dvd & video review
Originally conceived as a cable TV broadcast in Argentina, the arriving to the DVD format of this show has not been without problems. First, Steve wanted to create a “visual extravaganza” with alternate camera angles and surround sound but the TV channel destroyed the tapes of each camera, leaving the original program’s cut. When this cut arrived to the offices of Camino Records (Steve’s own record company) they realized they’ve been sent a regular tape with the sign of the channel on the corner of the image! Finally, with the cut transferred properly to digital format with (thanks God!) the 5.1 sound mix and a nice image quality, the PAL version comes out with a sound sync problem.
For good or bad, and to compensate, the European release (without a big extra charge on the price) it’s accompanied with two live cds with the same material as the DVD. This gesture, I guess, is directed towards the fans who want to hear “Mechanical Bride” in the car or in the Discman while they are heading towards class.
In fact, “Mechanical Bride”, is one of the new tracks included in the discs, which showcases the desire of Hackett’s road testing of the new songs prior recording them. “Bride” is basically the very particular version that the guitarist has of the King Crimson’s “Schizoid Man”. Along with this example of precision and energy there is an enigmatic ballad with a 70s flavor called “Serpent Song”. All this without forgetting the intro for the concert, “The floating seventh”, and a series of tracks that are used as short instrumental links between songs, as Roger King (keyboards) expressed on his on-line diary (which can be found at Steve’s official website), Steve wanted to avoid the usual speech to introduce each song. The names of this “links” are: “Pollution”, “The wall of knives” and “Lucridous”.
Of course, Hackett also takes a look at his back catalogue, especially the numbers that require a full band to be played as the acoustic/classical side of his playing has been left for a future DVD (provisionally named “Hungarian Horizons”), so, even tracks like “Walking away from rainbows” and the Eric Satie’s piece “Gnossienne #1” are played with the electric guitar, only “Horizons”, the classic instrumental track from “Foxtrot” it’s played with the acoustic.
Hackett’s new band is fantastic, especially the new drummer Gary O’Toole and the interesting addition of saxophonist Rob Townsend which gives another dimension to some of the tracks. There is a wide look at Steve’s career (although one is always missing a personal favorite or two) but to enjoy his guitar playing and delightful technique is attractive enough anyway. And also to hear a real band playing the songs form “Darktown”, something I was personally missing.
In the “extras section” we get a brief (20 minutes) documentary about the Italian tour of 2001, this is a bit weird since some of the musicians involved in that tour do not appear on the “main feature”, but to know the points of view of the guitarist about the dynamics of the music holds it’s own interest. A very good recording and a wonderful chance to see in action a great writer and musician, now, if only we could see him playing live more often…