As soon as the dates for the 2005 tour were announced I offered to be the driver for Alan Hewitt (as he doesn’t drive or own a car) because he had been offered a position of Merchandiser on the 2005 Steve Hackett Acoustic Trio tour and so he needed to be able to travel from gig to gig.
Once I was vetted by Steve’s management I was handed a Double A pass (laminated) and I was simply instructed to drive Alan from gig to gig, which I relished and enjoyed immensely. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity made possible partly due to Alan of TWR who needed to get from gig to gig efficiently, and partly due to me attending the gigs in 2003/2004 and making myself known to the band/management in a positive way.
I set off from home and I got stuck in a traffic jam near Heathrow, I finally got into the hotel a bit late but I checked in, I then got the Train into London and then the tube. I arrived at the venue to find it locked, I signalled the merchandiser and through my semaphore and his I worked out that I was to go to the stage office at the back of the venue.
The QEH London, Sunday 3rd April 2005
I enjoyed a soft drink backstage with John Hackett and his family whilst I was able to watch Steve sound check on Three TV’s in this hospitality area. The time flew by, and I made my way to my seat (paid for by me) The gig started with Steve playing the first set solo (just him and an acoustic guitar) the audience loved it, as did I and I later found out that night after a conversation with Ben Fenner that the gig was being recorded and would later surface as Steve Hackett Archive 05.
Steve was able to put the audience at ease, and he cracked a few well timed and tasteful jokes, plus his finger picking technique on the acoustic guitar is delightful. The interval arrived, and a quick break to spend a penny and to buy a pricey drink, and then the chimes soon signalled it was time to head back to my seat.
Now the second half began and Steve was joined on stage by his brother John, and Keyboard player Roger King. More banter between the trio flowed and some of it was quite dry yet witty, the songs sounded more rounded by the addition of both John and Roger.
Time did indeed stand still during “The Red Flower of Tai chi Blooms Everywhere” but tears of emotion did well up as it’s a moving song, this of course interspersed with “The Hands of a Priestess” bizarrely then time seemed to speed up and the house lights were on, Steve’s mum was in attendance as were friends and former band members (not Genesis) and there was a party being held backstage.
Before I left the Auditorium I had a brief chat with Ben Fenner, who was manning the sound desk, he explained that Steve was recording tonight’s gig for a possible official release and that Ben wouldn’t be doing the sound on the rest of the tour, later after the tour had ended this gig was released in full as Archive 05. I also made the visit to the merchandise desk as a customer and I purchased the Obligatory Tour T Shirt and a nice polo shirt as well.
I helped the merchandiser pack up, and we headed off backstage to see what all the fun was about, well there was a lovely buffet and drinks laid on, sadly it was really hot in the room and the merchandiser and I didn’t stick around for too long.
We got on the train, and then into the hotel for the night.
The Komedia Brighton, Monday 4th April 2005
Awoke next morning, and the hotel couldn’t offer breakfast as there was building work going on, so I headed down to Chiddingfold and by that time it was lunch, so I ordered my favourite meal from The Crown, and soon enough Cod (in ale batter) and Chips arrived in a basket and it was devoured.
Now I was ready, and I headed off to Brighton, having never been there before and to the venue.
Got to Brighton in plenty of time, alas I do not know what the great fuss is about in regard to the place, I found a car park and myself and the merchandiser went looking for the venue. Finally got to the venue to find Billy Budis (Steve’s manager/Live sound guy and Master of other trades) setting up the sound check, whilst Tigger Matthews was setting up the lights and changing gel packs (this involved scaling a tall ladder amongst other things).
Sadly the way the venue is there wasn’t much for me or the merchandiser to do until about 2 hours before the gig, so we went for a walk and came back (honestly Brighton is nothing to write home about).
Anyway, night soon fell and the venue filled up, although this is a venue where you can order food which looked delicious by the way. But I found it odd to see Steve playing away during the gig and then waiters serving the clientele there main course bizarre is a word that springs to mind.
Also, it did seem as though some of the folk at the venue thought that the tour programme was free (it was actually £5) as some folk helped themselves to copies. The gig over and the merchandise packed away it was now midnight, myself and the merchandiser headed back to the car park to find it was £10 in parking charges (I’m not going to park there again).
A long drive back to Coventry in fact I think it was something like 4am by the time I was coming through the door.
Huntingdon Hall Worcester, Tuesday 5th April 2005
Worcester is only an hour away from Coventry, and it’s a nice place. I set off from Coventry having got some much earned rest The merchandiser was in good spirits too. I used my crude itinerary whilst stopped at the local petrol station and we set off.
Got to Worcester rather quickly, and just parked the car into the first car park we found (Merchandiser not a bad navigator actually) ate a sandwich looked at the map (in my crude itinerary to get some bearings) and low and behold we were ONE street away from the venue.
