New Nick Beggs Interview – March 2017

PMR Nick Beggs Interview

I caught up with bassist extraordinaire Nick Beggs in between legs of the 2017 Steve Hackett ‘Genesis Revisited and Classic Hackett Tour’. We discuss all things Nick Beggs related, The Mute Gods, working with Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson and much more………

Interview and photos by Tim Darbyshire

Tim Darbyshire (TD): So Nick, firstly thanks very much for taking the call.

Nick Beggs (NB): No problem

TD: Let’s start in the present. last Thursday and Friday we went to Oakville And Buffalo, two great shows. How was the Buffalo show with the orchestra, how were your preparations different?

NB: Well to be honest with you, there was no preparation needed on my behalf whatsoever. I think there was a couple of end cadences which changed due to the points at which they’re transcribed. They’d taken something from an earlier incarnation of the song, and we’d since developed the arrangements a bit. The end of Firth of Fifth, there was four bars different from what they’d done so I had to change what I played there, but that was it.

I think really, to be honest with you, the best thing to do is to just ignore it, carry on doing the gig as normal and they fit around what you’re doing – that was the idea of it anyway.

TD: Have they seen the music before, did they rehearse or I guess they’re just classically trained musicians that read off the sheet music?

NB: Yes exactly, that’s how all orchestras work. It’s too expensive to get a 64-piece orchestra together for rehearsals. Orchestras work on a very different kind of scale to musicians of the rock or jazz idiom. Time is money and of the essence, they have to take five minutes off every half hour or every fifty minutes whatever it is – it’s heavily union led.

So there is no discrepancy for error, the orchestrator will do all the work. He met up in London with Roger King and they talked a few things through. But no, from our part it was turn up, ignore the orchestra and get on with what you usually do.

TD: Hardly any interaction then between the band and the orchestra? Was it a case of they’re just sitting behind us playing the music?

NB: Yes, we talked with the conductor (Bradley Thachuk) and his brother, the arrangers, and they were great, we had interaction with them.

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TD: He seemed to be having the time of his life on stage – Bradley

NB: Yes, and Steve his brother, they’re both big prog-heads. It was a nice experience and it would have been better if the orchestra been sat on an angle, on terraced seating to be showed off more. From what I could hear, they sounded wonderful, but I couldn’t hear that much of them. It’s a distraction really, when you’re used to playing – and there is no rehearsal time for the band with the orchestra – if you’re hearing the orchestra playing new parts, and you’re ‘hearing’ the room it can be a distraction…….

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TD: Sure, I went on the balcony pre-show and it was a good view of the orchestra behind the band setup, but from the floor it was just the band, you could see the double basses on one side and some violins on the other.

NB: Yes I think the balcony was definitely the best vantage point for viewing the concert, I don’t know if sonically it was better or not.

TD: Sonically, to me the orchestra was helping Roger’s parts, filling in textures and colours. giving it a nice feel. From where we were, the bass was very quiet – but I guess it has to be so you don’t drown out the orchestra?

NB: Yes, generally on stage the sound was quite quiet. You’ve got so many frequencies occurring in an orchestra anyway you have to mix it accordingly. And you know with only four hours to get it together in terms of sounds and run throughs you’re not going to have an ideal scenario no matter how good your front house sound guys are, your conductor, it’s not going to be 100% right.

TD: But it was considered a considerable success, yes?

NB: Well it was sold out! That’s as much of a success you can expect on that level.

TD: Artistically though – everyone seemed very happy?

NB: Yes, we had a lovely time.

TD: The Oakville show the night before was a more traditional Hackett gig. A great theatre, compact venue and the bass sound goes right through you.

NB: Yes, probably quite a different mix to the one you got the next night, because of the shape of the room as well. It was mixed more for a rock ensemble, you didn’t have to leave headroom for the orchestra.

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TD: Where did you get the idea of using your fists for the bass pedals during Shadow Of The Hierophant?

NB: Well it’s really because it’s Gary (O’Toole)’s drum solo to be honest, and I didn’t want to be standing in his eye line. I didn’t want to be obscuring the audience from seeing what he was doing – turning all the rhythms round and doing all the polyrhythmic stuff you know, so I thought I should just sit down and hammer these things.

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TD: In a way, that’s what people were looking at – what’s he doing down there!?

NB: So it backfired then did it?

TD: Not really, it’s such a crescendo, the build up to the end of Hierophant, the whole place was shaking!

NB: Cool.

TD: So you’re back in Steve Hackett’s band – is that for the whole touring cycle or just until the UK and Europe dates are finished?

NB: It’s for this year.

TD: So there’s plans for more dates later in the year?

NB: Yes, there’s plans for later dates, they’re sorted of added on as we go, but we’re not too sure yet.

TD: Will that include a return to North America and specifically Canada?

NB: To be honest I really don’t know – it could do but I can’t confirm that.

TD: You had to learn to play the guitar touring with Steve Hackett. How was that?

NB: A challenge. I had to do it in three months and it’s quite complicated stuff although you’re not playing lead lines per se. You’re playing some linear parts – you know it was a challenge and I’m really glad that I took, because it sprungboarded me to The Mute Gods project really. After that I started writing songs in a different way and approaching the whole songwriting overview very differently.

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TD: So the Chapman Stick – isn’t that a guitar and a bass in one instrument?

NB: Yes it is. You can’t really play guitar music on the Chapman Stick, not to that extent. You play music that’s made for the Chapman Stick really.

TD: It’s really not like a regular guitar then

NB: You can play some of the voicings and some things work quite well, but it’s peculiar to itself you might say.

TD: It’s a touch guitar as opposed to plucked strings?

NB: Yes that’s right

TD: I did notice you didn’t use the Stick on the current Hackett tour, but you have before?

NB: I had planned on it, but it seemed each time the set was being revised, another Chapman Stick song was being dropped – for no reason other than the songs just didn’t seem to work as well, so I thought ok I’ll leave it behind this time and focus on other things.

TD: The set is based around Wind And Wuthering this time, do you have any songs that are your favourite Genesis songs to play or Steve Hackett songs?

NB: Well to be honest with you, all of his stuff I love. I always did, and the Genesis stuff too. With his departure I found the band not as interesting. And Then There Were Three was very good and a lot of people cite Duke as an album that’s worth listening to, but I never really listened to it. I think they lost something, and I realised that between him and Peter (Gabriel), that was the reason I really loved the band in the first place.

TD: I completely agree. People say they prefer Peter Gabriel era Genesis, but when you think about it more deeply, I think Steve Hackett era Genesis is more accurate. A Trick of the Tail……

NB: Trick of the Tail is amazing and so is Wind and Wuthering, and so is Seconds Out. You know the first Genesis Live album and Seconds Out are both quite ubiquitous live albums, that kind of informed a generation about what a live album should be really.

TD: I love the Genesis Live cover, the blue sheets the backdrops and the red box head – there’s just something about it, obviously the music as well…..It must be good to play music live that you grew up with?

NB: Very much so, it’s always great to have the opportunity to work with your heroes.

TD: I bet, and Steve always surrounds himself with amazing musicians.

NB: He’s very easy to work with. He’s very appreciative and always makes you feel very welcome and tells you how much he’s grateful that you’re in the band, and I think ah Steve we’re all here because of you, because we love you, you know.

TD: And that’s the reason we all keep coming to the shows. Rob Townsend as well, he adds such a different angle, a different take on the classic material, and of course he’s on the new Hackett albums.

NB: I think Steve needed another improvisational soloist in the ensemble you know, he needed someone who could extemporize ideas each night and sort of duet with him, duel with him. Rob is great like that, and using a soprano saxophone in that way – again thinking orchestrally – it doesn’t tread on anyone’s toes, and it always works.

TD: It does, I’ve seen the band many times down the years and never been disappointed.

NB: Great.

TD: Although you need to come back here as the shows I saw I didn’t get to hear One For The Vine!

