Steve Hackett Sells England By the Pound – Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI – 10/3/19

Steve Hackett, Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI, October 3, 2019
Band:
Steve Hackett, Nad Sylvan, Craig Blundell, Jonas Reingold, Rob Townsend, Roger King

Setlist:
Set 1
Every Day
Under the Eye of the Sun
Fallen Walls and Pedestals
Beasts in Our Time
The Virgin and the Gypsy
Tigermoth
Spectral Mornings
The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
Clocks – The Angel of Mons

Set 2
Dancing With the Moonlit Knight
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
Firth of Fifth
More Fool Me
The Battle of Epping Forest
After the Ordeal
The Cinema Show
Aisle of Plenty
Deja Vu
Dance on a Volcano

Encore
Los Endos

I had been looking forward to this concert ever since I bought tickets at the beginning of the year. I had never seen Steve Hackett live, but it had been at the top of my bucket list for a while. He’s my favorite guitarist, and I’ve loved all of the recent Genesis Revisited live albums. I consider Selling England By the Pound to be one of the finest albums ever made, so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see Mr. Hackett and company perform it live. They didn’t disappoint.

During the first half of the show, the band played highlights from Hackett’s 1979 solo album Spectral Mornings and this year’s At the Edge of Light. The whole set was very strong, but I particularly enjoyed Craig Blundell’s drum solo. Some drum solos can be a little boring, but not this one. Very engaging, interesting, and complex. The opening “Every Day” really highlighted the light and airy style of Hackett’s solo music, while “Beasts In Our Time” showed how heavy his music can be. Jonas Reingold’s bass was exceptional all night, but the bass line on “Under the Eye of the Sun” really allowed his talent to shine.

Continue reading “Steve Hackett Sells England By the Pound – Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI – 10/3/19”

The Big 2019 Fall Prog (Plus) Preview!

What new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe or super-deluxe) and tours are heading our way between now and All Hallows Eve?  Check out the exhaustive (and potentially exhausting) sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below.  Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the musicians.

 

 

  • August:
    • Dave Kerzner, Static Live Extended Edition: recorded at the 2017 Progstock festival.  Kerzner’s complete Static album in concert, plus selected live highlights & new studio tracks.  Pre-orders ship in late August.
  • August 30:
    • Sons of Apollo, Live with the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony: recorded at Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s Roman amphitheatre (the site of previous live efforts from Anathema and Devin Townsend).  Available in Blu-Ray, 3 CD + Blu-Ray, and 3 CD + DVD + Blu Ray versions.
    • Tool, Fear Inoculum: Tool’s first album in 13 years.  Available via digital download, as well as “a deluxe, limited-edition CD version (which) features a 4” HD rechargeable screen with exclusive video footage, charging cable, 2 watt speaker, a 36-page booklet and a digital download card.”  Really. 

Continue reading “The Big 2019 Fall Prog (Plus) Preview!”

The Vampirate Speaks: A Conversation With Nad Sylvan

Nad Sylvan, The Regal Bastard, InsideOut Music, 2019

Tracks: 1. I Am The Sea (7:49), 2. Oahu (4:19), 3. Whoa (Always Been Without You) (7:22), 4. Meet Your Maker (6:36), 5. The Regal Bastard (12:22), 6. Leave Me On These Waters (5:49), 7. Honey I’m Home (3:02)
Bonus Tracks: 8. Diva Time (4:52), 9. The Lake Isle of Innisfree (3:43)

On July 5, the mighty Nad Sylvan releases the third in his trilogy of Vampirate themed albums, following 2015’s Courting the Widow and 2017’s The Bride Said NoThe Regal Bastard finds the Swedish artist subtly transforming his sound for a third time. Across all three albums, his sound has developed and matured while remaining distinctly Nad Sylvan. Nobody else makes music quite like this. He honors the tradition of progressive rock (can a tradition be progressive?) musically and lyrically. The music is complex without being overly technical, and it shifts in style enough to keep the album incredibly interesting on repeated listens. In fact, it is layered in such a way that the listener discovers more with each listen.