Got into the venue to find it was a former Methodist Church Hall, the venue was splendid complete with pews and a pulpit etc. The merchandiser and I walked in and just took in the ambience, Again looking at the venue it seems you’d be there to receive a blessing and not to watch a musical performance, what with a Pulpit/Alter and Pews complete with a pipe organ.
I watched the sound check, and also Roger King who walked off to play the pipe organ (you had to be there).
Billy Budis asked myself and the merchandiser did we want anything to eat, (I thought it would be rude to say NO) back came a yes please, followed by what would you like (choices were given and I asked for Steak and Chips).
Time passed and dinner was said to be ready, I followed Tigger up to the dining room, I sat down at the table with plates of Steak and chips on it, next minute Steve turns up with his brother John and sat next to me. I was very nervous and I kept thinking I must be on my best manners/behaviour here. Steve devoured the Steak and made his way back to the dressing room.
The rest of the band where there along with Alan and the banter flowed. Narnia Lady (Stephanie Kennedy) from the Genesis forum was there with her husband and a friend it was nice to meet fellow fans, she said she hoped to see a few more gigs on this tour herself. After the gig Steve, John and Roger did the traditional meet and greet and photo and signing session, Alan and I didn’t stay too long but at least it was a short drive back to Coventry.
Coventry, Wednesday 6th April 2005
Although it’s not a place Steve has gigged in a while I thought I should mention it, at the last date of the 2004 Rock Tour that I attended in Oxford, I had a conversation with Roger King (Steve’s Keyboardist and Studio Boffin). He had asked if I had ever visited Coventry Cathedral considering the fact that I live in Coventry, back came the reply “No I haven’t…”, rather sheepishly. Well, Roger being Roger said that I should.
I had completely forgotten about this conversation until I was backstage at the QEH (on this tour) when it came up in conversation, So I thought to myself right I will go and see it and I’ll show Alan around whilst he is here also.
So that is what we did, and might I say it is beautiful and well worth the visit this is what we did on our day off, that and watch some DVD’s and we also ate some home made curry.
St Georges Hall Bristol, Thursday 7th April 2005
We set off for Bristol, I used to live here many years ago. The crude Itinerary did us proud again although I took a wrong turn and we had a slight detour but again we arrived at the venue in plenty of time.
The venue was another former church and the staff were very polite and helpful. The venue had been bombed during the second world war, what actually happened was a dud fell through the ceiling which failed to go off.
Again myself and Alan were asked if we wished to dine of which we both said yes please, at this point some confusion appears to have set in myself, Alan and a very popular and famous flautist ordered the Mexican Chicken on a bed of cous cous, Alan had to attend to setting up his stall whilst I waited for our meals to arrive
Its at this point a nice member of staff appeared with two Mexican Chickens on a bed of cous cous and a rather hungry John Hackett ended up getting served with Alan’s dinner. I have since learned that I like Mexican Chicken, but not cous cous.
The gig was just like the others before it; at the end of the gig I and Alan were the guests of his friend Jeremy Brown and Jeremy’s mum two wonderful hosts who kept myself and Alan extremely well fed (with Steak on a pizza) and watered to a level I have not experienced since.
Carnglaze Caverns Cornwall, Friday 8th April 2005
The next morning and it dawned on me that it was the day of gig in Cornwall, that and the fact I had some fair amount of driving a head of me, Again myself and Alan were fed well and we set off with Jeremy in the car with us.
We arrived in Cornwall and we found somewhere to eat, tonight’s venue was a cave literally and so we had Cornish Pasty Chips and Beans before we made our way to the venue.
The Venue it turned out was a former Slate mine which was all dug by hand no blasting with explosives, and then when it had become unviable to mine it became a Rum store for the Navy during world war two.
Alan, myself, Steve Hackett and also Roger king along with some others were given a tour of the Caverns and some history and geological information on the Venue which was quite interesting.
The venue was cold a nice ten degrees centigrade, some friendly faces were in audience, Narnia Lady and her husband greeted us again as did Steve Hammond from the Genesis forum also. The venue owner is also the venue compare and he came on stage with a rather funny comment “Don’t worry about switching off your Mobile phone’s, If you can get a signal in here I will give you a pint for free at the bar”. Sadly no one was able to rise to the challenge.