NB: Yes, we did change the set around quite a lot for various reasons. We played One For The Vine on many of the shows but not the ones you turned up to. I don’t know why that was, it’s just the way it happened.

TD: I’m guessing you wanted to run through Supper’s Ready a few times before the performance with the orchestra?

NB: Yes that’s right

TD: I can’t really sit here and complain about hearing Supper’s Ready live can I?

NB: Yes I guess not!

TD: So, your other main touring commitment is with Steven Wilson, and has been for the last 5 years or so.

NB: And Kim Wilde

TD: Yes, Kim Wilde, is that still ongoing?

NB: I was going to be doing something with her at Christmas, but it got cancelled. But you never know with Kim, she might have some space that I can fit in with. A lot of time I’m too busy with other stuff so she’s had to get somebody else in when I’m not available. I do get back into the project from time to time, they’re such great people to work with.

TD: So who has priority then? Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Kim Wilde or whoever asks first?

NB: Well I’m sure you appreciate, as a musician you know you go where most of the work is, and there’s been times when Steve Hackett hasn’t been touring that much, and Steve Wilson has, and vice-versa. You know Steve Wilson’s not doing any touring this year so I’m with Steve Hackett.

TD: On the Wilson side, I know you were in the studio recently with him recording. Are all your parts finished?

NB: Yes, the album’s finished.

TD: Have you heard it?

NB: I’ve heard some of it, I haven’t heard the finished mixes obviously, but I’m meeting up with him probably later in the week to take the dogs out for a walk.

TD: You live quite close to him then? You’re in Leighton Buzzard?

NB: Yes he lives just down the road from me in a little town called Hemel Hempstead.

TD: So is Steven surprising us all again with this album?

NB: Well, I shouldn’t really talk too much about his album, because he’ll want to do that when it comes out, but suffice to say – yes you won’t be disappointed. It’s going to be quite a surprise, it’s going to be a great album.

TD: I heard he’s signed with Universal, is that correct?

NB: Yes

TD: I’m not sure how I feel about that. Happy for him if it moves him up to a higher league…

NB: Actually it’s a subsidiary of Universal….

TD: Ok so the album’s out later in the year but there’s no touring until next year?

NB: Yes, as far as I know.

TD: So, onto The Mute Gods. I guess you’re very close with Roger (King) from working with Steve Hackett, and Marco (Minneman) from touring with Steven Wilson. Did it just come about because you thought I’ve been playing other people’s music for so long, it’s time I did some more of my own?

NB: Yes, more or less, except somebody else said that to me. Thomas Waber at InsideOut put those words into my head.

TD: So you just needed a little push?

NB: Yes, well I said I don’t think anyone’s interested in what I’ve got to say. He said I think you might be surprised….

TD: Did it come together in hotel rooms on tour, or do you always have a collection of songs ready waiting for various projects?

NB: Yes, and I also always have a recording set up with me when I’m travelling.

TD: A laptop and…..

NB: A laptop and a soundcard and a keyboard or guitar.

TD: So you record any ideas as you get them?

NB: Yes, I came up with three new ideas this last month on the road with Steve Hackett.

TD: For The Mute Gods 3, the next album?

NB: Yes

TD: So the new album (Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth), I’ve read some reviews where people are suggesting you’re really ranting. To me it doesn’t sound like that, ok lyrically you’re having your say – as everyone should – but the album itself doesn’t sound like a doom-laden, morose angry rant to me. Some of the songs seem pretty ‘up’.

NB: I think it depends how much you want to distill it. If you look at the lyrics, I think the lyrics are very dark. There’s some dark melodic ideas and it’s quite gnarly. It’s not as ranty as a Rage Against The Machine album or something of that genre. It’s melodic, but it’s the angriest album I’ve ever made.

TD: You’re having your say on the state of the world. 2016 was a crazy year……

NB: The thing that always amazes me is just how much distance there is between the right and the left politically. So those who voted in a certain way, those who voted the other way – there’s no middle ground. And therefore if people don’t agree with what you’re saying they’ll come down on one particular side, and if they do agree they completely agree and know where you’re coming from.

But something I’ve learned from making this record is I’m not going to try and please anybody. I’m going to please myself and I’m not doing this to win friends and influence people. I’m doing this because I’ve got something to say – and that has to be the essence of why I’m making these records. If I’m trying to engender a fan base, it will come across as disingenuous. Frankly I hold very strong views.

TD: Well a lot of it makes sense to me

NB: That’s probably because we’re of the same political persuasion, but when the far right is gathering in the wings and you have idiots voting for Brexit and fuckwits voting for Trump you’re going to alienate people – I don’t care about that, that’s what I’m prepared to do. I’m prepared to call people out for what they’re doing.

TD: That’s right, in the artistic community, anyone you speak to, I can’t imagine them voting for Trump.

NB: No. Last night a guy came on The Mute Gods Facebook page and left a message saying Nick Beggs has lost himself a lot of fans by being very rude about the Brexiteers. I just went in and said thank you for inspiring the album, I’ve not finished with you lot by a long way!

TD: There’s a lot wrong the way we treat people in the world today, corporate power, government cover ups……history has taught us we should be very aware of the far right rising.

NB: It’s going to get worse. We are moving towards a very draconian time. Resources are going to be stretched to breaking point and it costs a lot of money to have care in the community, and to be considerate and altruistic, and when it comes down to it and governments are being squeezed, and people are being squeezed due to the trickle down effect, it’s going to become a very untenable society.

TD: We seem to have lost all the middle ground, over the last 20 years?

NB: It’s where we’re at. We had the boom period of the 80s, if we’d gone back to post war Britain you’d see a lot of austerity then, much more than extreme than this – but we’re heading back into a period of that kind of difficulty for large swathes of society. The disenfranchised are growing….

TD: The gap between the haves and have nots in society is growing, obscene corporate wages, the banking crisis etc, it’s all linked.

NB: It’s a perfect storm.

TD: So much greed at the top, I guess this is a whole different conversation……..

NB: Well it’s not really to be honest with you, this is the essence of what I’m writing about, this is what The Mute Gods is about. It’s about me turning the spotlight on the mechanisms that have got us here.

TD: The love song that closes the album (Stranger Than Fiction), is that the antidote? Love can save us?

NB: I think love is the only thing that can save the day. If you can find love in your life it will make sense of everything, it’s like a lottery win. But if you focus in on the things that are self-seeking and build walls around yourself and pull down the portcullis and pull up the drawbridge, as society is doing, then that’s where we’re heading.

I also take issue with religion – religion has sold us with the footnote that God is love, but we know that not to be true. We know that God’s representatives here on Earth and all the agencies thereof, do anything but love. We know that Christianity does not have the moral monopoly.

TD: You used to have religion didn’t you?

NB: Yes, I was a very very committed Christian for decades.

TD: So what changed then?

NB: I realised that every decision I had made appertaining to my faith had been based in fear and a desire to please something that I thought had my best interests at heart. And then I realised that you can’t build a life or a future on something there is no proof of, that actually on a daily basis seems to become less real, less potentially real.

On a global scale, on a universal scale, science is proving this. We are welcome to have our own thoughts and ideas, but that’s all they are. We do not have the right to push those beliefs or set up systems from which to govern over people and put down credos and dictums by which people should live. It’s time we came out of the dark ages and realised what stupid idiots we’ve been.

TD: All we hear about is Isis, but crazy right wing religious groups in America are
as bad.

NB: You look at the hate preachers in America – they are every bit as bad as Isis.

TD: I thought religion was meant to be based on love, all you hear about is hate.

NB: Well true love is totally un self-seeking, otherwise it can’t be true love. It has to be based in an act of kindness as a guttural knee-jerk response based on your level of humanity. When we see these poor people who have suffered terribly because the West have bombed them…..and you know the East as well because a lot of these terrorist groups have Russian weapons. We make these weapons, we put them out in the playground and all these children are being blown up, and we wonder why they want to come and live in our country? It beggars belief……

TD: Power, money, corruption….

