their website.  Their delivery is amazingly fast to the US, and all Hackett fans are encouraged to pick this up before it disappears forever.      

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