The gig was very pleasant and it awoke the resident bat. I got some nice photos and Steve kept his jumper on and had an electric blower heater pointing in his general direction all gig as it was blooming cold in there, As the venue was so cold time soon flew and it wasn’t before long that I was back in the driving seat heading back to Bristol and then on to Coventry. (I must sincerely thank Jeremy for helping out with the driving on the way home)
I had a day off and I was instructed by Alan to meet him at the Wulfrun hall in Wolverhampton for the next leg of driving
Wulfrun Hall Wolverhampton, Sunday 10th April 2005
Sunday, I went to a sports shop and I bought a new cricket bat, what had made it do it was simple, Whilst at home I watched Spinal Tap (in the movie in various scene’s there manager IAN has a cricket bat with him at all times) and I thought wouldn’t it be nice if Alan had a cricket bat signed by the band and crew as a memento of this tour. I then made my way to venue and had a lovely Sunday Lunch (Roast Chicken) that day.
There was some banter flying around the table (thanks to the crew and some of the band) about some previous gigs and some humorous stories which made me laugh, Alan arrived and I greeted him and I started taking photos.
Time came for the fans to enter the hall, Mikes mince pies (Richard Nagy) appeared and we had a brief chat, Soon enough the lights were coming down and I began to wonder how the cricket bat was doing as I had handed it to Steve’s manager Billy to be taken into the dressing room and to be signed. Its at this stage folks that I will make a point of saying although I had an All Access pass BUT I always felt that the dressing room was off limits and so that’s how I behaved on the whole tour.
This gig was eventful, it seems some of the paying public didn’t read the posters and tickets advertising the event as an Acoustic performance, one guy was ejected from the venue before the end of the 1st half as he was rather disruptive.
Towards the end of the performance I left my seat and made my way to the merchandise desk and Alan was there, it’s at this point a rather angry and alleged fan started making comments that it wasn’t the Steve Hackett performing up there that he knew? This puzzled Alan and me as we were quite sure that it was.
The fan soon left cursing the night air, I went off into the venue to seek out Billy and to find out how the Cricket bat was doing, Billy brought it up to me and I held it behind my back and I got some strange looks from the venue staff, I then presented it to Alan who was surprised and taken aback.
After all of that, Alan’s plans had changed and so I wasn’t to take him to Norwich, a decision I think he regretted after taking nearly seven hours to get there from Birmingham.
The Stables Milton Keynes, Wednesday 13th April and Thursday 14th April 2005
I met Alan the next time at Milton Keynes Coach station and we proceeded to the venue, I got lost and then I retraced my steps, luckily in usual fashion I was early and so was Alan.
We got to the venue and the band and management were ahead of us, We were greeted by a member of staff of the venue whom dismissed our Laminate A,A, Passes as fakes that anyone could forge and then once our presence was confirmed by Billy we were issued by the same member of staff stick on cloth passes which any child would have had no issue in copying.
Its at this venue the staff forbid me to take photos, even though I had a Double A pass something of which has confused me to this day, mind you they didn’t have a problem with there own member of staff (who was easily 6ft 6inch in height) taking photos of Steve, and who promptly got in the way of the paying public.
After all that fuss, I realised the venue was awfully hot and I dozed off for what I can only assume was 20 minutes “Sorry Steve “.
It was nice to meet Simon Funnel the guy behind the Genesis movement website, on both nights, and it was nice to meet Tony Patterson of Regenesis and the John Hackett band at the last night of the two days Steve performed at Milton Keynes.
The second of the two dates at Milton Keynes and Alan had arranged to Interview Steve and his acoustic trio, of which comprised of John Hackett and also Roger king. The interview appeared in issue 56 of TWR but I was invited along to the interview which was an exprience, I pretty much sat through it although I do believe I asked a couple of questions and made a rather cheeky remark which I believe was published in the interview.
Alan stayed at my home on the first night and he decided to return home after the 2nd night, as there was a gap (day off) before the date at Barking.
The Broadway, Barking, Friday 16th April 2005
I arranged to meet Alan again at the Milton Keynes Coach way as it’s on the way to Barking and it made it easier than having to find him at Victoria Coach Station.
We made our way to the venue, I stopped at Tesco’s for some bites to eat, and I also managed to go around in circles right near the venue. (note to Barking Council please sign post this venue better from the A406)
We found it at last, and we made our way in. Quite soon the merchandise desk was prepared and the merchandise various CD’s DVD’s, Tour T shirts and Polo Shirts and tour programmes were all available for the Fans to invest there money in.
Its at this stage an eager fan appeared, I wasn’t to know this at the time but it was Glyn Protheroe the original Regenesis front man, Alan instantly recognised him and they both reminisced over old times and there involvement with Steve Hackett.
After what seemed like an hour, Steve Hackett’s Rock tour bassist appeared non other than Terry Gregory and his lady friend, Terry recognised Alan and I, We got a chatting during which I asked him about how he performed the broken leg dance seen on the backstage in Budapest which is an extra on the Once above a Time DVD which he happily demonstrated for me.
I also met Lensman from the Genesis forum, and a guy called Dominic who had released an album called Cerulean blue which the Sound Engineer on the tour had been using to test the PA during the tour.