NB: I feel all we need now is a couple of pints and we could put the world to rights!

TD: I’d love to , but I’m on the wrong side of the pond at the moment!

NB: I don’t have great hopes for humanity, I think we’re living on very thin times and don’t think we’ve got long to go. I think in the next hundred years we’re going to see life become very very difficult for the human race. I think there’ll be an enclave of the upper echelons who can afford to buy themselves in to a safe island somewhere, a safe haven. But I think society is going to become untenable for our children and our grand children.

TD: Very sad

NB: Yes but we’ve only got ourselves to blame, nobody else, and God is not going to save us. Nobody is going to help us, there will be no revelations, no second coming, no anti-christ.

TD: We’ll just fuck the planet up and that’s that

NB: Yes, that’s it, and it doesn’t matter, and when we’re all fossils…..you know

TD: Are you glad you’re 55? Not sure I’d want to be 18 again, life seems harder now?

NB: Well I feel like I am perennially 21, I have that sense of vitality, but the thing that I don’t envy is the folly of youth, the ignorance and the ability to think that you know everything – and the inability to take good advice. But that’s a good metaphor for humanity……

TD: It’s a sobering thought though, we both have kids.

NB: Well it is, my kids have a great outlook on life. They listen to me when I start talking about this stuff, but they’re going to live their lives, have good life expectation. My children are very fortunate and for as long as the world seems to rotate they will live their lives in a way much better than my parents did, or my grandparents did.

TD: We’re a similar age, I think growing up we expected things to get progressively better?

NB: There are things that are better, things that have moved on, and there always will be. We’re living ever more in a global village, where the effects of one country can have even further far reaching effects globally than before. Technology pushes the reality of nightmare scenarios under our noses.

TD: And everything’s so throwaway these days, no one has any attention span.

NB: I have some hopes and dreams. I dare to believe that the spirit of certain types of entrepreneurial thinkers will continue to make life better. I saw somebody the other day who was selling a new patent – it was a fridge that worked on oxygen, and it could convert oxygen to the basic requirements to keep refrigeration. It was an oxygen engine and I thought , that’s the type of people that are going to save us.

TD: You’re right, it’s like the car industry, the technology is there for us all to be driving electric cars, but the car manufacturers and oil companies hold us back.

NB: Of course the petro-chemical industry own all the patents. One of the most polluted roads in the whole of the UK is in Swansea, you’d think there’d be a move towards cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, better environment the way we see things on TV, but the particulates issue is still a massive issue.

TD: On your social media you often post pictures from your garden, butterflies and the like. People seem ignorant to the fact that if we continue to kill our pollinators there will be no food left.

NB: People don’t have time to think about it. People are being waged war on by governments. Governments use silent weapons, they use commerce, they keep us in our places, keep us under the cosh. We have to pay this bill or that tax, we are in a perpetual battle zone of our own and for those poor souls that are financially unfeasible they just fall by the wayside and become a statistic. Governments are very good at silencing their dissenters. They use it with commerce.

TD: As we get older not everything is quite as perceived shall we say?

NB: The paradigm is always changing. The landscape is always changing politically and socially, environmentally everything is changing all the time.

TD: Yes, the environment is a big one. So Nick, anything else to add about The Mute Gods? Your favourite song on the new album?

NB: My favourite track on the album is The Dumbing Of The Stupid because I think it speaks to our generation.

TD: There’s no misunderstanding the sentiment, just from the title. I know you’re very busy these days, is Kajagoogoo still an ongoing project?

NB: No. We did something about nine years ago, and that was good. It was almost like a kind of revisiting of it for old time’s sake and I felt that we did quite a lot of good with that. But in terms of moving forward, there’s no point in revisiting that project.

TD: I guess that’s when everyone first heard your name

NB: Yes of course, it was globally quite well received but it was a pop act, it was very much of its time and it did what it was supposed to do which was to chart.

TD: It got you out there though, and has given you a life in music.

NB: Yes it got me started. It got me started in a way that was very disposable, but it was absolutely right and made for the 80s. It was made for the 80s, by the 80s, in the 80s.

TD: So despite your numerous live commitments, will we ever see The Mute Gods on stage?

NB: I really don’t know the answer to that question. At the moment, the interest in the band seems to be growing to such an extent that it’s likely, but I can’t really make a decision on that until the release of the third album. I want to give myself enough time to consider everything.

TD: Is The Mute Gods’ third album now your priority, after promoting the new album?

NB: Yes, that’s my next project. You say promote the new album, but to be honest with you, when you put an album out all the work’s done by the time the album’s out there, so it can be a real anti-climax. You’ve been working on it for maybe a year or so, had all this intimate detail, you do all the press and that leading up to it and then it goes out…..and it’s like, ok you have to let it get on with it really, let it have its life.

TD: You mentioned Thomas Waber at InsideOut earlier. They seem to do great work with prog bands and prog-metal bands.

NB: I don’t know if I’d have done it if it wasn’t for Thomas, he galvanised the whole thing. He made me start thinking about it, and on more than one occasion put the idea into my head. I kind of pushed it out initially, I thought nah…..

TD: I love the fact that in these days of streaming, they release deluxe editions, mediabook editions, 5.1 mixes and all that. Is that just for our generation?

NB: Well they know the demographic – they know what these things mean to that demographic, and it’s not just people in their 50s, younger people are coming to this…..they’re being seduced by the same things that we were, and for good reason. They’re good things, good ideas, they’re tangible, you can hold them, look at them and they relay information in a far more compelling way than a digital download will ever do.

TD: I obviously grew up with vinyl. Could you believe say 10 years ago that you’d be releasing your new album on vinyl?

NB: Well I was always incensed when I couldn’t buy stuff on vinyl. I remember the first time I went into a record shop and couldn’t buy a John Martyn album on vinyl. I got a bit angry with the shopkeeper! I thought hang on this is ridiculous, it’s not this guy’s fault but at that particular time I saw him as part of the problem because they’d turned their backs on something that was tried and tested – and something that I loved, and again I’m not the only person who thought that.

TD: It’s kind of like the perpetual software/hardware upgrade cycle.

NB: Yes, and I think those things are ok providing you accept that. You have to find your level, your entry point in to the digital realm. Some people like to digitize their vinyl – I know some of my friends do – now they’re getting crackles and everything but then they’re running it through filters and you’re in a whole other area of expertise.

5.1 mixing, you know it all depends what your comfort zone is.

TD: I love 5.1 mixes, listening to Close To The Edge, hearing the parts Steven Wilson has added back in from the multi-track tapes. It’s a great way to revisit classic albums you grew up with.

NB: He has a very nice way of referring to that, whenever he does a 5.1 mix he says he doesn’t want to change anything, he says ‘I just want to spring clean the Sistine Chapel’. Isn’t that great?

TD: That’s great, and he’s very good at his spring cleaning, he’s got a good ear.

NB: He’s the best. He’s great, he knows his stuff.

TD: Nick, thanks for all the live shows over the years, with Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett. You always seem to be having fun on stage

NB: Glad you enjoy it, I’ve got the best job in the world haven’t I?

TD: We could do with a few less nude shots of you but apart from that I think we’re ok……

NB: Au contraire! The world needs more nudity, you know you can trust a man with no pockets. Also when you take your clothes off and run towards a man with a gun when you’re naked, you know he’s going to run away.

TD: It’s the safest defence?

NB: (laughing)…I’ve done it a few times

TD: It’s a good job I can’t see you now isn’t it?

NB: Yes, I’m laying here completely starkers! …….No I’m not, only joking Tim

TD: Well Nick that was great, thanks again for you time. Hopefully we can do it again some time

NB: Alright, I’m sure I’ll be heading over the pond sometime. Have a good rest of the day, and thanks for your time and thanks for your interest.

