Review – Steve Hackett – Under a Mediterranean Sky – by John Wenlock-Smith

We are now into the second year of this wretched virus, this time last year we were eagerly looking forward to a holiday we had booked to Italy in Sorrento with a view across the water to Pompeii.

This was, of course, cancelled by the virus and we watched in horror as Italy became the focus of the world, the virus spreading around the country and then globally. Obviously, this has had a massive impact on our abilities in what we can do, where we can go, all events have pretty much been cancelled leaving touring activities curtailed with most musicians left high and dry, unable to do anything really which has in turn led to a raft of new music being created. This new album from Steve Hackett being amongst that number.

This being Steve Hackett, he has done something rather different from the norm in that he has created an acoustic album, his first since 2007’s ‘Tribute’. This is an album of instrumental mood pieces, themed around travels that Steve has made in recent times.

The album opens with the epic song M’dina – The Walled City with a similar sound to those used on the Fallen Walls and Pedestals from Steve’s ‘At the Edge of Light‘ album of 2018. The big difference here being that, instead of a bold electric guitar, this is all performed on acoustic guitar, backed by the expansive and atmospheric keyboard orchestrations of Roger King. This piece is almost a mini concerto in the style of the Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell (that was written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight which was concerned with the polish struggle in 1939 against Nazi Germany), Malta, itself, has seen its share of occupation by hostile forces, especially during World War 2 when the island was occupied by the Nazi’s.

Steve of is of Polish immigration historically as his grandparents escaped the pogroms of Poland in 1919 and the ethnic cleansing of the Jews. As such, he feels strongly about the rights of people who are being oppressed or persecuted, this piece reflects those feelings and conflicts using lots of orchestration that is intercut with gentle but evocative guitar runs from the fleet fingers of Steve.

Adriatic Blue is a far more mellow piece with chiming guitar lines and some delicately plucked finger-style playing. Sirocco then follows, bringing to mind the wonders of Egypt, Jordan and other desert lands. Steve has been to the Pyramids in Cairo, along the Nile and also to Petra in Jordan and this song reflects those travels with ethnic percussion elements amongst the orchestration and a decidedly Arabian swing and feel to this piece. It is all very evocative of distant lands and of Arabian nights in the desert under the skies and stars of the region. This really is an excellent and emotive piece that acts as an imagined journey for the listener to those lands full of imagery and magic.

Joie De Vivre  is a reflection in the joy of life that travelling offers, a chance to escape an everyday world by taking or making voyages of adventure, exploring different cultures and ways of life and the feelings of freedom that these voyages provide. As listeners who are unable to travel at the present time, these musical pictures offer relief to the humdrum existence we are all under until this blasted virus has been curtailed and we have been inoculated against so that we can resume our everyday lives.

The Memory of Myth is a further invocation of the sounds and senses of desert lands and the mystery and magic of these desolate places that have remained largely unchanged for millennia. The evocative violin of Christine Townsend underpins the whole track, really adding to the mysterious aura.

Scarlatti Sonata is a piece that Steve has composed in honour of Domenico Scarlatti who was an Italian composer in the 17th Century. Born in Naples in 1685 he was a composer in the Baroque style.He is known largely for his 555 keyboard sonatas and spent much of his life in the service of the Spanish and Portuguese royal families.

We are then treated to the very evocative piece The Dervish and the Djinn which includes contributions from Rob Townsend on Woodwind instrumentation that evoke imagery of whirling dervishes and their mischief. This is also a fine exponent of Steve’s fabulous guitar playing along with the added impact of drums that really creates an exciting mood picture. Lorato is a brief piece full of Spanish guitar flourishes with a fine melody that recurs throughout the track.

Andalusian Heart is another strong Spanish themed track with lots of Flamenco type playing throughout that reminds me of Steve’s guitar work on I Wish by Amy Birks (a track that he provided Spanish guitar for). This song has a similar feel to that song but without the vocals and is another very expressive and imaginative piece with the sumptuous orchestration giving sense of stately majesty.

