The Sage in Gateshead is without doubt one of the best venues in the North East in which to stage any musical event and seems to lend itself perfectly to artists such as Prog icon Steve Hackett. This was the second time that the Progmeister crew had travelled to The Sage as true Hackett devotees the previous occasion risking life and limb in the worst arctic conditions experienced for many years. It was worth it then and more so this time. I make no secret of my respect for Steve Hackett and my passion for his music. I feel that whilst evolving and edging his brand of blues/Prog into a more contemporary place he never betrays his roots and holds fast to what many hold dear.
As the house lights died down and the now familiar low frequency drones rattled internal organs theHackett brigade slowly took up their battle stations. It wasn’t long before the band were driving out a rousing “Loch Lomond” from his most recent album “Beyond The Shrouded Horizon”. Indeed most of the songs from the new album were played simultaneously, the pattern being broken by “Golden Age Of Steam” and then returning briefly to more recent times with “Fire On The Moon”. It was very difficult to pick out high points of the evening though I would sight “Every Day”, “Walking Away From Rainbows” and “Shadow Of The Hierophant” as being exceptional. Amanda Lehmann makes the latter something very special indeed lending to it a purity and delicate precursor to it’s protracted and dramatic finale.
There was something there for all in attendance whether he or she be a genesis fan or a newcomer to the genre. All that can be said is that Mr Hackett had all bases covered. The core of his touring band remained rock steady and being quietly magnificent allowing Steve to remain the figurehead of great musical tour de force. Whist the last tour was a refeshing move away from Steve’s tried and tested stage performance i was of the opinion that Nick Beggs who is himself a hugely talented individual robbed Steve of some of his hard earned kudos. The addition of lee Pomeroy to this finely honed band playing bass and associated weaponry was a master stroke. Lee fitted seemlesly into the already well established touring band. Gary O’Toole’s drums drove the band through an electrifying gig as did Rob Townsend’s finesse and deft of hand. Roger King’s keyboard were a little too far back in the mix for my liking though his contribution to such events can never be too understated.
Chatting to steve backstage after the gig it was evident that he was wrestling with a cold and visibly tired so we kept things brief before hitting the night air. Steve was in good spirits though and shared a glass of wine with us all before he left. On this occasion i took my son James to whom Steve Hackett as been a hero since the age of ten. It was a very proud moment for me as without Steve Hackett’s influence james would not have been the great guitarist he is.
At 62 years old Steve Hackett shows no signs of slowing down or standing still. I am sure that all in attendance at The Sage that night will attest to an amazing performance by a a legend that still has his feet on the floor aand time for his many fans. one of the best gigs I have been to for a while.
Thanks to Brendan Eyre for pictures.