TD: Cheers

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Steve Hackett – Live at The Oakville Centre, 2nd March 2017

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Steve Hackett made a welcome to Canada this week for a show at The Oakville Centre For The Performing Arts in Ontario. This was the penultimate performance of the North American leg of Steve’s  new ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ 2017 tour.

Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire

This was Steve Hackett’s fifth appearance at The Oakville Centre in just over three years and it’s always a pleasure to see him and his band play here. There’s not a bad seat in the house and the sound is always crystal clear in this compact 470 seat venue.  Despite being a frequent visitor, this year’s set list was very different to last year’s, such is the quality of Steve’s solo back catalogue as well as the depth of his work with Genesis.

This tour sees him showcasing new material from his as yet unreleased new studio album ‘The Night Siren’ (out later this month on Inside Out) as well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Genesis classic ‘Wind And Wuthering’.

The first half of the set focussed on the new material, including ‘In The Skeleton Gallery’ and ‘Behind The Smoke’ interspersed with some classic solo Hackett songs such as ‘Every Day’,  ‘The Steppes’ and ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’.  ‘Hierophant’ ended the first part of the set with a climactic crescendo including Nick Beggs sitting cross-legged on the stage pounding his bass pedals with his fists.

Without having yet heard the ‘The Night Siren’, the songs played tonight seem to indicate that the new album is carrying on the Hackett tradition of a multicultural cross-genre collaborative approach, in a similar vein to 2015’s ‘Wolflight’, with many guest musicians from around the world. Rob Townsend (wind instruments) certainly proved his mettle on the newer songs with an impressive display and a variety of styles.

The second half concentrated on the ‘Wind And Wuthering’ album – ‘Eleventh Earl Of Mar’, ‘Blood On The Rooftops’ (with drummer Gary O’Toole providing the vocals), ‘In That Quiet Earth’, ‘Afterglow’ – and other familiar Genesis classics including ‘Firth of Fifth’ and ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’.  Nad Sylvan once again handles the vocals for the Genesis material and seems to be developing his own style with the songs more and more.  Roger King plays Tony Banks’ keyboard parts effortlessly – including the notoriously tricky piano intro to ‘Firth Of Fifth’.  The major surprise of the night was the inclusion of ‘Supper’s Ready’ for the first time on this tour (at the expense of ‘One For The Vine’, ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and ‘Inside And Out’). With Steve and his band due to play ‘Supper’s Ready’ with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra the following night, I guess it’s not surprising they felt like giving it an outing. The appreciative audience was treated to ‘The Musical Box’ as the encore.

Backed as ever by his highly talented band (including the returning bassist Nick Beggs), Steve Hackett and co once again delivered a stellar performance lasting over two hours. Seeing Steve up close and playing the solo in ‘Firth of Fifth’ will always be a highlight of the show for me.

Touring continues in Europe in late March, April and May in Europe and the UK.  Steve seems to be currently on a two year new album/new tour cycle  – if so, hopefully he’ll return to Canada/North America next year when he is rumoured to be playing the Montreal and Quebec areas.

Set List – Steve Hackett, The Oakville Centre – 2nd March

Every Day
El Nino
Out of The Body
The Steppes
In The Skeleton Gallery
Behind The Smoke
Shadow Of The Hierophant (closing section)
Eleventh Earl Of Mar
Blood On The Rooftops
…In That Quiet Earth
Afterglow
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Firth of Fifth
Supper’s Ready

Encore
The Musical Box

Steve Hackett: Guitars, Vocals
Nad Sylvan: Vocals
Nick Beggs: Bass
Roger King: Keyboards
Gary O’Toole: Drums
Rob Townsend: Wind Instruments

Click here to read my review of Steve’s performance with The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on March 3rd

Click here to read my interview with Steve Hackett, discussing ‘The Night Siren’

Steve Hackett – Live at Kleinhans Music Hall Buffalo with Philharmonic Orchestra, 3rd March 2017

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Steve Hackett wrapped up the North American leg of the ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ 2017 tour in Buffalo with a special one-off  show of predominantly Genesis songs with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall – an event not to be missed.

Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

After months of detailed planning with conductor Bradley Thachuk of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, it was finally time to see Steve Hackett and band fuse classic Genesis material with a full orchestra.  There was a tangible sense of expectation as the audience filtered into the grand concert hall with the orchestra already seated and tuning up.

Seating 2400, Kleinhans is renowned for its excellent acoustics and as the band kicked off with ‘Dance On A Volcano’ it was clear we were in for a special evening. The orchestra added texture and colour, filling spaces normally occupied by Roger King’s lush keyboard sounds. Steve seemed to be playing with a permanent smile on his face, although the most animated person on stage was conductor Bradley Thachuk who was clearly having the time of his life.

The strong positive vibe continued throughout the show as Steve mixed full on Genesis classics such as ‘Firth of Fifth’, ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’ and ‘Supper’s Ready’ with more subtle solo numbers which highlighted the orchestral contribution like ‘The Steppes’ and ‘Serpentine Song’. The rapturous applause after the set closer ‘Supper’s Ready’ was long lasting as the band and orchestra soaked up the sell out crowd’s appreciation. The band minus orchestra returned to the stage and finished the tour with a rousing version of ‘The Musical Box’.

Steve has of course been playing Genesis material on tour for the last four years, but having been influenced in so many ways by classical music this rare opportunity to play with the orchestra was one he clearly relished. Although not playing at the same volume as a regular gig,  Steve’s band delivered a superb performance as ever and special mention must go to the sound engineer Ben Fenner for giving us the perfect blend of electric band and orchestra.

I’m sure relief was among the emotions displayed at the end of the two hour show due to the nature of this one-off performance. Hopefully it’s an experiment Steve will be able to repeat again in the near future.

Setlist – Steve Hackett at Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo:

Set 1:
Dance On A Volcano
Out of The Body
The Steppes
Firth of Fifth
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Blood On The Rooftops
Shadow Of The Hierophant (closing section)

Set 2:
….In That Quiet Earth
Afterglow
Serpentine Song
Supper’s Ready

Encore:
The Musical Box

The 2017 Touring band:

Steve Hackett: Guitars, Vocals
Nad Sylvan: Vocals
Nick Beggs: Bass
Roger King: Keyboards
Gary O’Toole: Drums
Rob Townsend: Wind instruments

and The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bradley Thachuk.

Click here to read my review of Steve’s performance in Oakville the night before.

Click hear to read my interview with Steve Hackett, discussing ‘The Night Siren’.

Steve Hackett announces new studio album ‘The Night Siren’

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Steve Hackett’s new studio album is called ‘The Night Siren’ and will be released by Inside Out Music on March 24th 2017……..

Steve discusses the new album and forthcoming tour here.

The official press release below is taken from HackettSongs.com :

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 playing as strongly as ever, along with regular Hackett collaborators and also 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.

The album features: Steve Hackett (guitar & vocals), Roger King (keyboards & programming), Nad Sylvan (vocals on Inca Terra), Rob Townsend (all things wind), Amanda Lehmann (vocals), Gary O’Toole (drums), and Benedict Fenner (additional keyboards & programming). Also featured are singers Kobi and Mira (Israeli and Palestinian), Nick D’Virgilio (drums) from the USA, Malik Mansurov (Tar) from Azerbaijan & Gulli Breim (drums & percussion) from Iceland. Additional musicians who add to the rich flavour of the album are Christine Townsend (violin & viola), Dick Driver (double bass), Troy Donockley (Celtic Uilleann) and Leslie Bennett (keyboards on The Gift).

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

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

Album artphotos by iconphoto.ch

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 and solo 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.

Photo by Tina Korhonen © 2016, all rights reserved.
Photo by Tina Korhonen © 2016, all rights reserved.