The Call of the Sea is Steve’s reflections on staring across the Mediterranean Sea to distant lands and how this body of water connects us together, geographically, musically, and emotionally. It is another excellent piece of music that conveys its message without words and closes this rather different, but no less satisfying, album in fine style.

The cover of the album is in itself rather evocative, with its image of a wall overlooking the blue sea under a cloudless sky. It’s a beautiful image and one that fits in perfectly with this armchair voyage of musical discovery.

This album is so different to Steve’s usual output but, nonetheless, it is a journey of musical delights and very fitting and welcome at this strange time. As you can’t take a holiday at the present time, this is a worthy musical trip around the Mediterranean. Why not take this trip for yourself? you will feel better for it I’m sure.

Released 22nd January 2021

Order direct from the artist here:

Steve Hackett | Steve Hackett (hackettsongs.com)

Interview With Steve Hackett by John Wenlock-Smith

Steve Hackett talks about his new acoustic album ‘Under A Mediterranean Sky’, released on the 22nd January 2021.

John Wenlock-Smith: So how are you Steve, how’s lockdown been treating you and Jo?

Steve Hackett: It is a strange time, at least some of us will get vaccinated soon. I am okay, I have had a bit of kidney surgery recently, so am about 80 or 90% now able to play the guitar again now after leaving it for a month or so. My fingers are working fine, my hearing is working, oops better not jinx it all now though! How are you and yours doing in all this?  I’ve not caught it yet so hopefully all will be fine.

JWS: We are both fine, staying in and avoiding contact with anyone as much as we can. We had a Tesco delivery this morning so, yes, we are both doing ok really. So, let us talk about this new album of yours…

SH: Yes, ‘Under A Mediterranean Sky’, it’s been ready for a while, Jo says it was ready by June last year but I think it was actually a little earlier. We started it around March or April and it took a couple of months to complete and then suddenly it was all done.

The thing that takes all the time on rock albums are the vocals. Drums and, strangely, guitars don’t take that long that, maybe because I have a degree of proficiency in that department.

I don’t have to hire anyone in to do those parts but when, it comes to something like this, it’s basically one guitar, which you have to get your tone right for (and be able to play it) and then there are orchestrations by Roger King, who is proving himself to be somewhat of a genius in his arrangements and his engineering and musical skills.

JWS: I have had a listen to it and I have to say that it sounds particularly good indeed.

SH: I must agree and say that It does sound mighty fine indeed.

JWS: I watched a couple of the videos for the album too.

SH: You know what I think? I think its good for those that like that sort of thing but, if you want Van Halen or Buddy Holly then stop right there. However, it is a bridge between what the prog people might like and what the classical types might enjoy.

It’s an audience that I’ be happy to connect with. When I started doing classical stuff with the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ album (1997) I suddenly had people writing to me who obviously would never deign to listen to any rock and roll, wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole actually, and they were saying nice things.

I thought this is nice, people who listen to Radio 3 or Classic FM and the occasional Tchaikovsky album and learnt the piano at some stage of their life, they’re listening to my music. I thought this is nice, it is a different thing, a different strata of listener.

JWS: A different type of listening too perhaps?

SH: Yes, less leather jacket more Laura Ashley I Think?

JWS: For the ladies at least, floral dresses on blokes does not work, well it does not for me at least!

SH: Floral Guitars and decorations?

JWS: You obviously have travelled extensively through those areas in the past/

SH: Yes, it’s a musical journey, I hope it will take people there in spirit even if we can’t go there at the moment. I get Production copies of the album today, I always await that with eagerness as you can actually see the finished article. I listen on CD as you get the full bandwidth of sounds on that.

I don’t think that this will be a big one for Vinyl enthusiasts, I think it needs the purity of CD rather than the snap crackle and pop that vinyl gives, if retro is your thing that is.

