One of the best live albums of all is a superlative but truth. Rarely appears a combination of superstars not to jam but to play full show. Thanks to mr. Hackett, this happened. Steve's cohort Julian Colbeck and maestro himself got off to Japan accompanied by Chester Thompson, Ian McDonald and John Wetton. Sound quality is stunning and exactly that, needed not to miss any precious note from the band. Audience are on their toes from the opening chords of "Watcher Of The Skies". Wetton's voice really shines in it, much more than on "Genesis Revisited" and there should be no comparisons with Pete or Phil because this version rocks with another dimension given by John's pumping bass and Ian's flute in soft spots. Breathtaking it is. Steve plays perfectly as always and is more a band member rather than soloist. Well, he was all for it but the friends step back for "Riding The Colossus", a light instrumental with Beethoven tones.
Wetton dramatically breaks into "Firth Of Fifth", another GENESIS tune he already handled on the studio album. "Let it be revealed"? It is, the guitar singing alongside with John. Julian's piano and Ian's reed get in for the central part to be battled by the bass and Chester's cymbals - then Steve breaks in, tension grows at full swing... And peace's restored by completely new guitar solo, thus leaves "Selling England" original far behind. Behind the battlelines, as Wetton puts it. "Battlelines" played by this band has more impact than all other versions John came up with on his live albums. Hackett surely adds his touch to it. Next, we hear Steve introducing his buddies before storming into "Camino Royale", where his axe is supported by McDonald's sax playing in unison. The piece seems to be more jazzy with every live treatment, not to mention guys joining in for chorus. Maybe, it's only a fool who learns to get through, but these musicians know the trick oh so well. Sax rockets to the sun and Steve pulls out his harmonica to provide a frenetic blues. Bass grooves, keyboards sprawl all around - a feast of sound.
And is there a better place for feasts than kings' courts? As a nod towards Ian's songwriting skills (and Wetton's past, too) in set present "In The Court Of The Crimson King". It's smoother without Fripp's hard edge exchanged for Steve's liquid guitar. Not so epic as well but McDonald blows a gentle solo on his flute giving "The Court" a new twist, a new horizon. Had Steve not played his acoustic highlight "Horizons" that night, everybody would feel robbed. In the right mood, in was a right time for "Walking Away From Rainbows" too. From rainbows - and into "Heat Of The Moment" Wetton cut a while ago for ASIA. For this show John chose a stripped bare slow version with only acoustic guitar and keyboards' thin background (spot the lyrics again changed for a proper year to be mentioned). Majestic it is and even more when Hackett starts weaving his spell into it to go straight into "In That Quiet Earth" - again with supportive flute and a newly added free sax. Harmony guitar bounces in "Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite", an arguable stage favourite Steve turned the song into by his beloved harmonica. That was John's turn to have some touches of his, which he did with a great pleasure.
A time came for Ian McDonald to go to the front and sing "I Talked To The Wind". Ian, never a solid singer, delivered, anyway, the most sincere take on the famous CRIMSO's ballad. Once back to the world of magic, Hackett takes off the vintage gem, which "Shadow Of The Hierophant" is. Extremely rarely played, the epic lost none of his catchiness with time. Some intensity, maybe, yet it's compensated by Thompson's drum solo leading to "Los Endos", stronger than before due to Ian and John and jazz they made. And it's not the end of the show... Encores are "Black Light" as exqusite live as in studio, "The Steppes", now not as heavy, and - yeah! - "I Know What I Like". Bet, no one expected this smash - especially to be sung in three voices and in such a cheeky way!
Wish we were there that evening to relive it and relish while listening to "The Tokyo Tapes". One way or another, Steve has a gift for absent friends - two new studio tracks, elaborate "Firewall" and "The Dealer", groovy but atmospheric. European copies have video bonuses, my Japanese version doesn't boast of, sporting instead "Los Endos" in its "Revisited" variant.