NEW Steve Hackett Interview – December 2016

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I caught up with Steve to discuss the forthcoming new album, the 2017 Tour and all other things Hackett-related. Many thanks to Steve for being so generous with his precious time, and also thanks to Jo Hackett facilitating the interview.

Tim Darbyshire – Hi Steve!

Steve Hackett – How are you doing Tim?

Tim – I’m good thanks how are you?

Steve – Fine thank you.

Tim – Thanks for your time tonight.

Steve – That’s alright.

Tim – Ok, so the new album, when is that due out?

Steve – Well, I think it’s going to be out in March.

Tim – Does it have a title yet?

Steve – We do have a title yes, but I haven’t officially given it out yet, so once the record company says ‘green light’ , then I will. All this stuff is being agreed at the moment – I’m just finally assembling the order of the songs. We had an order on Friday, but with some record company input there were a few changes, so we now have a new order as of today – and if it still passes muster tomorrow then that’s the one we’ll go with.

Tim – But the album is completely finished, it’s all in the can?

Steve – It’s basically in the can yes, bar the odd tweak it’s all in the can. It’s mastering at the moment, we’ve done the mixes so it’s basically down to the mastering. We’ve done a 5.1 mix as well as a stereo mix and we’ve done mastering for vinyl, except we’re doing it all over again due to the changed order. It’s a knock on effect, domino effect but in a good way I think.

Tim – So there will be a deluxe version with the 5.1 mix, maybe a double cd?

Steve – That’s right, yes I think in terms of formats there will be a blu-ray, and various things across the board basically. I’m finding it hard to keep up at the moment to be honest – I’ve been working flat out on this for over a year, but it’s coming to fruition and I’m very pleased with it. We’ve got people from all over the world on it.

Tim – So there are guest musicians besides your normal band?

Steve – Yes, there are guests on it, quite a lot of guests. There are about twenty people on it, from as far afield as Israel and Palestine working together on it.

Tim – That’s a good thing.

Steve – Azerbaijan, Hungary, The States. Some stuff was recorded in Italy, some in Budapest, some in London, it’s like an ‘on location’ kind of thing – and it’s got that kind of feel about it. I think it’s got a very….I’ve never used the word international before…… but it has a kind of international feel to it. There are aspects of World Music on it, it’s basically a rock album – but it does keep wandering off into other genres, crossing borders all the time.

Tim – Sounds like a very nice eclectic mix.

Steve – Yes, it is a nice eclectic mix and I’m just playing it to people for the first time. I’m just at my mother’s tonight in fact – she hasn’t been very well – and I’m playing it to her and she loves it already. It’s making her feel better, so it’s doing its job already! Music is supposed to heal, and that’s what it’s doing at the moment, and I’m pleased about that.

Tim – I hope she gets well soon, I know she’s a big supporter of your music.

Steve – Thank you, yes she’s been a huge support and huge enthusiast, all of those things. I think she will recover, but for several weeks she’s been ill with the lurgy basically – I think she’s on the road to recovery, but she’s having to fight this and it’s a little harder for her because of her age. There aren’t too many concessions to age with my Mum!

Tim – So early 2017 sees you back on the road, and I see you’ve got Nick Beggs back in the band.

Steve – Yes, Nick Beggs and we’ve got Nad as well with the regular band. We’ll also be celebrating the 40th year of ‘Wind and Wuthering’, so we’re doing quite a bit of that album – not all of it – but we’re doing what I think are the strongest tracks.

Tim – I was reading online that you’ll be playing ‘One For The Vine’ and ‘Inside And Out’, which is an interesting selection.

Steve – Yes, ‘Inside And Out’ wasn’t on the original album, but if it had been a cd it would have been on the original album as I think it’s very strong. To my mind, stronger than some of the tracks that ended up on the album, but I think it’s a favourite of fans and deserves to be more widely heard, so we’ll be doing that as well and I’m looking forward to it.

Tim – What was your involvement in that track originally, from a writing viewpoint?

Steve – Mainly the instrumental stuff at the end. That and guitar parts in the song itself.

Tim – It has a kind of latter day ‘Cinema Show’ feel to it.

Steve – I think it has some aspects of that, in that it has 12-string then it expands away from that. It’s very much in the Genesis tradition – well shall we say early Genesis – where songs started small and became very big, so you’ve got that dynamic range being covered within a song that is also a story. I think that’s something the band did very well.

Tim – You did actually play it live towards the end of the 1977 tour didn’t you?

Steve – We did, we played it in 1977, it was part of the live show so it couldn’t have been so bad!

Tim – And ‘One For The Vine’, that’s another epic song isn’t it?

Steve – Yes it is an epic, it’s a favourite of many people, many fans including my wife who said ‘Why don’t you do that?’. I cracked under torture! I’m just kidding, seriously…..when I left the band I saw them playing it live a few years later at Hammersmith (1980), and I thought it was very very strong live – perhaps stronger than on record, it just seemed to work so very well. I thought, ah I finally see what this is all about, which is often the case, some songs work extremely well live, it’s all about the band, it’s all about the performance, the response of the crowd, the lights – the whole thing, the show, the presentation.

Tim – Will you be playing ‘In That Quiet Earth’, ‘Afterglow’?

Steve – Yes we will be doing ‘In That Quiet Earth’, ‘Afterglow’, we’ll be doing ‘Blood On The Rooftops’……what else, we’ll be doing ‘Eleventh Earl Of Mar’ again as well. We were doing that at the beginning of touring the Genesis stuff about three years ago, or was it four years ago, but then we sidelined it. To do a set of things from ‘Wind and Wuthering’ I think we really have to do that, I think that’s all of the ones that we’re doing…..the ones that are more dramatic live. I know there’s other songs on there which are catchy and what have you, but for my money that’s the strongest live stuff.

Tim – I also read you’re bringing ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’ back in?

Steve – That’s right, yes

Tim – And you’ll be playing ‘Anyway’ for the first time?

Steve – That’s right, yes, I’ll be playing ‘Anyway’ for the first time since 1975. Yes we haven’t done that one for a very long time, and I look forward to doing that one – at the suggestion of Nad funnily enough, he said why don’t you do that, so again I said ok if you like that. I think it’s a very good tune. I’m hoping I might be able to play the three-part guitar harmony because these days we have intelligent harmonisers, so I’m hoping I can get close to it, we’ll see how we go.

Tim – Will it be similar to the last tour where you do a set of solo material then a set of Genesis songs?

Steve – I’ve started a tradition of being two bands in one, I think. Whatever we play of the solo material – we’ll be doing some stuff off the new album – I’m fully aware what most fans tend to want is a reminder of what they were doing when their hormones were raging, and so the plan is to have one eye on the future and one on the past. I try to deliver all things to all people……

Tim – It seems you need to play two hours of solo stuff and two hours of Genesis then everyone will be happy!

Steve – Yep, I might get to that point, but I probably would have to have two bands, because I don’t think one band would be able to stand the pace of that….. then I’d be going one better than Bruce Springsteen wouldn’t I? Four hours on stage, we’re heading towards Wagner here if we do that.

Tim – Wishful thinking. There seems to be a trend these days of announcing part the setlist ahead of time. Is that promoter driven or fans wanting to know?

Steve – Yes, that’s true I seem to have given away most of the setlist off the top of my head. I think there’s a trend towards that, people like to know what they’re going get these days. It’s driven I think mainly by fans, so I’ve said I’ll do one of the tracks on ‘Darktown’ – ‘Rise Again’ – that was a favourite at the time and in a way it’s a vocal style I’ve adopted again on this new album – starting the melody down the octaves, a kind of intoning voice and then it becomes a cry. It’s a vocal style that I feel comfortable with, so very happy to be playing that. We’re also going to be doing ‘The Steppes’ – people have asked for that – and ‘Serpentine Song’ which I believe is off ‘To Watch The Storms’, another favourite. So, I do respond to people’s suggestions but I can’t keep everyone happy……

When we do the show with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra that’ll be a different set, that will involve ‘Supper’s Ready’ and various other things so we’re kind of learning two sets, kind of heading a little to what you were talking about, the three, four hour show, but often these sets end up being two and a half hours or slightly more.