On this album there is a piece I have composed for Domenico Scarlatti who was born in Naples in 1685 and was an Italian composer. He was primarily a composer for the harpsichord. On this album I have composed a composition called Scarlatti Sonata as a way of tribute to him.

So that is me, if I want to play a bit of Beethoven then I will or Chopin, Muse could and Keith Emerson used to do that, we used to talk about that all the time. It does not have to be current to be good.

I used to have a friend who was an art Critic and I asked him how he felt about Avant-Garde and he replied that if he was interested in it, he considered it to be Avant-Garde.

I mean Bach was a radical really, anyone who wrote the Italian concerto that has been a ball breaker for keyboard players evermore since has to be, funny that!

JWS: On this album you have some interesting pieces like M’dina, in Saudi Arabia?

SH: No, it’s the other M’dina, the walled city inside Valetta, the capital of Malta. It’s quite a long piece, a sort of mini concerto that’s probably closer in spirit to the Warsaw Concerto by Richard Adinsell (written for the 1941 Film ‘Dangerous Moonlight’ which was about the Polish Struggle against the Nazi’ Germany in 1939.) being a short piece of about 10-minute duration. This song, M’dina, has echoes of that, reflecting the way that Malta has been affected its occupation many times through different wars over the years.

JWS: I also Like Scirocco.

SH: I particularly like that one too, I like how the classical meets the cinematic element of it, I was going to say something else about it, an attempt to pair the Middle East with music and recollections of travels in those places, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan,  fantastic places that I’ve loved.

When I go to such places I tend to write things in my notebook. I don’t carry an instrument with me really because it’s too valuable and puts you at the mercy of airport baggage handlers, which is not something you really want, so it’s easier to record impressions in a notebook for reference at a later point.

I first went to Egypt many years ago and spent 24 hours in Cairo and visited the museum and the Sphinx and the Pyramids, of course. It is the spirit of things really. We went back to Egypt a few years ago and took a Nile cruise where you can really feel the history and the culture of the area.

I usually write the chords and the top line and Roger comes up with the rest, I think I am at the stage where I am ready to call him a genius! We went to Petra in Jordan and saw Lawrence’s pile of stones, there is lots of history there, we also rode with the Bedouin in the desert too.

JWS: I like the Andalusian Sky track too.

SH: You like the orchestral ones?

JWS: I like that they evoke a feeling of a place.

SH: It is the interaction between us that makes it work.

JWS: Where did you find Roger?

SH: Originally, he was just a name in the phone book! He was a composer with a background in Film Music who had worked on the movies Cliffhanger and In The Name Of The Father, so that is where he came from. I think for much of it he was uncredited, often the way with folks like Michelangelo and his acolytes who painted much of the Sistine Chapel.

JWS: I was watching the video’s last night and thought that you would be good at doing one of those type of programmes.

SH: I really enjoy watching those type of programmes and had thought that I would like to do that, standing there talking about things that I know a little about.

JWS: Well, it has worked for Michael Palin and Steve Coogan!

SH: Yes, however I would rather be down with the locals finding out what they do, how they live and what they eat etc.

JWS: So what is next for You?

SH: Well, I have started work on the next album, although I have temporarily stopped due to this lockdown. I have got about 45 minutes done already, I have a shopping list of all sorts of things I want to do but it is not finished until it is finished.

There is quite a lot to live up to from recent albums, a house band, some great singers, it has been quite a big team of musicians from all around the world. some great singers and musicians all working together and I like to work as part of a team. It is a lot of fun to me, like a toy that I have never outgrown.

JWS: Yes, I think if you are not enjoying it then it is time to give it up!

SH: I agree and guitars in particular, I have only got to hear a guitar tone, it could even be someone else’s sound possibly from some time ago, the sound that I have heard in my mind and been striving to attain. When I find that tone then you have the vehicle to go anywhere you have imagine. This is the vehicle, the rocket, the boat, and that is the voyage that I want to take.

