Prog - - Take A Bow - DAVID WEST

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.

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