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.

Steve Hackett announces the release of a new acoustic album – Under A Mediterranean Sky on 22nd January.

Iconic guitarist Steve Hackett, releases his new acoustic album Under A Mediterranean Sky on 22nd January 2021 as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD + LP-booklet and Digital Album via InsideOut MusicUnder A Mediterranean Sky is Steve Hackett’s first acoustic solo album since Tribute in 2008 and takes inspiration from Steve’s extensive travels around the Mediterranean with his wife Jo.

Working closely with long-time musical partner Roger King, Hackett has used his time during 2020’s lockdown to take us on an extraordinary musical journey around the Mediterranean, painting vivid images of stunning landscapes and celebrating the diverse cultures of the region. Famed for his rock roots with Genesis, and through his extensive solo catalogue, Hackett demonstrates the exquisite beauty of the nylon guitar at times venturing into the exotic ethnic and often supported by dazzling orchestral arrangements.

“A lot of acoustic ideas had been forming over the years, and it felt like the perfect time to create this album,” notes Hackett, “a time to contemplate the places we’ve visited around the Mediterranean with the kind of music which evolved from the world of imagination.

“Because we can’t really travel, substantially at the moment, I hope that the album will take people on that journey. Whether you sit down and listen to it or drift off to it with a glass of wine…”

Track Listing:
Mdina – The Walled City (Steve Hackett / Roger King)

Adriatic Blue (Steve Hackett)

Sirocco (Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett / Roger King)

Joie de Vivre (Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett)

The Memory of Myth (Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett / Roger King)

Scarlatti Sonata (Domenico Scarlatti)

Casa del Fauno (Steve Hackett / Roger King)

The Dervish and the Djin (Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett / Roger King)

Lorato (Steve Hackett)

Andalusian Heart (Steve Hackett / Jo Hackett / Roger King)

The Call of the Sea (Steve Hackett)

Our journey around the Med begins on the island of Malta, in Mdina – The Walled City. It’s imposing strength is portrayed by Roger King’s dramatic orchestration while Hackett’s guitar weaves through the atmospheric streets describing the creativity, love and strength that held Malta together between all the waves of conflict.

With Hackett’s delicate guitar work, Adriatic Blue paints an enchanting view of stunning scenery as tall cliffs of forested mountains plunge into the deep blue sea along the Croatian coastline. Sirocco is altogether more atmospheric, inspired by the winds playing through the imposing structures of Egypt.

The lively Joie de Vivre expresses the unique sense of joy the French have through their wine, food and folk music, with paintings reflecting family gatherings, spectacular vistas and the vibrant colours of their cities. The art of dreaming is embodied in their sensual love of life.

“At first hand, I’ve marvelled at the mystical whirling Dervishes,” says Hackett. Along with otherworldly beings such as the Djin (Genie) they sprang from Persia’s dreaming past. The Dervish And The Djin captures the extraordinary atmosphere of this most exotic of civilisations with the help of Hackett’s touring band regular – Rob Townsend’s soprano sax, the tar of Malik Mansurov (from Azerbaijan) and Armenian Arsen Petrosyan’s duduk. “Of course, those countries are virtually at war with each other,” Hackett adds, “and there has been something like a thousand casualties (at the time of writing) on both sides. Again, it’s a case of music being able to do things that politicians fail to do – something constructive.”

The Memory of Myth embodies the deep and rich history of Greece and features the violin of Christine Townsend (no relation) while Lorato – ‘love’ in the language of the African Tswana tribe – is a pretty folk tune. Love is the force that heals and links all disparate peoples of the Mediterranean.

Hackett and his wife Jo were enchanted by the little Faun statue in the House of the Faun, Pompeii. “The villas there seemed to come back to life as we walked through those wonderful atriums and gardens,” inspiring Casa del Fauno and featuring the light and airy flute of Hackett’s brother John and Rob Townsend on flute.

The only non-original piece is Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata. This embodies the Baroque music of Italy, a sensitive interpretation embellished with cross-string trills, a technique introduced to Hackett by the fine classical guitarist, the late Theo Cheng.