Review – Steve Hackett – Selling England By the Pound & Spectral Mornings Live at Hammersmith

This 2 CD / Blu Ray package is the latest release from the former Genesis guitarist who has, for the last 8 years, been repackaging and marketing his own version of his Genesis era history. Quite rightly so, when the rest of the original band are all doing decidedly different music these days.

This nostalgic revue is both commercially and musically viable and valid, people love these songs and Steve has both compiled a top notch supporting band and also tweaked the songs enough to bring their subtle tones and deep emotions to life. Steve’s tours invariably sell out and he has kept ticket prices to an affordable level thus making his shows accessible to many fans who may never have seen the original band. This latest release sees a return to Hammersmith after last year’s successful run of  shows under the ‘Selling England By The Pound‘ and ‘Spectral Mornings‘ banner.

What’s different this time is that Steve has a new drummer who has replaced the departing long term member Gary O’Toole. He had occupied the drum stool for nearly 20 years and, whilst this hasn’t changed the sound, it has brought a fresh power to proceedings. Craig Blundell is the new man behind the kit and he certainly makes his presence felt on this album, adding new flourishes and also forming a solid, reliable rhythm section with bassist Jonas Reingold and, in doing so, creating a platform for Steve’s guitar to soar freely.

The show is divided into two separate parts, part one being a mix of ‘Spectral Mornings’ tracks and including three tracks from Steve’s latest album, ‘At The Edge Of Light’, these being Under The Eye Of The Sun, Fallen Walls and Pedestals, and Beasts in Our Time. These add to the dynamics of the first half well, ‘Spectral Mornings’ being considered by many to be a crowning glory in Steve’s musical legacy or canon of recordings.

It’s an album that is certainly warmly received here at Hammersmith, the songs will be familiar to most so I don’t really need to comment on them to much except to state that all receive sterling performances here with contributions from both John Hackett on flute and Amanda Lehmann on guitar and vocals.

This section of the show is bookended with two of the tracks from ‘Selling England By the Pound’, namely, Dancing with The Moonlit Knight and an extended take on I Know What I Like, both of which are superb renditions, the latter giving Steve a chance to stretch out on the guitar.

The second part contains the remainder of SEBTP including an unreleased track, Déjà Vu, that was co-written by Peter Gabriel. Steve consulted with Peter who then gave his consent to a reworked, finished version and split the writing credits with Steve. As the track was omitted from the original album, its appearance here is most welcome indeed, it is a feisty and strong number that fits in well with the remaining tracks on SEBTP.

Also of note is the simply magnificent version of Firth of Fifth, a song that is as much about Steve as any other Genesis song. This is probably the best of the many live versions of this song that exist, somehow surpassing all the other versions including the orchestral version from last year’s Festival Hall recording, whilst that was great, somehow this is even better. I think that Craig Blundell’s drumming throughout gives the piece hitherto uncovered power, kick and bite and that elevates it above all the other takes released previously.

You could argue that every year brings a new release of old material and do we really need this one? My answer to that is a definitive Yes! These performances are from the heart and certainly satisfy demand and, whilst the original band are reluctant to perform these, Steve’s troop can certainly do so more than adequately and with conviction, power, dignity and grace. This set does that on every count, the blu-ray is a lovely addition and supplements the recordings with a crisp sound and sharp picture. The lighting used throughput the show is stunning and lighting operator Chris Curran certainly adds emphasis and dynamics in bringing his flair in making this a great visual show. This is made all the better with the sharpness that the blu-ray version delivers and the option of the 5.1 surround version that has been sympathetically mixed by Steven Wilson.  

If you have enjoyed any of Steve’s previous live sets, then I certainly recommend this one to you there is so much to enjoy and relive here.