Some have commented that some of the songs take a bit more of a pop approach, and if that’s true, then it is in the vein of Steven Wilson’s definition of pop, not whatever trash is currently sitting atop the American top 40 charts. This music is tasteful. And it is still 100% prog.

It is hard to nail down particular stand-out tracks because every song is fantastic. “Whoa,” “Meet Your Maker,” and the bonus “Diva Time” are my personal favorites, but the longer “The Regal Bastard” is also a very compelling progressive piece. You can’t go wrong anywhere on this album. His guest artists, which include the likes of Steve Hackett, Guthrie Govan, Nick D’Virgilio, Tony Levin, and many other talented folks, interpret Nad’s music faithfully while adding their own touch. Jade Ell, Sheona Urquhart, and  Tania Doko return on backing vocals – their voices have helped add depth to Nad’s music in the past, and it is great to hear them return.

2019 has been an especially strong year for prog so far, and even in that environment, Nad Sylvan’s The Regal Bastard stands out. His music is unique and powerful. This is not an album to be missed.


This past Friday, June 28, 2019, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Nad via Skype about the album, his writing process, singing for Steve Hackett, and other related topics. I screen-captured the whole interview, but even the compressed video file is too big for WordPress’ liking. You can still listen to the audio or read the transcript, which has been very lightly edited for readability, although it is wholly uncensored.

Continue reading “The Vampirate Speaks: A Conversation With Nad Sylvan”

Happy Birthday Steve Hackett @HackettOfficial

Progarchy wishes a huge happy birthday to the world’s greatest guitarist – Mr. Steve Hackett! Thanks for all the music over the years, and we hope you continue your current creative explosion for years to come.

Be sure to pick up Steve’s latest album, At the Edge of Light: https://store.hackettsongs.com

 

Steve Hackett North American Tour Dates

I finished yesterday’s review of Steve Hackett’s new album At the Edge of Light like so:

Here’s hoping his 2019 tour (also featuring Spectral Mornings and Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound) crosses the pond to North America!

Not even 24 hours later, here are Hackett’s complete North American tour dates.  Note that the Quebec, Oakville, Montreal and Vancouver shows are already on sale.  Direct links for tickets are included with the official listing on Hackett’s Tour Dates page.

  • 12 September – Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda, NY (Onsale 1 February)
  • 13 September – State Theatre, Ithaca, NY (Onsale 1 February)
  • 15 September – Grand Theatre de Quebec, Quebec, CANADA
  • 17-18 September – Oakville Centre for Performing Arts, Oakville, CANADA
  • 20 September – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, CANADA (Onsale 1 February)
  • 21 September – Place des Arts Theatre Maisonneuve, Montreal, CANADA – * SOLD OUT *
  • 22 September – Place des Arts Theatre Maisonneuve, Montreal, CANADA
  • 24 September – Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA (Onsale 1 February; Pre-sale code: BOSTON)
  • 25 September – Beacon Theatre, NYC, NY (Onsale 1 February)
  • 26 September – The Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT (Onsale 1 February)
  • 27-28 September – Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA (Onsale 1 February)
  • 1 October – Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, Munhall, PA (Onsale 1 February; pre-sale code: musichall)
  • 2 October – Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, OH (Onsale 1 February)
  • 3 October – 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI  US (Onsale 1 February)
  • 4 October – The Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, US (Onsale 1 February; pre-sale code: GENESIS)
  • 5 October – The Copernicus Center, Chicago, IL (Onsale 8 February)
  • 7 October – Pantages Theatre of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN (Onsale 1 February; Pre-sale code: WALRUS)
  • 10 October – Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA (Onsale 1 February; pre-sale code: WALRUS)
  • 11 October – Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, CANADA
  • 12 October – Revolution Hall, Portland, OR (Onsale 1 February)
  • 16 October – Fox Tucson Theatre, Tucson, AZ, US – Ticket link to follow
  • 17 October – The Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ (Onsale 8 February)
  • 18 October – Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (Onsale 1 February)
  • 19 October – Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA – Ticket link to follow
  • 20 October – Fox Theater, Oakland, CA (Onsale 1 February)

 

— Rick Krueger

Steve Hackett, At the Edge of Light

This is Steve Hackett at his best: inventive, exciting and utterly musical.  At the Edge of Light features his most consistent singing yet, typically dazzling guitar work, and bracing new compositions  — driven at high velocity through unexpected twists, turns and switchbacks to surprising, satisfying destinations.