Hackett also expresses his admiration for the flamenco guitarists of Andalucía who are celebrated on Andalusian Heart“One of the flamenco guitarists was showing me the extraordinary things they are able to do,” Hackett explains. “Seeing the gypsies playing and dancing in caves there, you get the feeling that these people are dancing for their lives.”

Our journey comes to an end with The Call Of The Sea, a gentle and peaceful reflection of the vast body of water that unites the many civilisations both ancient and modern.

Under A Mediterranean Sky features Steve Hackett playing nylon, steel string and twelve string guitars, charango and Iraqi oud. Keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements are by Roger King. Featured musicians are John Hackett and Rob Townsend, flute (Casa del Fauno); Malik Mansurov, tar and Arsen Petrosyan, duduk & Rob Townsend, Sax (The Dervish And The Djin); Christine Townsend, violin (The Memory of Myth and The Call Of The Sea). All tracks were produced by Steve Hackett and Roger King with all tracks recorded and mixed by Roger King at Siren.

“I had a great time doing this album, seeing it take shape, and I’m very pleased with the outcome. I’m very proud of it,” says Hackett. “The nylon guitar has a very individual sound but, within the compass of what the nylon-strung guitar can do, there are a lot of different tones. You can do the full-on attack, the kind of salvo that you expect from the flamenco players but, at the same time, it can also be very gentle, gentle as a harp. It’s shades of black and white. It’s also exciting to play alongside instruments from around the world, as well as a wide range of orchestral sounds.”

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

A Genesis In My Bed Steve Hackett the autobiography publication date: 24th July 2020

July 2020 sees the publication of A Genesis In My Bed – the long overdue autobiography from guitar great and former member of Genesis, Steve Hackett.   As with his music, Steve has written a highly detailed, entertaining and embracing tome that charts his life in full, but with a firm emphasis on his years with Genesis that saw the band’s meteoric rise to become one of the most successful British bands of all time.

Steve talks candidly about his early life, his time with Genesis, and in particular his personal relationships with the other four band members, with great insight into the daily goings on of this major rock band.

Naturally, A Genesis In My Bed also regales stories of Steve’s career since leaving Genesis and the many different journeys that it has taken him on.   With his flair for the creative, and a great deal of levity, A Genesis In My Bed is also a riveting read.  Indispensable for Genesis fans but also essential for general music lovers and avid readers of autobiographies full of heartfelt and emotive tales.

1,000 copies individually numbered and signed by Steve are available to pre-order directly from the publisher & the artist:

https://www.wymeruk.co.uk/webshop/books/rock/genesis/a-genesis-in-my-bed/

https://store.hackettsongs.com

Ms Amy Birks announces debut solo album and single I Wish featuring guitar legend Steve Hackett

Ms Amy Birks is thrilled to announce her forthcoming self-produced debut solo album All That I Am & All That I Was which is to be released on April 3rd.

Winner of ‘Best Female Vocalis’ in the 2018 PROG Magazine poll and former lyricist, co-composer and lead vocalist of the 2017 Prog magazine Limelight Award winners Beatrix Players, the album which contains the singles Jamaica Inn and I Wish and features guest appearances from a raft of luminaries including Steve Hackett, John Hackett and Caroline Lavelle is available in two physical formats.

The second single to be taken from the album, I Wish, features Steve Hackett on acoustic guitar and a lyric based on the words of Christina Rossetti – poet, activist and the subject of some of the most famous paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The digital-only single is available now for streaming and download and also as an instant gratification track for fans making digital pre-orders of the album via iTunes.

I Wish is accompanied by a video featuring Amy and a mysterious Flamenco guitarist each represented in stunning origami stop motion piece, created by Susan Raybould (Origami Om) and pushed the boundaries of traditional origami design.