Released 25th September 2020

Order direct from Steve’s website here:

http://www.hackettsongs.com/news/newsAlbum30.html

STEVE HACKETT Genesis Revisited – Band with Orchestra – TICKETS ON GENERAL SALE: Friday, 26th January

Following last year’s sell-out Genesis Revisited tour, prog icon and former Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett, announces a 6-date UK tour in October. Treating fans to many favourite Genesis and Hackett numbers, this time Steve and his band will be accompanied by a 41-piece orchestra.

The decision to undertake this tour was cemented following the critical success of last year’s one-off US performance of the Genesis Revisited music with his band and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the charismatic Bradley Thachuk.

It went down a storm with the audience and sounded amazing, with the orchestra adding even more texture and colour to these classic tracks, prompting Steve to want to perform more shows in this way. Such was the gusto and verve brought to the performance by conductor, Bradley Thachuk that he will fly over to the UK to conduct the October shows. This show promises to be a transcendent experience!

Steve explains, “I always hoped that the Genesis music would one day involve an orchestra and I’m proud to say I’ll now be able to make that dream a reality on my next British tour, involving my own extraordinary rock band alongside a full-sized orchestra.”

The show will feature some of Genesis’ best-loved songs, including Supper’s ReadyDancing with the Moonlit KnightFirth of Fifth and more. Steve will not be neglecting his remarkable solo repertoire and there will be tracks included such as Shadow of the Hierophant, El Niño and The Steppes.

Tour details are as follows: –

Monday, October 1st Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Wednesday, October 3rd Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Thursday, October 4th London Royal Festival Hall
Friday, October 5th Birmingham Symphony Hall
Sunday, October 7th Gateshead The Sage 1
Monday, October 8th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Tickets available from http://myticket.co.uk/ http://www.hackettsongs.com/ and venue box offices.

Joining Steve on the tour are his regular musicians Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes) with Nad Sylvan on vocals. They will be joined on this tour by Jonas Reingold from The Flower Kings on bass.

Review – The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth – by James R. Turner

The Mute Gods: ‘Tardigrades will inherit the Earth’

I had to do some googling to find out what a Tardigrade was, upon first reveal of the albums title I thought Tardigrades were what I achieved in my A levels all those dim and distant years ago, and it was ‘great my time has come’.

Upon reverting to the nearly always accurate Wikipedia it turns out a Tardigrade is not a D in media Studies but an odd looking water dwelling eight legged micro animal, sometimes known as water bears or moss piglets, it appears that these animals can survive in extreme conditions that would kill everything else, hence the title, which suggests that long after we’ve gone and done our damage to the worlds ecosystem, these little guys (no more than 0.5mm in length) will still be here.

Dark stuff indeed from the Mute Gods on their second album.

Following on from 2014’s ‘Do Nothing til you hear From Me’, Nick Beggs, Roger King and Marco Minneman have gone into even darker territory than on their debut.

Here Beggs and co are full of anger and despair at the current global situation, and this is reflected in some heavy musical passages, angry and impassioned vocals from Beggs and a musical sound that veers from outright darkness to shades of lighter music, where the mix of almost progressive metal turns on it’s head to a more melodic sound.

Having worked together as part of the Steve Hackett band, Beggs and King found a musical rapport that comes to fruition in the Mute Gods, and adding Minneman, who Beggs worked with in the Steven Wilson band, you find a musical collective who are so in tune with each other that it drives the music on.

Instead of utilising guest musicians, this record is firmly focused on the diverse and multi faceted approach that the three members bring to the table, a contemporary progressive power trio if you will. However there is none of the pomp and circumstance that you’d get from an ELP, or the look at me battle for supremacy that destroyed Cream.

Instead this is all about the music, and more importantly all about the songs on here. Tackling both his trademark Chapman stick and guitars on this album, as well as the vocals, Beggs is firmly at the forefront on this record, stepping away from the sideman role he does so well into the role of frontman, which he carries off with style and real musical presence throughout this record, the sublime sound of his guitar and bass on tracks like The Dumbing of the Stupid is one of the defining sounds of this record.

