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John Hackett BandJohn Hackett Band
Album: We Are Not Alone
Label: Cherry Red
Tracks: 28

Whilst visiting family in Leeds recently , I happened to notice that the John Hackett Band were playing locally at the Seven Arts Centre. Could this be the same John Hackett who plays flute on albums by his brother Steve, I asked myself? A quick search revealed that this was indeed the same John Hackett , so I booked tickets for the show immediately. This was an extremely good move as we were treated to an exceptional performance by John and his hugely talented band, which consists of John on flute [naturally] and keyboards; Nick Fletcher [guitar]; Jeremy Richardson [bass guitar and vocals] and Duncan Parsons on drums.

The band were touring in support of their new album "We are Not Alone" , which was released at the end of September on the Esoteric Antenna imprint of Cherry Red Records.

As well as the nine-track new album , the package includes a second disc, "Another Live" , which was recorded at the Classic Rock Society in May 2016.

When I saw the JHB I was immediately impressed by their sheer virtuosity. In Nick Fletcher they have an amazing guitarist who is up there with the best in the business and the rhythm section of Jeremy and Duncan have an almost telepathic empathy.

So what do the John Hackett Band sound like , you may ask? In reply, I would say that they are an inventive, melodic , progressive rock band from roughly the same general area as bands like Caravan, Camel and even Focus. Four of the nine tracks are instrumentals and of the five songs, four were written by John.

The album gets off to a cracking start with John's two-part "Take Control" with its frenetic flute riff and some delightfully liquid guitar from Nick.

"Never Gonna Make A Dime" is a catchy, straight-ahead rock number which features John's brother Steve on harmonica [of all things!]. Again, Nick Fletcher shines with some beautifully fluid guitar.

"Blue Skies Of Marazion" is a truly gorgeous instrumental duet between John on flute and Nick on classical guitar.

This is clearly a democratic band as all members get writing credits. Nick's "Ossian's Lament" is another beautiful classical guitar piece , adorned with John's evocative flute and mellotron . Nick also wrote the contrasting closing track , "Winds Of Change", an epic , eight-minute instrumental on which he and John get to stretch out on guitar and flute respectively. For lovers of prog-rock [such as me] this is pure delight and shows just what a fantastic band this is.

"Queenie & Elmo's Perfect Day" is an intriguing instrumental written by drummer Duncan Parsons which features some unusual time signatures and solos by all members of the band but heavily features bass player Jeremy Richardson. Jeremy's compositional [and lead vocal] contribution is "Jericho" , a rock number about a place that he clearly doesn't like [ "Burn bridges, tear the walls down"].

Just as I did when I saw them play live, I really enjoyed this album by the John Hackett Band. If you can , go and see them live [ they're on at the Cluny2 , Newcastle on 28th October or Bodega, Nottingham on 11th November] .

Peter Cowley