Review – Djabe & Steve Hackett – Live in Györ – by John Wenlock-Smith

I guess most musicians have the need for another outlet for their talents, whether that comes via guest appearances, collaborations or side projects. Think of projects like GTR or Squackett ,which both feature Steve Hackett in a role very different to his own solo career. Steve has always looked for such opportunities and, when he guested on an early album by the Hungarian jazz/rock band Djabe, ‘Sheafs Are Dancing’, in 2003, Steve enjoyed the experience so much that he was happy to appear with Djabe in 2004 in London. Their friendship continues to this day with both acts working together to create a whole raft of excellent releases, a lot of which are live sets captured in Djabe’s native Hungary and Sardinia, among others. This meeting of kindred spirits extends to Djabe band members appearing on Steve’s own albums regularly, with their own world jazz stylings helping Steve explore different sounds and textures.

Djabe are all very accomplished musicians in their own right and their work with Steve Hackett is certainly a symbiotic relationship with both parties benefiting. This new 2CD & Blu-Ray set ‘Live In Gyor’ certainly proves the point, containing, as it does, several tracks from the ‘Back To Sardinia’ and ‘The Magic Stag’ albums, alongside selected Genesis songs and Steve Hackett solo tracks. What is very apparent from the start is just how this outside role elevates Steve’s own playing, with some very tasty, expressive and fiery guitar on show, the band are on excellent form and all seem to be relishing the experience.

The album that accompanies the Blu-Ray is a very fine one too with three extra live tracks that round the set out. For me, the one noticeable difference is that, on this show, Steve is playing a Fernandes guitar with a floating bridge/tremolo so he can really hit the whammy bar vigorously, which he does to great effect throughout. Normally Steve uses his Gold Top, so this change is an interesting one, the sound is immaculate and enjoyable to hear and watch, the visuals being equally as strong. If you have ever wondered if Steve can repeat the epic solo on Firth of Fifth on a strategy style guitar the answer is here, you can watch him do it with style, alongside seeing his famous tapping style, a skill that Eddie Van Halen utilised and elevated to an art form.

Also worth of note is the extremely dextrous bass playing of Djabe’s Tamás Barabás, whose playing is the anchor on which everyone can pivot, along with Gabor Olah on drums. Together they hold everyone together and give them a perfect solid platform from which to soar and fly. Seldom have I witnessed such sheer joy like this excellent and skilled performance. It’s such a strong set with  chance for everyone to shine, the music is world jazz music with Hungarian touches and instrumentation. This excellent set offers lots of extra features and extra music and I can’t recommend it enough as it really is an excellent set of performances with songs played by musicians who are at the top of their game and not afraid to let the music do the talking. This music certainly talks loudly and demands your attention.

As with a lot of these Djabe/Hackett sets there is a degree of overlap but, even so, there is enough new stuff to make this an essential and worthy purchase. As always the packaging and attention to detail is very impressive as, of course, is the sound which is exemplary with great separation and clarity. The whole show is beautifully captured and must have been truly magnificent and unique.

No doubt there will be more to come from this union and I personally  am very hopeful for further magic from these hugely talented parties. So, my advice is to get a hold of this great set as soon as possible and appreciate seeing some masters at work. Play and enjoy it in the confines our your own home and let the music tell its own joyful story for you. This really is a most worthwhile album especially if you like world music, jazz/fusion, Steve Hackett or even all three!

Released 28th April, 2023.

Order from Cherry Red here:

Djabe & Steve Hackett: Live In Gyor, 2CD & Blu-Ray Edition – Cherry Red Records

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