Roger Kings keyboard, guitar work and production make this a sonically adventurous release, with some real beautiful musical peaks, this is not a record for the faint hearted by any stretch, if however you want your horizons broadening and your music and lyrics full of inconvenient truths, then this is for you.

Drumming powerhouse Marco Minneman is the driving force on this record, his mighty drum sound thundering through like the hammer of Thor, as tracks like the first single We Can’t Carry On demonstrate.

The heaviness is reined in on tracks like the Early Warning, which has a melodic feel to it, not dissimilar to Lifesigns debut (which Beggs was an integral part of).

The title track has an 80’s vibe to it, with a fantastic guitar line some classic synth sounds and great vocals by Beggs, this is probably the closest to a single on the album, and one which mixes Beggs pop and prog sensibilities to create a superb song. Highlight for me on the album has to be the wonderful The Singing Fish Batticaloa with its superb vocals, and the way it grows into a moving anthemic modern prog song, is sheer ecstasy for the ears.

This album pulls no punch when it comes to painting a picture of the state of the world currently, and there are some people out there (mainly on Facebook & twitter) who think that artists shouldn’t comment on what’s happening in the world, I say why not? Some of the greatest art and music has come from a time of trouble and darkness in the world, and there’s no point our musical heroes going all ostrich on us and ignoring the current global climate of hatred and fear.

This makes this album an uneasy listen, but when it’s wrapped up in such intense and well crafted music and a superb production that allows the songs to shine, this is something you have to hear, whether you like the message or not.

Released February 24th 2017

Buy ‘Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth’ from Burning Shed’s Inside Out Store

Steve Hackett: The Night Siren – New Album

Guitar virtuoso and rock legend, Steve Hackett (formerly of Genesis), releases his latest album The Night Siren on 24th March 2017 through InsideOut Music (Sony).  As implied in the title, The Night Siren is a wake-up call… the warning of a siren sounding in this era of strife and division.

‘The Night Siren’ showcases Steve’s incredible guitar as strongly as ever, along with musicians from several different countries who Steve invited to join him in celebrating multicultural diversity and unity.  This includes singers from Israel and Palestine, who both actively campaign to bring Jewish and Arabic people together.  There are also instrumentals from the USA and Iraq and a multiplicity of sounds, including the exotic strains of Indian sitar and Middle Eastern tar and oud, the ethnic beauty of the Peruvian charango and the haunting Celtic Uilleann pipes.

Steve is widely travelled, making friends everywhere he goes and has always embraced multicultural diversity.  In these times of unrest, he has been inspired to express his belief that the world needs more empathy and unity.  His wish to involve a range of musical sounds, instruments, musicians and singers from different parts of the world is both a development of his eclectic approach to music and shows how people can be brought together, even from war torn regions.

Talking about his latest work, Steve says, “This latest waxing represents a bird’s eye view of the world of a musical migrant ignoring borders and celebrating our common ancestry with a unity of spirit, featuring musicians, singers and instruments from all over the world.  From territorial frontiers to walled-up gateways, boundaries often hold back the tide.  But while the night siren wails, music breaches all defences. To quote Plato, ‘When the music changes, the walls of the city shake’.”

 The musical journey takes us from ‘Behind the Smoke’, focusing on the plight of refugees throughout the ages, to the penultimate track ‘West to East’ which reflects on the damage of war and the hope for a better world. From personal to universal, the themes celebrate the life force, breaking free from chains of repression.

Full Track Listing:-

  1.      Behind the Smoke
  2.      Martian Sea
  3.      Fifty Miles from the North Pole
  4.      El Niño
  5.      Other Side of the Wall
  6.      Anything but Love
  7.      Inca Terra
  8.      In Another Life
  9.      In the Skeleton Gallery
  10.    West to East
  11.    The Gift

In addition to singers Kobi and Mira (Israeli and Palestinian), also featured on the album are Nick D’Virgilio (drums) from the USA, Malik Mansurov (Tar) from Azerbaijan & Gulli Breim (drums & percussion) from Iceland, along with regular Hackett collaborators: Roger King, Nad Sylvan, Gary O’Toole, Rob Townsend and Amanda Lehmann.  Additional musicians who add to the rich flavour of the album are Christine Townsend (violin & viola), Dick Driver (double bass) and Troy Donockley (Celtic Uilleann).

