CD Review – Steve Hackett – Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith

Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith is from Steve Hackett’s critically acclaimed 2019 UK tour. The concert was recorded at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, the final night of an emphatically successful tour. Steve Hackett was joined by his superb touring band of Roger King (keyboards), Jonas Reingold (bass), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes), Craig Blundell (drums and percussion) with Nad Sylvan on vocals, along with special guests for this performance, Steve’s brother John Hackett on flute and Amanda Lehmann on guitar and vocals.

This was a very special tour for Steve Hackett as it brought together his favourite album from his time as guitarist with Genesis – Selling England By The Pound – which Steve and his band performed live in its entirety for the first time, along with selected tracks from Steve’s personal favourite album from his extensive solo career, Spectral Mornings, together with tracks from his acclaimed 2019 release At The Edge Of Light.

The quality on display on this release is quite astonishing. You might expect the sound quality on a contemporary release to be pristine, and it certainly is that. But the musicianship from Steve and his band possibly eclipses all others at the moment. Steve himself is on brilliant form with his almost typically easy style, which kind of disguises his massive efforts. He is obviously loving what’s going on around him! The band themselves are not eclipsed by the main man. They are all supreme musicians in their own right who all throughout the concert give of their best. Roger Kings proves once again what a consummate musician he is. Nad Sylvan is a charismatic performer who has a great range that completely suits the music and lifts it to somewhere special. Rob Townshend on saxes and flutes has great ability and tone. Some of his mirroring of Roger King, for example on The Cinema Show, is quite spine tingling. He manages to bring a liveliness to music that is already quite moving. The new men on the tour are drummer Craig Blundell and bassist Jonas Reingold. They work together as a powerful and rocking unit, but individually they are superb. The drumming is not just a faithful rendition on the studio music but is full of personality and colour. The drum solo at the closing of Clocks could come across as a ham-fisted clatter-bang affair, but here it remains musical and apposite. Jonas Reingold is one of the most under-rated bassists around. His work here is quite phenomenal, with some superlative bass playing and twelve-string work. He plays exceptionally well throughout, but his tone and timing on tracks like Los Endos is dazzling. Guests John Hackett and Amanda Lehmann bring their distinctive flavours to the table and are as excellent as ever.

The songs are quite something else of course. It is great to hear The Virgin And The Gypsy getting a first airing for some years on the tour and this version turns out to be quite beautiful. Every Day is always a moving piece, while Clocks, Spectral Mornings, and the more recent Under The Eye Of The Sun and Fallen Walls And Pedestals here are quite emotive. Many of the audience though, will have been drawn to the prospect of hearing Selling England By The Pound in full. They wouldn’t have been disappointed either. These renditions are beautifully conceived and played with great verve. The band draws out the essence of the pieces. I Know What I Like is given its joyful feel, The Cinema Show is exciting, Firth Of Fifth powerful but emotional. But the songs are not necessarily presented as done-in-the-studio, but are extended and extemporized. I Know What I Like becomes quite jazzy and jaunty and Los Endos incorporates themes from Steve’s own pieces such as Slogans. Also played was Déja Vu, a tune originally written by Peter Gabriel and later finished by Steve, that was originally planned for the Selling England By The Pound album but in the end unused and not completed at the time.

All in all, this is an excellent package. It could have been an evening of just pure nostalgia, but Steve and his excellent band of fellow musicians prove that there is vitality in these songs still. They still sound fresh and just as relevant as when they were when penned. The crowd are obviously moved and excited. Beyond the nostalgia they were transported to who knows where.

Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live at Hammersmith is released on 25th September, through InsideOut Music in several formats: Limited Edition Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray+DVD with Artbook; 2CD+Blu-ray Digipak; 2CD+DVD Multibox; Limited Edition 4LP+2CD Box Set and Digital album.

The first track to be taken from the show is ‘Déja Vu’ – watch it here: https://youtu.be/TGj5xcmMIJw

Déja Vu’ is also available on all streaming platforms and for pre-order here:

https://store.hackettsongs.com/

Under The Eye Of The Sun, from Selling England & Spectral Mornings : Live at Hammersmith CD/DVD out on 25th September: https://youtu.be/vLXJq7fg5tw

CD1: 63:18

1. Intro (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 1:25

2. Every Day (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:40

3. Under The Eye Of The Sun (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 5:39

4. Fallen Walls And Pedestals (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 2:16

5. Beasts In Our Time (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:26

6. The Virgin And The Gypsy (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 4:42

7. Tigermoth (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 3:15

8. Spectral Mornings (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:25

9. The Red Flower Of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 2:17

10. Clocks – The Angel Of Mons (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:56

11. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 7:29

12. I Know What I Like (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 9:48

CD 2: 63:55

1. Firth Of Fifth (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 10:06

2. More Fool Me (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 3:27

3. The Battle Of Epping Forest (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 11:44

4. After The Ordeal (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 5:00

5. The Cinema Show (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 11:02

6. Aisle Of Plenty (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 1:39

7. Déja Vu (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:25

8. Dance On A Volcano (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:08

9. Los Endos (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 8:24

Blu-Ray: 156:37

1. Intro (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 1:25

2. Every Day (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:26

3. Under The Eye Of The Sun (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 5:27

4. Fallen Walls And Pedestals (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 2:16

5. Beasts In Our Time (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:12

6. The Virgin And The Gypsy (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 4:29

7. Tigermoth (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 3:15

8. Spectral Mornings (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:11

9. The Red Flower Of Tai Chi Blooms Everywhere (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 2:17

10. Clocks – The Angel Of Mons (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:36

11. Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 7:39

12. I Know What I Like (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 9:28

13. Firth Of Fifth (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 9:52

14. More Fool Me (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 3:11

15. The Battle Of Epping Forest (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 11:34

16. After The Ordeal (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 4:48

17. The Cinema Show (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 10:23

18. Aisle Of Plenty (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 1:54

19. Déja Vu (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 6:08

20. Dance On A Volcano (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 5:46

21. Los Endos (Live at Hammersmith, 2019) 07:50

Bonus material

Behind the Scenes documentary 32:30

Line up:

Steve Hackett – Guitar, Vocals

Roger King – Keyboards

Nad Sylvan – Vocals, Tambourine

Craig Blundell – Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Rob Townsend – Saxophone, Woodwind, Percussion, Vocals,

Keyboards, Bass Pedals,

Jonas Reingold – Bass, Variax, Twelve String, Vocals

With special guests:

John Hackett – Flute

Amanda Lehmann – Guitar, Vocals

Official website: http://www.hackettsongs.com

Official webstore: https://store.hackettsongs.com/

All upcoming shows & ticket links: http://www.hackettsongs.com/tour.html

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