Amy produced most of her solo debut herself although the single was produced by Nick Wollage who is famed for his engineering on the soundtracks to dozens of major motion pictures including “Atonement”. He also worked on Tony Banks‘ “Seven (A Suite For Orchestra)”.
Birks recalls the process of recording the track and reflects on its unsettling lyrical undercurrents – 

“I feel very honoured to have worked with Steve Hackett & Nick Wollage. I wrote this song during a trip to Colombia where I was influenced by the classical guitar and percussive sounds of Bambuco. When I bumped into Steve at the Prog Awards, I asked him to play and he very kindly obliged. The Rossetti poem works perfectly as this is a dark lyric about the fragility of the mind and how the past can so very easily come back to tease and torment.”

For Amy ” this has been a really personal and full-on experience that has pushed me further, emotionally, technically and lyrically than I ever thought possible, which has enabled me to become the writer that I have been wanting to be.”

Pre-orders of special, limited edition All That I Am & All That I Was and vinyl formats are available now via The Merch Desk.Formats are: Limited edition CD package in a six panel 7″ gatefold sleeve accompanied by twelve page photo book available to mail order customers and from the merch stand at shows from 5th April while stocks last.

Vinyl album in 12″ gatefold sleeve. Initial copies of both formats ordered from The Merch Desk will be signed by Amy.

The album will also be available via all the usual download and streaming services.

The 2020 tour dates include a string of trio and quartet shows opening for That Joe Payne and the John Hackett Band and a rescheduled full band date in London celebrating the release of the album All That I Am & All That I Was. More dates featuring songs from both her debut album and Beatrix Players’ “Magnified” are to be announced in due course including an appearance at a major festival for fans of progressive music.

UK Tour Dates
Sat 7th March 2020 The Court Theatre, Tring (special guest of That Joe Payne), Sun 5rd April 2020 The Troubadour, London (Headline full band show), Fri 17th April 2020 The Acorn, Penzance (special guest of the John Hackett Band), Sat 18th April 2020 The Wharf, Tavistock Penzance (special guest of the John Hackett Band), Sat 25th April 2020 Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Southampton (special guest of That Joe Payne), Sat 23rd May 2020 The Met, Bury (special guest of That Joe Payne), Sat 30th May 2020 CCA, Glasgow (special guest of That Joe Payne), Sat 20th June 2020 Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (special guest of That Joe Payne), Fri 20th Nov 2020 Artrix, Bromsgrove (special guest of the John Hackett Band)

Since Beatrix Players’ final run of shows opening for Carl Palmer, Steve Harley and Big Big Train in 2017 – 2018 Amy has been recording her debut solo album and playing impromptu solo sets with the likes of Tim Bowness and That Joe Payne. Amy’s debut solo single “Jamaica Inn” was released on November 15th with a memorable video shot on location in Bodmin Moor.

Pre Ordershttps://themerchdesk.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=88_296
I Wish https://youtu.be/pf4F9jQVz_E
Jamaica Inn https://youtu.be/g_ji_1Sm2vE


Steve Hackett Announces Seconds Out Tour for November 2020

Off the back of his most successful solo tour yet, selling over 30 thousand tickets for his 2019 UK dates, Steve Hackett has announced that his 2020/21 World Tour will feature the whole of the 1977 Genesis live album Seconds Out in full, plus More!

Seconds Out was the hugely successful double album recorded on Genesis’ 1977 concert tour together with The Cinema Show, from their 1976 tour, and featured Steve Hackett on guitar alongside Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins who had taken on the role of vocalist following the departure of Peter Gabriel. The tour included music from each of the six studio albums from Steve’s time in Genesis and marked his final recordings with the band as he left to pursue his solo career upon its completion.

The Seconds Out + More! Tour will visit some of the venues Genesis played on that 1977 tour. There will also be additional material, including Steve’s solo concert favourite The Steppes to celebrate the 40th birthday of his fourth solo album Defector.

Steve Hackett says:  “I’m thrilled to bring Seconds Out back to life, featuring Genesis material at its most exciting and virtuosic, this time with all numbers played in full plus additional surprises!”