Steve Hackett is returning with an exciting new show Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett for a 15 date UK tour in April 2017.  Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic Genesis album Wind and Wuthering, Steve and his band will be performing several tracks from the album as well as fan favourites such as ‘The Musical Box’ and other Genesis numbers never performed before by Steve’s band including ‘Inside & Out,’ ‘One For The Vine’ and ‘Anyway’ as well as material from The Night Siren.

 

Tickets available from www.myticket.co.uk

‘The Night Siren’ will be released through Inside Out Music on 24th March in the following formats:

Special Edition CD/Blu-Ray Mediabook featuring 5.1 surround sound mix & making of documentary: 88985410452

Standard Jewel case CD: 88985410462

Gatefold black 2LP vinyl + CD: 88985410471

Digital Download

www.hackettsongs.com

@hackettofficial

https://www.facebook.com/stevehackettofficial/

 

Steve Hackett Announces 2017 Tour including tracks from Wind and Wuthering, new album & Genesis revisited

steve-hackett-credit-cathy-poulton-2017-lo-res

 

Former Genesis guitarist and prog legend Steve Hackett is returning with an exciting new show for a 15 date UK tour next spring after his outstanding performance at this year’s inaugural Stone Free Festival.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic Genesis album Wind and Wuthering, Steve and his band will be performing several tracks from the album as well as fan favourites such as ‘The Musical Box’ and other Genesis numbers never performed before by Steve’s band such as ‘Inside & Out’ and ‘Anyway’.

“I’m excited to bring my latest show involving a new set of Genesis and Hackett numbers to the UK in 2017!” – Steve Hackett

 With an established solo career spanning over 40 years, Steve will also be performing some of his popular hits such as ‘The Steppes’, ‘Serpentine’, ‘Every Day’ and the first ever live performance of ‘Rise Again’ from his 1999 album Darktown. Steve will also be introducing fans to new music from his forthcoming album, which is due out early spring 2017.

Joining Steve on the tour are musicians Roger King (keyboards), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes), Nick Beggs (bass, stick & twelve string) and Nad Sylvan on vocals.

Since the 1970’s Steve has had a remarkable musical career, releasing more than 30 solo albums, seven Genesis albums and working alongside Steve Howe of YES with supergroup GTR. Renowned for being one of the most innovative rock musicians of our time, in 2010 he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame.

Continuing to impress with his outstanding live shows ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ is a tour not to missed in 2017.

Tickets for UK shows go on sale on Friday 7th October at 10am from myticket.co.uk and venue box offices.    Dublin tickets go onsale on the same day at 9am.

2017 TOUR DATES

 April

 Wed 26th        Dublin, Vicar Street

Fri 28th            Cardiff, St. David’s Hall

Sun 30th         Reading, Hexagon

May

 Mon 1st           Birmingham, Symphony Hall

Wed 3rd          Sheffield, City Hall

Thurs 4th        Bristol, Colston Hall

Fri 5th              Manchester, Bridgewater Hall

Sun 7th           Liverpool, Philharmonic

Mon 8th           Portsmouth, Guildhall

Wed 10th        Southend, Cliffs Pavilion

Thurs 11th      Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

Sat 13th          Oxford, New Theatre

Sun 14th         Cambridge, Corn Exchange

Tues16th        Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall

Wed17th         Sage, Gateshead

Fri 19th            London, Palladium

www.hackettsongs.com

stevehackett_-tour-poster-2017-a3-lo-res

Review – The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me – By Shawn Dudley

Print

One of the many benefits of living within “the era of Steven Wilson” is in addition to his seemingly bottomless pit of musical projects and his excellent remixing work he also has quite a knack for surrounding himself with top-drawer musicians.