Tim – We’re coming to the Buffalo show, so really looking forward to that.

Steve – I’m looking forward to that, I’m looking forward to the Cruise, I’m looking forward to the tour, to everywhere we’re going to play. I’m also looking forward next year to covering places I’ve not been to before like Australia, New Zealand, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Singapore – the world seems to be opening up to this music which has had quite a gestation period to achieve its…..if I said ‘target audience’- I mean hardly because back in the day it was all a shot in the dark. It’s nice that it’s survived in the affections of so many people.

Tim – It has matured with age?

Steve – I think so, yes, like a wine in a cask, I think for some songs the prime time is now, having been in that period of fermentation shall we say, fermenting in the affections of people for a very long time.

Tim – Going back to the Buffalo show, is there a lot of preparation work you have to do with the orchestra? I guess they’ll be reading sheet music?

Steve – Yes, they’ve been doing arrangements and there’s some arrangements which I played live when I was in Iceland doing two shows with the band called Todmobile – who have also worked with Jon Anderson, doing great versions of not just Genesis stuff, but Yes stuff as well. They did a great job, so there are some charts from that and some charts that the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra have come up with.

It’s all not so much dipping your toe in the water as jumping straight in. I love what orchestras bring to rock music, I love the marriage of the two. Ever since we started experimenting with mellotrons, using that as a kind of surrealistic time machine – I always felt that if for instance I talk about my early heroes The Beatles, they were at their most interesting when they had as wide a sound canvas as possible.

That use of the orchestra, the way it worked with them and obviously mellotron as well, it was a great combination of things, so we kind of use everything, anything we can lay our hands on. I think that’ll be a very interesting show. Obviously you have to take risks – the biggest risk is who’s going to count 1, 2, 3, 4? Normally it’s the drummer, will it be the conductor?! It all has to be in sync, you have to have an agreement with an orchestra.

Tim – Might this become more than a one-off venture?

Steve – Well it’s a one-off, but if it works of course it means that we have the facility and the possibility of working with this thing more in the future. Not that I would want to have an orchestra that I was carrying round – I don’t want to flounder on that rock – I think you’d have to use different orchestras in different places. But it is starting to happen with me more, I worked with an orchestra in Germany a while back, I worked with an orchestra or two in Iceland, and it went very well in both cases, and now we’re doing it with the Buffalo people. It’s all a case of the more risks you take, the more inclusive and immersive the whole thing can be.

Tim – So the Genesis days, 40 to 45 years ago now, six great studio albums you were involved with, as we’ve just been saying it seems to be getting better with age. At the time though was it a bit of a struggle, financially and personally?

Steve – Well yes, I think all bands have their problems, as you say to finance it…..to finance it there was a lot of investment, not just financial but emotional as well. But it was worth it, it was a huge challenge from beginning to end for me, but my heart is still very much there in lots of that music.

Tim – Why do you think maybe it isn’t for the other four?

Steve – I think in a way there are two types of Genesis. There is the earlier band, the pre-video era – I like to think of it as the pre-pop era as well – and many of the fans loved that music. In the end, for the last two years with the band we were playing arenas and filling them, so there was a huge audience for that kind of music, so I think it proved itself to be hugely commercial and has sold ‘billions’ since. It all depends on your perception, I can understand it in terms of a band that becomes more streamlined, less personalities, less politics……and so I think it’s very easy to throw out the baby with the bath water and for them say everything prior to that time was a problem because of da da da da da……

But I don’t think fans see it like that, and many fans that love the early work of the band – who I suspect are the same fans who listened to Pink Floyd and Yes, and ELP and Procol Harum and many bands who were very melodic with an emphasis on musicianship. I think that they felt disenfranchised by the new direction of the band, but I’m certainly not going to complain, because once you leave a band it’s going to become whatever it becomes, and I totally respect what it became and think the band was interesting in all its incarnations but obviously I’m drawn to something that is closer in spirit to this pan-genre approach which includes what orchestras can do and what big bands can do, and a kind of music that is able to turn on a dime and bridge generation gaps and do all sorts of things that I think a three or four minute pop single doesn’t do.

So all I can say is that I’m interested in prolonging the life – certainly live – of the music that I considered to be weird and wonderful and a kind of musical odyssey and journey and all those things that Peter Gabriel still describes it as. There’s a lot of good stuff, and I’m only too happy to go and play that stuff again.

Tim – Would you say that ‘Voyage of the Acolyte’ sowed the seed that maybe you’d rather go out solo on your own?

Steve – Well I think certainly composition by committee has its limitations for groups. I think groups can write wonderful things together, but at the same time it’s impossible to keep a lid on it. If one guy wants to go and do solo things, and you know the others don’t really want him to go and do it…… Pete wanted to have a solo career in parallel with Genesis and certain factions in the band made that impossible, so in the end one’s allegiance has to be to the music, or the totality of what music can become – at the same time it doesn’t mean that I disown those songs, those songs don’t become orphans just because I say ‘no son of mine’ (to quote a particular song).

I still love those songs, they’re all shared-brain children with the other guys and I care hugely about them, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing them again.

Tim – Have you had any feedback from the others? Have they seen the show at all?

Steve – No no, the other guys don’t come to the shows. Genesis is a very competitive band, the individuals are all very competitive.

Tim – Even now?

Steve – Yes, they don’t do that sort of thing, it’s an unspoken rule. You have to be able to speak ‘Genesis’ to understand it, and I totally respect it you know, if you’re that competitive with your thinking you won’t do that. I think everyone wants the other guy to do well, but maybe just not quite as well as you’re doing yourself if you know what I mean? It’s a very British repressed fucked up kind of thing, but hey, what the hell.

Tim – So ‘Wind and Wuthering’ is forty years old, when you recorded it was the writing truly on the wall for you?

Steve – Oh yes, the writing was on the wall for me at that time I think, it wasn’t that I didn’t love the album – I certainly thought the album was very strong, but politics played its part with all of this, and you can’t keep a good Hackett down! I had to get out there and work with other people, I couldn’t have still-born brain children and that was what was on offer so I had to go out and work with other people. Wonderful people as it happens, wonderful then and wonderful now.

I still love all the guys of course, all hugely talented and they’ve all written wonderful songs and done wonderful stuff, you can’t knock that you know. Genesis was a force of nature, it’s sad there is no band at the moment but you’ve got to respect everyone’s right not to play that stuff or not to be that thing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate those early years because I gave it everything I could, gave it my full attention, writing and shaping the live show and trying to do some things by stealth – noticing things that other people didn’t notice, trying to put those things right. I’m writing a book at the moment, so I’ll put the record straight for all those that have collective amnesia with this.

Tim – Great, I was going to ask about an autobiography as it’s been a few years since Alan Hewitt’s book.

Steve – Yes, I’m working on it at the moment, once I’ve got the album out of the way I’ll be concentrating on that.

Tim – You’re always so busy.

Steve – I’m a busy boy, yes!

Tim – I’m sure it’ll be a very interesting read, I did enjoy Mike Rutherford’s, Phil Collins’ and Peter Gabriel’s recent books.

Steve – Yes, Phil has just done his and I enjoyed reading their books and I’ll get my own back with mine!

Tim – Is there any thought to doing any more studio recordings of Genesis material?

Steve – I’ve got it on a back-burner, but it’s not a priority at the moment. There are many things that we’ve done live that I haven’t recorded, or re-recorded, so there’s always the possibility of that at some point but I’m not looking at ‘Genesis Revisited 3’ at the moment. I think it’s also important for music to have a future, much as it’s nice to keep the museum doors open, I think to pension yourself off is not a good idea if you’re hot to trot in terms of new stuff – look what guitars can do now for instance, look what technology affords one and what experience brings to it, so I’m still as passionate about it all as I ever was.