Full UK tour dates are as follows:

please note – highlighted shows are same venues as 1977 tour

Sunday 1 November                        Brighton                     Dome
Monday 2 November                       Cardiff                        St David’s Hall
Tuesday 3 November                      Stoke                          Victoria Hall
Thursday 5 November                    London                      The Palladium
Friday 6 November                          London                      The Palladium
Sunday 8 November                     Edinburgh                Playhouse
Monday 9 November                     Dundee                     Caird Hall
Tuesday 10 November                    Carlisle                       The Sands Centre
Thursday12 November                 Newcastle                O2 City Hall
Friday 14 November                        Scunthorpe               The Baths Hall
Saturday 15 November                   Bradford                     St George’s Concert Hall
Monday 16 November                   Southampton          Mayflower Theatre
Tuesday 17 November                    Cambridge                Corn Exchange
Wednesday 18 November              Oxford                        New Theatre
Friday 20 November                       Guildford                    G Live
Saturday 21 November                   Bexhill-on-Sea         De La Warr Pavilion
Monday 23 November                     Birmingham              Symphony Hall
Wednesday 25 November              Manchester               O2 Apollo
Friday 27 November                      Leicester                  De Montfort Hall

Saturday 28 November                   Basingstoke              Anvil
Monday 30 November                    Liverpool                    Philharmonic
Tuesday 1 December                      Glasgow                    Royal Concert Hall

Tickets for the Seconds Out + More Tour go on sale at 10am on Friday 29th November from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.

Steve Hackett Announces Release of New Studio Album – At The Edge of Light

Following the tremendous success of 2017’s The Night Siren (charted at #22 in Germany, #28 in the UK), legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett announces the release of his new studio album At The Edge Of Light on the 25th January 2019. The album which features ten songs, sees Steve unite a vast amount of styles ranging from guitar driven rock to epic orchestration, from world music to the reflective and atmospheric all brought together in Steve Hackett’s unique style.

Steve says: “In these dangerous times, deep shadows feel even sharper than usual and we find ourselves standing at the edge of light… The contrast between dark and light weaves its way throughout the album in many ways, from the sense of good fighting evil through to the interplay of dark and light opposites magically combining in cultures, including the heartbeat of India and primal tribal rhythms. Ultimately, this album embraces the need for all musical forms and cultures to connect and celebrate the wonder of unity in this divided world.”

At The Edge Of Light is released in a number of formats including a Mediabook CD plus extra DVD with 5.1 surround sound mix & behind the scenes documentary, double vinyl LP + CD, Jewel case CD and digital album.

Steve Hackett has established himself as one of Rock music’s finest and recognisable guitarists through his time with the legendary Genesis who he joined in 1971 and a solo career following his departure from Genesis in 1977 and is a hugely influential guitarist particularly in the Progressive Rock genre. At The Edge Of Light will be Hackett’s 26th studio album in a solo career that began in 1975 with the release of his debut solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte.

At The Edge Of Light was mainly recorded in Steve’s own studio but also around the world. The album features international artists, including Durga and Loreley of Pink Floyd vocal fame with drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Simon Phillips from USA, Sheema on sitar from India, Icelandic drummer/percussionist Gulli Briem, tar player Malik Mansurov and Swedish bass player Jonas Reingold… This album also features Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo, Rob Townsend on sax, bass clarinet and duduk, Amanda Lehmann on vocals, John Hackett on flute, drummer Gary O’Toole, Roger King and Ben Fenner on keyboards, Dick Driver on double bass, violinist and viola player Christine Townsend… All magically honed and engineered by Roger King.

Tracklist:
1. Fallen Walls And Pedestals
2. Beasts In Our Time
3. Under The Eye Of The Sun
4. Underground Railroad
5. Those Golden Wings
6. Shadow And Flame
7. Hungry Years
8. Descent
9. Conflict
10. Peace

The album is released shortly before Steve performs as special guest on the Cruise To The Edge in February 2019 and the On The Blue cruise featuring Justin Hayward, also in February.

Hackett recently played a series of Genesis Revisited shows with Orchestra and will perform two UK dates with acoustic sets in early December before touring Europe in April/May 2019 and has just announced a UK tour in November 2019 with a much anticipated “Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings & Album Highlights” set.