The multi-talented Nick Beggs immediately made his presence felt in Steven’s solo band, not just with his bass and stick playing, but his excellent backing vocals. He provides the harmonic anchor in very much the same way that John Wesley did in Porcupine Tree. When I first heard about The Mute Gods project I was intrigued to hear him take on the main vocal duties himself and the results were even better than I anticipated.

To complete the lineup for The Mute Gods he brought along Marco Minneman, his rhythm section partner from Wilson’s band and also keyboardist/producer Roger King (Steve Hackett) as well as additional contributions from session drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Gary O’Toole.

“Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” isn’t an actual concept album, but it does have a loose thematic element to it.  The topics include “hacktivists”, government surveillance, religious extremism, Internet trolls, general apathy and many other wonderful elements of life in the 21st century.  But to his credit Beggs mostly wraps these heavy topics in wonderfully accessible, melodic pop/prog confections, allowing the messages to come across without beating you into submission with negativity.

On my first listen to this album I was really surprised by how infectious it was, a very accessible pop/rock sound delivered with the type of sophistication expected from the artists involved. It made me realize that it’s a shame “mainstream rock radio” doesn’t really exist any longer, because I think many of these tracks would sound great while cruising down the highway with the radio blaring.

Press_Photo_07

The title track Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me sets the stage nicely.  After an extended keyboard intro (that had me temporarily flashing back to the early 80s) the main driving rhythm kicks in, propelled forward by a muscular bass pulse. In an alternate reality I could see an arena full of people jumping up and down to this groove and singing along with the anthemic chorus. This track stuck in my head like glue from the very first listen. Is is prog? Well, I suppose that’s debatable, but I don’t hear very many “mainstream” rock acts that have the subtlety and musical chops displayed here.

Praying To A Mute God keeps the vibe upbeat with an even more pop-oriented approach but veers off for a little display of instrumental dexterity in the proggy mid-section. This approach is repeated elsewhere on the album, short moments of progressive stretching out used to punctuate otherwise fairly straightforward compositions. The song always remains the focus.

My favorite tracks on the album are a couple of progressive rock gems on the second half; the lovely and ethereal Strange Relationship and the exotic-tinged atmosphere of Swimming Horses. Two of the longer cuts they give the band a chance to stretch out both compositionally and instrumentally. Roger King’s tasteful keyboard choices are worth note on these songs; he uses a nice balance of vintage and modern sounds, always providing just the right tone the composition requires.

Print

For contrast there are a few darker compositions on the album; Feed The Troll, Your Dark Ideas, the instrumental In The Crosshairs and Mavro Capelo. These tracks are a little heavier and a little more menacing, but are scattered throughout the tracklist so the mood never completely dominates. Of these the most successful is the deliciously dark and devious Feed The Troll, it’s menacing but playful at the same time, kind of like a cat toying with a mouse for a while before finishing it off. The only track that doesn’t quite work on the album is Your Dark Ideas; it comes off more silly than intense, but is partially redeemed by the instrumental mid-section and a particularly gonzo guitar solo.

Speaking of playful, there’s a track on here called Nightschool for Idiots (I’m pretty sure I was valedictorian). This song is the very definition of a grower.  When I first heard the album I’ll admit it irritated me to no end, I just found it too sweet, too syrupy, too cute…but with each subsequent listen I liked it more and more and now it’s one of my favorites. This song and Father Daughter stand apart from the rest of the album and feel more self-contained. Father Daughter is exactly what it says it is, a duet between Beggs and his daughter Lula Beggs, the lyrics forming a dialogue. It’s a touching and unique track.

All in all The Mute Gods isn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a very pleasant surprise nonetheless. I’m hoping we get a follow-up.

Released 22nd January 2016

Buy Do Nothing Till You Hear From me from Inside Out Music