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Steve Hackett - Live - Fire & Ice CD (album) cover

LIVE - FIRE & ICE

Steve Hackett

 

Eclectic Prog

4.00 | 36 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Off the rails

We fans of Steve Hackett have been truly blessed with high quality live releases in recent years, my personal favourites being The Tokyo Tapes (double CD 1997/DVD 2001; reissued in 2014 as a three disc set), Somewhere In South America (DVD & 2CD package 2003), and Once Above A Time (DVD 2004). The present live concert recording called Fire & Ice is available as a DVD video and as an audio-only digital download (available through Steve Hackett's official website). Since I have only the latter I am not able to comment on the visual aspects of this release.

The track list of Fire & Ice is rather similar to that of Rails Live (a double CD live album that was released one year before this one); no fewer than 11 of the 20 songs featured here were also present on that album (and most of the others were included on other recent Hackett live releases). The line-up here is identical to that on Rails with Roger King, Amanda Lehmann, Gary O'Toole, Nick Beggs, and Rob Townsend making up Steve's band. Overall, I think that Rails Live is the stronger of the two.

Like when Rails was recorded, they were touring here in support of the Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth album. As many as five out of the eight tracks from that album are present here. And even though I find Out Of The Tunnel's Mouth to be an excellent album, I am not entirely happy with all of the inclusions from it. Still Waters in particular is too much of a Blues rocker for my taste, and an unusually strong focus on Blues is actually something that may be said to hold for Fire & Ice as a whole. Steve even explicitly defends the Blues at one point by urging the audience: "Let's hear it for the Blues, that much maligned form". John Wetton joins Steve and the band on stage for a rendition of All Along The Watchtower (written by Bob Dylan and popularised by Jimmi Hendrix) which is another of this album's bluesier tracks, yet another being Prairie Angel which is a new song that would later appear on Beyond The Shrouded Horizon.

There are five Genesis classics performed here - Watcher Of The Skies, Firth Of Fifth, Carpet Crawlers, Los Endos, and Blood On The Rooftops - all of which have been featured on other recent Steve Hackett live releases. Of course I love them all, but I must admit that Carpet Crawlers has never been a big favourite of mine. It is too much of a vocally oriented track for this setting and it works better in the Genesis Revisited show. Again like on Rails, the acoustic side of Steve Hackett is not much on display on this quite rocking album. The Darkness In Men's Hearts is a solo performance by Nick Beggs on his Chapman stick which is pleasant enough but not too exciting. The worst track is The Golden Age Of Steam, originally from the weak Darktown album, which I find it hard to understand why they included at all.

Had this been Steve Hackett's only live album I would perhaps have felt somewhat differently, but as there are so many excellent live releases from him available there is much to live up to and in my view Fire & Ice is just not as good as most of the others. Go instead for those I mentioned at the beginning, and if you already have those then Rails Live is a good addition as well. Fire & Ice is good too, but not essential.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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