NOVEMBER 2019 UK TOUR DATES

 

Sat 02                   Aylesbury Waterside
Sun 03                  Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
Tue 05                  Sheffield City Hall
Wed 06                Cambridge Corn Exchange
Fri 08                    Leicester De Montfort Hall
Sat 09                   Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Mon 11                Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue 12                  Brighton Dome
Wed 13                Portsmouth Guildhall
Fri 15                    Salisbury City Hall
Sat 16                   Reading Hexagon
Mon 18                Birmingham Symphony Hall
Tue 19                  York Barbican
Wed 20                Bath Forum
Fri 22                    Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sat 23                  Gateshead The Sage
Mon 25                Edinburgh Usher Hall
Tue 26                  Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 27                Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Fri 29                    London Hammersmith Eventim Apollo
 
Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.
Press photo by Tina Korhonen

Steve Hackett Anounces Selling England By The Pound 2019 UK Tour

The irrepressible former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett announces his 2019 European Tour. Setting off on 2nd November 2019, Steve and his band will perform 20 shows around the UK.

For the first time ever, Steve will perform the seminal Genesis album Selling England By The Pound in its entirety. Released in 1973, the album went to No. 3 in the UK charts and has been described as “the definitive Genesis album.” It includes firm favourites such as Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Firth of FifthCinema Show and, of course, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). Other favourite classic Genesis tracks will also feature in the show.

2019 also marks the 40th anniversary of one of Steve’s most popular solo albums Spectral Mornings and Steve will rightly celebrate this milestone by performing masterpieces from the album.

Fans will also be treated to highlights from Steve’s new album, to be released in 2019.

Steve explains, “I’m thrilled to be performing the whole of my favourite Genesis album, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, which caught the attention of John Lennon in 1973. I felt that I was now playing guitar in the world’s best band, and everything was opening up for us… 

Also I look forward to playing all the favourite songs from SPECTRAL MORNINGS, marking its anniversary, plus new album tasters, as well as additional Genesis gems in a terrific grand slam!”

NOVEMBER 2019 TOUR DATES
Sat 02                   Aylesbury Waterside
Sun 03                  Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
Tue 05                  Sheffield City Hall
Wed 06                Cambridge Corn Exchange
Fri 08                    Leicester De Montfort Hall
Sat 09                   Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Mon 11                Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue 12                  Brighton Dome
Wed 13                Portsmouth Guildhall
Fri 15                    Salisbury City Hall
Sat 16                   Reading Hexagon
Mon 18                Birmingham Symphony Hall
Tue 19                  York Barbican
Wed 20                Bath Forum
Fri 22                    Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sat 23                  Gateshead The Sage
Mon 25                Edinburgh Usher Hall
Tue 26                  Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 27                Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Fri 29                    London Hammersmith Eventim Apollo

Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.

Joining Steve on the tour are his regular musicians Roger King (keyboards), Jonas Reingold (bass), Gary O’Toole (drums/percussion), Rob Townsend (saxes/flutes) with Nad Sylvan on vocals.

About Steve Hackett

Since the 1970’s Steve has had a remarkable musical career renowned as both an immensely talented and innovative rock musician and a virtuoso classical guitarist and composer. He has released more than 30 solo albums, seven Genesis albums and worked alongside Steve Howe of YES with supergroup GTR.

Recognised as one of the most innovative rock musicians of our time, in 2010 he was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame.

Hackett was lead guitarist with Genesis as part of their classic line up with Gabriel, Collins, Banks and Rutherford, who produced several of the band’s most acclaimed albums including Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

With Steve’s extraordinary versatility in both his electric guitar playing and his composing, he is influenced by many genres, including Jazz, World Music, Blues and classical.

Steve’s music is as popular as ever, his last two album releases Wolflight in 2015 and last year’s The Night Siren both went straight into the Top 40 of the UK album charts, proving that Steve’s amazing compositions and virtuoso playing continue to delight.

Reviews Esoteric Antenna – Steve Hackett and Djabe – Summer Storms and Rocking Rivers & Life is a Journey – The Sardinia Tapes – by James R. Turner

Summer Storms & Rocking Rivers

Hungary’s world-renowned Jazz Fusion/world music ensemble Djabe have been working with one of England’s finest guitarists, Steve Hackett, since 2003 when he guested on their album ‘Sharks are Dancing’, since then they have recorded and toured across the world together, improvising and freewheeling.