Tim – It sounds like you have a nice balance between creating new music and celebrating the past?

Steve – Oh well that’s it, that’s the whole point isn’t it? I think if I saw for instance a Paul McCartney gig, I know I’d be very happy to hear him do ‘Band On The Run’, but I’d also be very happy if he breaks into ‘Eleanor Rigby’ you know, and ‘All My Loving’ and all that – I think they’re gorgeous songs from out of the jewel box.

I have much the same affection for the songs that I think were rather wonderful that we did at one time – I’m allowed to be a fan of the other people in the band, a team of great writers who came up with wonderful stunning material and it’s great to have been part of that, it’s great to have written with everybody.

Tim – It’s important that you’re keeping it alive.

Steve – That’s the idea, keeping it alive.

Tim – Great Steve, thanks for you time tonight, looking forward to seeing you in Oakville and Buffalo next year.

Steve – Brilliant, I look forward to it as well, absolutely. Thank you.

————————————————————————–

For all the latest Steve Hackett news visit Steve’s website.

Steve Hackett 2017 Tour Dates:

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Read my April 2016 interview with Steve Hackett here.

Read my Steve Hackett 2016 Live review and see photos here.

 

Steve Hackett Announces 2017 UK Tour

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Steve Hackett has announced a 15-date UK Tour to coincide with the release of his as yet untitled new studio album. 2017 also marks the 40th Anniversary of Genesis’ classic ‘Wind And Wuthering’ album – the last studio album to feature Steve – and several songs from this album will be performed by Steve and his band. Once again, the tour will consist of Genesis and solo material, and is being billed as ‘Genesis Revisited With Classic Hackett 2017’.

Further US/Canada dates are expected before the UK Tour, as Steve will be on the 2017 version of ‘Cruise To The Edge’ in February, and a date with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on 3rd March has already been announced.

The full press release from Steve’s HackettSongs website is below:

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett 2017 tour

Steve Hackett Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett 2017
2017 UK & Ireland tour dates revealed… other countries to follow!

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited with Hackett Classics 2017 tour

Performing tracks from the classic album Wind and Wuthering

New album due spring 2017!

2017 UK & Ireland tour dates revealed…

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 Revisted with Classic Hackett’ is a tour not to missed in 2017.

April 2017

  • 26 April – Vicar Street, DUBLIN, IRELAND
  • 28 April – St. David’s Hall, CARDIFF, UK
  • 30 April – Hexagon, Reading UK
  • 1 May – Symphony Hall, BIRMINGHAM, UK
  • 3 May – City Hall, SHEFFIELD, UK
  • 4 May – Colston Hall, BRISTOL, UK
  • 5 May – Bridgewater Hall, MANCHESTER, UK
  • 7 May – Philharmonic, LIVERPOOL, UK
  • 8 May – Guildhall, PORTSMOUTH, UK
  • 10 May – Cliffs Pavilion, SOUTHEND, UK
  • 11 May – Royal Concert Hall, NOTTINGHAM, UK
  • 13 May – New Theatre, OXFORD, UK
  • 14 May – Corn Exchange, CAMBRIDGE, UK
  • 16 May – Royal Concert Hall, GLASGOW, UK
  • 17 May – Sage, GATESHEAD, UK
  • 19 May – Palladium, LONDON, UK

Steve Hackett – The Total Experience Live In Liverpool

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Released on InsideOut Music this Summer, ‘The Total Experience Live In Liverpool – Acolyte to Wolflight with Genesis Classics’ provides us with a welcome souvenir from Steve Hackett’s  2015/2016 ‘Acolyte to Wolflight’ tour. Review of the 2 x dvd / 2 x cd version by Tim Darbyshire.

My review of the 2016 Canadian shows can be found here

My interview with Steve from Quebec 2016 is here.

After touring Genesis material exclusively in  2013 – 2014,  Steve Hackett returned to the stage in 2015 with a new stage show.  With 2015 marking the 40th Anniversary of Steve’s debut solo album ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’, and the release of his latest studio album ‘Wolflight’, the first set was based around these albums.  The second set featured Genesis material, a lot of which Steve and band hadn’t played in 2013 – 2014, including a welcome outing for ‘The Cinema Show’.

For the first time, Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Jon Anderson) was added to the touring line up on bass, replacing Nick Beggs who was unavailable due to his Steven Wilson touring commitments.  Long time band members Roger King (keyboards), Rob Townsend (wind), Gary O’Toole (drums) and Nad Sylvan (vocals) once again provided the support for Steve. At the filmed Liverpool show, Amanda Lehmann and brother John Hackett were also welcome special guests.

After kicking off with the timeless instrumental ‘Spectral Mornings’, the bulk of the ‘Wolflight’ material  – with Steve handling the lead vocal – was well received.  ‘Every Day’ – always a favourite on every tour since 1979 – is played in the middle of the new material and flautist John Hackett makes a welcome return to duet with his older brother on ‘Jacuzzi’. The big surprise in the solo set list was ‘Icarus Ascending’ from 1978’s ‘Please Don’t Touch’ album, with Nad Sylvan ably handling Richie Havens’ original evocative vocals.  ‘Star of Sirius’, ‘Ace of Wands’ and a heavier than usual ‘A Tower Struck Down’  – all from ‘Voyage Of The Acolyte’ – lead into the full version of ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’ with guest Amanda Lehmann providing the vocals.

Set 2 is the Genesis material. Again Steve sets the bar high by selecting lesser played songs, and surely surprises all Genesis die-hards by including ‘The Cinema Show’, the second half of which is perennially seen as a Collins-Banks-Rutherford workout. Other highlights are the woefully underrated ‘Can-Utility And The Coastliners’ from 1972’s ‘Foxtrot’ and ‘After The Ordeal’ from ‘Selling England By The Pound’, which was never performed live by Genesis. Total familiarity is restored with stage favourites ‘The Musical Box’ and the encore ‘Firth of Fifth’.

With the show split into 2 sets, plus encores,  the concert is approaching nearly 3 hours in total. It’s nigh on impossible to cover over forty years of Steve’s solo material plus Genesis classics into one evening, especially with a new album to promote too. This said, I don’t think anyone can have any complaints about the selections played.

Of course, the dvd is very well filmed, with multi-angles highlighting the prowess of the band’s technique and the imaginative light show makes this dvd pleasurable viewing as well as an accurate reminder of the live show itself. The concert film is contained on the first dvd, and the bulk of the second dvd is comprised of a behind the scenes documentary and rehearsal  footage, with 3 music videos from the ‘Wolflight’ album completing the content.  It’s a must buy for anyone who attended the shows in 2015/2016, will surely be of interest to all Hackett fans and is a welcome addition to the oeuvre.

As 2017 fast approaches, Steve is showing no signs of slowing down. He is currently busy working on his 18th solo studio album, and tour dates are starting to be announced. Already confirmed is a welcome return to the 2017 edition of ‘Cruise To The Edge’ in February, and an intriguing date in Buffalo in March with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. More North American dates are to be added around this time – hopefully to include Canada again!

The package itself is a high quality 8-panel digipak, in a similar style to the recent releases ‘Live At Hammersmith’ and ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’. There’s no booklet included, but it’s a minor gripe…..This release is also available as a single blu-ray disc with the same content.

Order from HackettSongs.com, or Burning Shed.

