JOHN HACKETT BAND
Sunday is definitely not the new Saturday. Pity the poor promoter trying to tempt punters out on the last night of the week. Tonight, the audience for the John Hackett Band remains stubbornly in single figures, which is a damn shame. John might not have the same name recognition as his more famous elder brother Steve, but when his band get cooking, they really generate some heat.
The music selection this evening draws extensively from 2017’s We
Are not Alone album, which moves between BBC Radio 2-friendly AoR and balladry to some genuinely thrilling prog workouts, pulling in jazz-funk and fusion influences.
Hackett shares the singing with bassist Jeremy Richardson, although neither offers dazzling feats of vocal acrobatics, particularly Hackett, who has a very softly delivered, almost spoken delivery.
They start tonight’s set strongly with Whispers, while Take Control
(“not a 27-minute prog epic about Brexit,” jokes Hackett) has a touch of Supertramp in Hackett’s keyboard riff. Burnt Down Trees is the first song to bring in the funk, with Richardson busting out some slap bass.
it’s the instrumentals in the set that allow the players to really stretch out, the fusion-meets-prog of Queenie And elmo’s Perfect Day out giving everyone a chance to take the spotlight. Taking a break from his day job as a classical guitarist, nick Fletcher is consistently spectacular, cutting one thrilling solo after another. Drummer Duncan Parsons takes his own solo during Mr. Magnolia, his ostinato-led approach reminiscent of Simon Phillips as he sets up a phrase on the kit and then plays around it.
ego & id, the heaviest track, is a real showcase for Fletcher, concluding the first set with crunchy riffage and unabashed shredding from the guitarist’s exceptionally fleet fingers, which at times approach
John McLaughlin levels of velocity.
After a short break, set two commences with Parsons performing a little bit of stand-up comedy, reading the answers from a spoof pub quiz, before the music resumes with another instrumental workout in Winds of Change.
in the second half, the lovely acoustic number overnight Snow is a standout with Hackett on flute, although there’s a lot of mid-tempo, middle-of-the-road material in this set. Both Headlights and never Gonna Make A Dime amble by, but the band finish with a blast through Red Hair, which channels the manic energy of Focus as Hackett and Fletcher race each other for the finish line.
Hopefully, the next time the John Hackett Band come to town, they’ll draw the numbers they deserve.