These two CD/DVD packages are taken from two different tours, with the first ‘Summer Storms and Rocking Rivers’ recorded in Hungary in 2011, the CD is the live document, while the DVD is a fleshed-out release with more songs than there was space for on the CD. This, with an additional documentary and a couple of bonus tracks, showcases what this whole tour was about.

This is all about 6 musicians, incredibly talented and versatile, getting into the groove and proving that music can cross borders, languages and transcend styles.

The concert is a case in point, as Djabe (Ferenc Kovacs – trumpet, violin, vocals, Zoltan Kovacs – keyboards, Attila Egerhazi – guitar, percussion, Tamas Barabas – bass & Szilard Banai – drums), along with Steve, play a wildly diverse musical mix of Steve Hackett songs (Ace of Wands, The Steppes, Horizons – all reinterpreted and improvised around) and Djabe material (City of Habi, Butterfly, Scenes – Above Poland, Scenes- Sunset at the Seaside), all mixed up and interpreted wonderfully here.

Djabe’s fluid and taut playing allows room within the songs for Steve to improvise and you get the impression that all 6 musicians are having a ball, there’s even room for radical interpretations of a few classic Genesis numbers (Firth of Fifth, Los Endos, In the Quiet Earth) all played around with, built upon and incredibly different from the source, making this fun and exciting. It captures what was a very special evening of music and of the joys of making music without boundaries, genres or people asking whether or not it’s ‘prog’.

You don’t need to pigeonhole it, just enjoy it.

Released 24th February 2017

Order from Cherry Red:

Summer Storms & Rocking RiversSteve Hackett & Djabe

Life Is A Journey – The Sardinia Tapes

‘Life is a Journey – The Sardinia Tapes’ was recorded and improvised in Sardinia in 2016 by Steve and the Djabe line-up of Tamas Barabas, Attila Egerhazi, Guli Briem (drums, percussion) and Aron Koos-Hutas (trumpet) and was the first time the musicians had simply spent time in a room, improvising, jamming and writing new material, rather than just playing live on stage.

The double set here has the album on CD, and a bonus DVD of the album in stereo and surround mixes, 5 tracks recorded live in the Budapest Jazz Club in 2017 and a short documentary.

The album itself is one of those rare beasts, an album you know nothing about, and have no pre-conceptions about. Knowing how Steve Hackett mixes his music making up, flitting from classical, to progressive rock to revisiting his past, you’re never sure where he’s going next. Djabe are an impressive improvisational group and, working with Steve, you can tell from listening to this album, they have built up a brilliant working relationship and revel in each other’s musical company. This comes across the 72 plus minutes of this album.

It is a complete revelation, and whilst I can completely understand why Steve preforms and releases the ‘Genesis Revisite’ concerts, I much prefer this side of his musical coin. The improvisations here are fluid and free forming and come from the same musical space, a shared appreciation and mutual admiration of each other’s talents. The way that Aron Koos-Hutas’ trumpet weaves its way through tracks like Golden Sands or Wake Up is revelatory, while the work they put in to songs like Life is a Journey or Beams Over the Nulvi Mountains are sublime.

This mixes, matches and blends genres and styles seamlessly. The reason why the songs work so well is because each musician knows intimately what would work where, and why, and this freedom makes this album immersive and rewarding. With every listen something new is teased out, a motif here, a drum roll there. This is an album that rewards repeat listens, and with the way it ebbs, flows and builds, it doesn’t feel like it’s over an hour of music. It feels like it’s as long as it needs to be.

It’s albums like this that prove to me why Steve Hackett is still the most innovative and creative former member of Genesis out there, not content to rest on his laurels and still following his muse and, in Djabe, he has found fellow travellers more than happy to join him on his journey.

Released 6th October 2017

Order from Cherry Red:

LIFE IS A JOURNEY ~ THE SARDINIA TAPES: CD/DVD SETSteve Hackett & Djabe