In Concert: Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio

There are concerts, and then there are live music experiences. Last night I witnessed the latter, as Steve Hackett and his acoustic trio performed at the Keswick Theatre (just north of Philadelphia). For two hours I witnessed a true artist perform his craft.

Admittedly, I never really got into Hackett’s solo career. Not because it’s not good, but mostly because I just never got around to it. I’ve been a big fan of Genesis for years, but most fans would probably acknowledge that Hackett was criminally underused in that band.

But enough about that. I and the missus made the trek down to Keswick Village last night to catch the show. We didn’t get to spend any time in the town, but it seems like a nice area. It has a very quaint, small-town feel without seeming too rural or small-town. I’d definitely like to return to the area to see what else it has to offer.

The theater itself is very nice. According to the theater’s web site, it opened its doors in 1928 and was converted into a movie house in 1955. The exterior of the building definitely has that great 1950s movie house look. The interior is quite charming, without being antiquated. Unfortunately, the web site has precious few interior photos, but believe me when I say this is a nice place to see a show and I will definitely be back. As an added bonus, the PA system piped disc one of the last Steely Dan greatest hits collection before and after the show, which is always welcome.

The show began when Steve strolled onto the stage, all casual like, and perched himself in the middle. He started off with some solo stuff and a medley that incorporated some of his classic Genesis work, and was based loosely on Mason Williams’s “Classical Gas.” After the first few songs, he said hello. Right away the mood for the evening was established – laid back and fun. I didn’t know what to expect from him in terms of stage presence, but he pretty quickly made an impression on me as an easygoing, friendly guy. No snobbery or pretentiousness at all. Very cool. He played for about an hour, and to be honest I only recognized the Genesis stuff. But everything I heard was fantastic. In between songs Steve chatted with the audience and cracked a few jokes in the typical dry British style.

After an intermission, Steve came back out with the other two members of the trio – brother John on flute and keyboardist Roger King. This portion of the show was equally as brilliant as the first. In addition to playing pieces from Steve’s solo career and Genesis, we were treated to an original composition by King and a song from one of John’s solo albums.

The highlights for me were, of course, the Genesis pieces and four selections from Steve and John’s Sketches of Satie album. But honestly, every piece was music of the highest quality.  I guess now there are even more CDs I have to buy!