Line Up:

Steve Hackett – Guitar, Vocals
Roger King – Keyboards
Nad Sylvan – Vocals, Tambourine
Gary O’Toole – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Rob Townsend – Saxophone, Woodwind, Percussion, Vocals, Keyboards, Bass Pedals
Roine Stolt – Bass, Variax, Twelve String, Vocals, Guitar

With special guests: John Hackett, Amanda Lehmann

2CD/2DVD Digipak Track listing

CD 1:
1 Corycian Fire Intro
2. Spectral Mornings
3. Out of the Body
4. Wolflight
5. Every Day
6. Love Song to a Vampire
7. The Wheel’s Turning
8. Loving Sea
9. Jacuzzi
10. Icarus Ascending
11. Star of Sirius
12. Ace of Wands
13. A Tower Struck Down

CD 2:
1 Shadow of the Hierophant
2. Get ’em Out by Friday
3. Can-Utility and the Coastliners
4. After the Ordeal
5. The Cinema Show
6. Aisle of Plenty
7. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
8. The Musical Box
9. Clocks
10. Firth of Fifth

DVD 1:
Full concert as per track listing on CD1 and CD2

DVD 2:
Live in Liverpool – Behind the Scenes
Somewhere South of the River – Rehearsal Documentary
Videos:
– Corycian Fire
– Wolflight
– Love Song to a Vampire

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Steve Hackett – Exclusive 2017 Genesis show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

 

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According to  HackettSongs.com, Steve Hackett and his band  will be performing a ‘Genesis Revisited’ show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) as part of the BPO Rocks season.  Tickets are already on sale for the March 3rd 2017 show, available from the BPO website.

The only details on HackettSongs describes the show as follows: Exclusive Genesis show with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra with Steve and his band on March 3!  Following the Cruise Feb 7-11, Steve will also be playing various N American dates all to be arranged shortly. Watch This Space!
Kleinhans Music Hall, Friday 3 March 2017, 8:00pm…

Other than Steve’s welcome return to the 2017 edition of ‘Cruise To The Edge‘, no confirmed North American dates have been announced yet, just hoping Canada is once again included in the tour which will presumably be around mid February to March 2017.

The BPO website adds little detail, other than to muddy the waters slightly with the following: Genesis lead guitarist and rock innovator Steve Hackett displays his chops in the world premiere of his symphony show, concert featuring Genesis classics and solo hits.  

Whether the show is Genesis exclusively or Genesis with Solo material, the chance to see Steve performing these songs with an orchestra is not to be missed.

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Steve Hackett – Live in Quebec/Montreal/Gatineau 2016

Just four months after last visiting Ontario, Steve Hackett made a welcome return to Canada last weekend with three shows as part of the 2016 leg of his ‘Acolyte To Wolflight’ tour – Quebec Grand Theatre 8th April, Theatre Maisonneuve Place Des Arts, Montreal 9th April, and Theatre du Casino, Gatineau 10th April.

Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire

Three nights in a row with Steve Hackett and his band, three blistering shows and three wildly enthusiastic audiences – there is absolutely no doubt, French Canada loves its prog bands!

As with the first leg of the ‘Acolyte To Wolflight’ tour in 2015,  the show was divided into two halves, the first was the solo material with Steve and band showcasing tracks from the 2015 album ‘Wolflight’ as well as his first album ‘Voyage of the Acolyte’ (released in 1975). Favourites from 1978’s ‘Please Don’t Touch’ and 1979’s ‘Spectral Mornings’ complimented the set. From the opening sounds of ‘Spectral Mornings’ through to the closing bars of a rousing ‘Shadow Of The Heirophant’ Steve had the crowd totally under his spell.

The second set was primarily Genesis numbers, crowd-pleasers ‘Firth of Fifth’,  ‘The Musical Box’  and ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ alongside a welcome addition of ‘The Cinema Show’ and deeper cuts like ‘Can-utility and the Coastliners’ and ‘After The Ordeal’.  The highlight for me was ‘The Cinema Show’, with Roger King outdoing Tony Banks during the instrumental workout.

By the time the band left the stage after the encores of ‘Clocks’ and ‘Firth Of Fifth’ nearly three hours had passed, and I struggle to recall an audience as enthusiastic for the material as those in Quebec and Montreal especially.

Steve will be continuing work on a new studio album (among  other projects) after this tour, and we have the ‘Live In Liverpool’ DVD from the ‘Acolyte To Wolflight’ tour to look forward to around June of this year.

Let’s hope we see Steve back in Canada before too long……

 

Friday 8th April – Grand Theatre Quebec

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Saturday 9th April – Theatre Maisonneuve, Place Des Arts,  Montreal

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Sunday 10th – Casino du Lac Leamy, Gatineau

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Band Line up and Setlist (all 3 nights)

Steve Hackett – Guitar, Vocals
Roger King – Keyboards
Nad Sylvan – Vocals
Roine Stolt – Bass, Guitar
Rob Townsend – Flute, sax, keyboards
Gary O’Toole – Drums, Vocals

Setlist:
Set 1
Intro/Spectral Mornings
Out of the Body
Wolflight
Every Day
Love Song to a Vampire
The Wheel’s Turning
Loving Sea
Icarus Ascending
Star of Sirius
Ace of Wands
A Tower Struck Down
Shadow of the Heirophant

Set 2
Get ’em Out by Friday
Can-Utility and the Coastliners
After the Ordeal
The Cinema Show/Aisle of Plenty
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Musical Box

Encores:
Clocks – The Angel Of Mons
Firth of Fifth

 

 

 

The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

 

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The Mute Gods – ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ is Nick Beggs’ collaboration with Roger King (keyboards) and Marco Minneman (drums) and is out now on Inside Out Records – Review by Tim Darbyshire

Nick Beggs is a busy man. Aside from touring and appearing on record with Steve Hackett and Steven Wilson seemingly almost constantly between 2009 and 2016, forming and recording an album with the excellent band Lifesigns (2013), joining Belgian band Fish On Friday (2014) – and these are just the prog related projects – he has now formed The Mute Gods with Roger King and Marco Minneman.

The division of labour is intriguing – Nick of course plays bass and stick but also handles the vocal duties as well as contributing guitar and keyboards. Roger provides keyboards, guitars, backing vocals and production, and Marco also contributes guitar along with his distinctive drumming style and ‘sound design’. Contributions are also made by Frank Van Bogaert, Nick D’Virgilio, Adam Holzman, Gary O’Toole, Rob Reed and Ricky Wilde.

Nick Beggs has spent a lot of time on tour with Roger (Steve Hackett) and Marco (Steven Wilson) over the last few years, and the result of this collaboration with these talented artists is a concept album of sorts – “a rather disgruntled rant at the dystopia we’ve created for ourselves and our children” according to Nick on The Mute Gods website.  Much of the subject matter concerns governments, corporations, religion and news media – conspiracies, cover-ups, scaremongering – and the fact we seem to be losing sight of what’s important in this life.

As expected from such a trio, the album is stylistically varied, experimental in places and expertly delivered. The music ranges from out and out prog (‘Swimming Horses‘, ‘Strange Relationship’) to catchy pop rock (‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me‘), with mellow interludes (‘Father Daughter‘, ‘Nightschool For Idiots‘) and extensive instrumental workouts (‘In The Crosshairs‘).  As with a lot of this kind of music, the cd is a grower….more and more detail is heard and appreciated on the second, third and fourth listens. The highlight for me is the beautiful closing song ‘Father Daughter‘ (see video below) featuring Nick’s eldest daughter Lula. To me this sounds like a reconnection and hope for the future after the preceding disconnection.

It’s a bit of a no-brainer that most fans of modern progressive rock will enjoy this album – and rightly so.  Nick deserves to be in the limelight for a change after many years backing up high profile musicians. Available now in limited edition digipack cd and double vinyl.

Track listing:

1 ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’

2 ‘Praying To a Mute God’

3 ‘Nightschool For Idiots’

4 ‘Feed The Troll’

5 ‘Your Dark Ideas’

6 ‘Last Man On Earth’ (bonus track on digipack cd release)

7 ‘In The Crosshairs’

8 ‘Strange Relationship’

9 ‘Swimming Horses’

10 ‘Mavro Capelo’ (bonus track on digipack cd release)

11 ‘Father Daughter’