The time to make our way to the seats came, and Alan and I had a great view of the stage, I settled in and started to take photos some of which look quite nice.
The Trio during one of the more emotional moments of the show (Photo Credit, Mark Kenyon – Editor)
I really enjoyed this gig I knew I only had a short drive back to the hotel and so I think I relaxed more.
When the gig ended Steve and the band continued the meet and greet and signing session, I had two photos which I wanted signing which I got signed.
By the time the last fan had left Alan and I were looking forward to a good nights sleep. Upon returning to the car I realised it had been broken in and the Stereo was taken, I dealt with this as the Police were less then helpful, I also found out that Abacab was in the Stereo which they had stolen. Sadly crime being what it is the suspect was never caught it was almost as if the police had a lack dismal attitude and that’s when you consider that there are TWO huge CCTV camera’s over looking 99% of the car park.
Next morning I had breakfast and we headed over to the TWR webmasters home as the gig at Barking was my last night on the tour, Once I had dropped off Alan I was invited down to the Crown for lunch and I ordered the Cod in Ale batter and that treacle pudding.
That over and done with (it was very nice by the way) I left Alan in the hands of the TWR webmaster basically I passed on the baton, which in this case was Alan. I headed home as I was not able to get my window fixed before I got home I had a rather windy drive up the M40, I was later told the gig at the Croydon Fairfield Hall was just like the rest of the tour in the sense it ran perfectly and I was even told that although I had handed over the baton the crew and management thought I would attend the last night anyway.
Having got home and recuperated I looked all through the photos and I even added up all the miles that I had driven and the grand total was 1541 miles in less than 10 days.
Steve Hackett 2005 tour driving and miles
- Coventry to New Malden 118 miles, New Malden to Chiddingfold 34 miles, Chiddingfold to Brighton 73 miles
- Brighton to Coventry 157 miles, Coventry to Worcester 43 miles, Worcester to Coventry 43 miles
- Coventry to Bristol 93 miles, Bristol to Liskeard 133 miles, Liskeard to Coventry 223 miles
- Coventry to Wolverhampton 34 miles, Wolverhampton to Coventry 34 miles, Coventry to Milton Keynes 50 Miles
- Milton Keynes to Coventry 50 Miles, Coventry to Milton Keynes 50 Miles, Milton Keynes to Coventry 50 Miles
- Coventry via Milton Keynes to Harlow 120 Miles, Harlow to Barking 20 Miles, Barking to Harlow 20 Miles
- Harlow to New Malden to drop Alan off 78 Miles, New Malden to Coventry home 118 miles
Total 1541 miles
Not taking into consideration getting lost, or the distance from the venue once at the town/city it was being held at.
Non of the venue’s are sign posted properly something which you would think a local authority/council would do so in order to attract more tourism to some of these venues.
The well behaved Audi (Photo Credit, Mark Kenyon – Editor)
My 1993 K Reg Audi 80 TDI Saloon never missed a beat on the whole tour and managed to start first time every time it was needed to, you know something, even though some nights and days I was tired I would do it all again without a shadow of a doubt.
First Set: Steve Hackett only
- Classical Jazz
- Cuckoo Cocoon
- Black Light
- Andante In C
- Tribute To Segovia
- Bay Of Kings
- Classical Jazz (variation of Mason William’s Classical Gas)
- Skye Boat Song
Second Set: The Acoustic Trio
- Jacuzzi, Bacchus/Firth Of Fifth
- Whole Tone Improvisation
- The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
- Hand Of The Priestess
- After The Ordeal
- Hairless Heart
- Second Chance
- Jazz On A Summer’s Night
- Next Time Around
- The Journey
- Ace Of Wands
- Walking Away From Rainbows
- Gnossiene No 1
- Steve Hackett – Acoustic Guitar
- John Hackett – Flute
- Roger King – Keyboards
- Tigger Matthews – Lighting
- Billy Budis – Live Sound
- Ben Fenner – Live Sound and Recording (At the QEH only)
Thanks to Alan for the opportunity in the first instance although I think by the end of the tour I had earned it although I will state here and now Alan is always generous and fair with costs in terms of sharing them in this case diesel and hotel accommodation, He also proved very resourceful in obtaining through a network of his friends and acquaintances a fine nights sleep with fine food courtesy of Jeremy Brown and his Jeremy’s mother.
A BIG thank you to Steve, John Hackett as well as Roger King and Billy Budis, Ben Fenner and especially Tigger whom was quite good fun to chat with about his career in the aspect of lighting. Thanks to some of the member’s of the Genesis official forum who I met or rekindled a friendship with whilst on this tour.
For more information about Steve Hackett please visit HACKETTSONGS.COM