Admittedly, the album kicks off in a familiar place with “Fallen Walls and Pedestals”: a spacious stomp a la Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” or Hackett’s “The Steppes”, with sinuous riffs anchoring keening melodies and high-velocity shredding.  Hackett’s guitar croons above Roger King’s plush keyboards and orchestrations over a hard-driving rhythm section — there’s even an exotic intro by Malik Mansurov on tar.  So far, so fine — but then Hackett, King and company head off-road and ditch the map!

From there, I defy anyone to predict what’s coming next.  “Beasts in Our Time’s” creepy orchestral decadence slams into desolate guitar/vocal laments for a world on the brink and scarifying solos by saxophonist Rob Townsend and Hackett, collapsing in an atonal heap after a brutal uptempo shuffle.  The gospel flavored “Underground Railroad” plows through rich, soulful singing by Durga and Lorelei McBroom, dobro-based grooves and steaming locomotive boogie, morphing from menace to triumph for the soaring playout.  Hackett and sitarist Sheema Mukherjee evoke the banks of India’s Ganges River on “Shadow and Flame”; “Hungry Years” is a killer pop song with tight harmonies, Byrds-flavored electric 12-string, and a guitar solo fade that paradoxically builds and builds … and builds …

It’s the way Hackett mixes, matches and juxtaposes his ingredients that makes this new material so thrilling.  “Those Golden Wings” is another prime example: Hackett tosses off flamenco flourishes in a minor key, joined by King’s cushion of strings.  Then a chugging major-key orchestral riff ramps up, as Nick d’Virgilio’s meaty beat propels the song forward under the lead vocal.  An instrumental verse with more electric 12-string hops to a different minor key, then stops dead for an ambient string/chorus interlude.  Then a dose of “spacious guitar stomp”, an electric 12-string reprise, a final vocal verse, another flamenco solo, more strings and chorus — and one last extended stomp, as both Hackett and d’Virgilio rock out for the fade.  Whew!

And though there’s plenty of darkness afoot in these songs, Hackett holds out for the dawn, as portrayed in the album’s devastating concluding triptych. “Descent” evokes Gustav Holst’s “Mars” with pulsing strings, punishing power chords and howling feedback; “Conflict” is lashed with dark orchestral riffs and plummeting guitar spirals over a doomy mechanical loop.  But then comes “Peace” — a gorgeous piano-based ballad, with Hackett stepping up for what may be his best vocal ever.  And even “Peace” defies any expectations of Genesis’ “Afterglow” redone, easing into a power groove with mass choir vocals, whipsawing through a solo verse over reharmonized changes, melding chordal guitar plunges with the chorale.  Then freezing on one note.  Then a final, ravishing Hackett solo over the orchestra, hanging in your memory even after the last string chord reluctantly resolves.

I’m in total agreement with fellow Progarchist Bryan Morey here: At the Edge of Light is audacious, gorgeous, humanistic in the best sense of the word, powerful, musically deep — in sum, outright brilliant.  After just a couple of listens, it’s easily my favorite album from Steve Hackett’s creative resurgence of the past decade; in fact, it may be my favorite Hackett album since 1979’s Spectral Mornings.  Here’s hoping his 2019 tour (also featuring Spectral Mornings and Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound) crosses the pond to North America!  In the meantime, listen for yourself:

 

— Rick Krueger

Bryan’s Best of 2018

Earlier this year, I questioned whether or not 2018 was going to be a poor year for prog. It seemed like the the progressive rock community took a few months to stop and take a collective breath… but that was only the breath before the plunge. The second half of the year saw many excellent new releases. The following are some of my favorites from 2018, in no particular order (my top two at the bottom of this list are tied for first place).

Continue reading “Bryan’s Best of 2018”