In 1996, veteran guitarist Steve Hackett fulfilled a long-standing desire to perform in Japan, so he put together a five-piece band of friends from his past, with a two-fold purpose. Not only would he be performing with mates, but the band would take excursions into their individual pasts, including visits to his work with Genesis (“Watcher of the Skies,” “Firth of Fifth,” “In That Quiet Earth”) and lead vocalist John Wetton‘s solo work, as well as his days with King Crimson (“The Court of the Crimson King,” “I Talk To The Wind”). Those nostalgic trips are excellent, masterful takes on classic numbers, sounding fresh and new, even though decades old. What really makes this performance excellent are Hackett’s instrumental work. Some of the songs are driving rock (“Riding the Colossus”) while some of them, like “Horizons,” “Black Light,” and “Walking Away from Rainbows,” are beautiful, delicate ambient pieces. Perhaps the best number is John Wetton’s sublime acoustic version of his most well-known song with Asia, “Heat of the Moment.” Stripped of its distinctive beat and somewhat overwhelming 1980s production, one realizes just how powerful of a song it is.
Also included in this set is a DVD of the entire concert, as well as three studio recordings–two of which filled out the original release, and were merely OK hard rock instrumentals and a lovely version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” with Wetton on vocals. The Tokyo Tapes serves as an excellent document of Hackett’s vast catalog of work–as well as a fun time for the music veterans.
The Tokyo Tapes is available now via Esoteric Antenna
Categories: Album Reviews