Esoteric Antenna (label)
03 January 2014 (released)
03 January 2014
This release features the ‘legendary’ Bremen broadcast that was shown on the ‘Musikladen’ show in 1978.
Just why it hasn’t surfaced before now is a puzzlement because it is, from start to finish, a band at the peak of its performing talents and while the image quality shows its age the sound is first class – much to the surprise of the German techs: “At the time of the recording of the Musikladen show in Germany, we struggled to meet the needs of the studio technicians who wanted us to turn down our amps… We got out of it in the time honoured way by doing what we liked on the night and up went the amps to eleven as usual! On reflection I think it came out really well.” Says Hackett of the show.
This catches the band just before the release of ‘Spectral Mornings’ and as you might expect it is laden with multi-tracked guitars and keyboards and jams that seem to define ‘Prog’ in the interplays between the instruments and the different styles of the musicians. That having been said, the music is fresh and the band are playing with real joy and freedom and it is easy to understand why there was so much of a divide between the punks and the ‘proggers’ at the time.
Musically, this is complex with many changes in tempo and long periods where passage flows seamlessly into the next but the intricacy isn’t self-indulgent – the music calls for development of themes and a dense structure and is ultimately very satisfying.
The band that Hackett had together at that time were all top class with John Hackett (Flute, guitar, bass pedals), Nick Magnus on percussion, Dik Cadbury on bass and John Shearer on drums. The vocalist for the main part was Pete Hicks and the band sound as though they had been playing together for years whereas they actually had only existed as a band for a couple of months.
The set features numbers from all his albums to that point – Please Don’t Touch, Voyage of the Acolyte, Spectral Mornings – and the close of the set with ‘Shadow of the Hierophant’ running into ‘Clocks/Angel of Mons’ is quintessential Steve Hackett.
As ever, those nice people at Esoteric have included bonus tracks that were recorded but not shown – a highly amusing ‘Carry on Up the Vicarage’ and ‘Star of Sirius’.
A really fine release and shows just how good progressive music can be.