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”

Lightning Round Reviews: November 1-9, 2018

In case you hadn’t noticed, the last quarter of 2018 has put paid to any perceived drought of new releases & reissues.  Capsule reviews of what I’ve been listening to since the first of this month follow the jump; albums are reviewed in descending order on my Personal Proggyness Perception (PPP) scale, scored from 0 to 10.

Continue reading “Lightning Round Reviews: November 1-9, 2018”

The Big Fall Prog Preview!

What new music, live albums, and reissues (deluxe and otherwise) are heading our way between now and Black Friday?  Check out the exhaustive (and possibly exhausting) sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with a few other personal priorities — below.  Pre-order links are for CDs or combo packages; vinyl editions are frequently available from the same website.

  • September 21:
    • Marillion, Happiness is Cologne and Popular Music.  Limited edition live reissues from Racket Records and earMusic.  Pre-order at Amazon or other online retailers.
    • Nosound, Allow Yourself.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
  • September 28:
    • Blackfield, Open Mind (The Best of Blackfield).  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
    • Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin, Star Clocks.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
  • October 5:
    • Steve Hackett, Broken Skies – Outspread Wings (1984-2006).  Esoteric Recordings reissue box set (6 CDs + 2 DVDs).  Pre-order autographed copies from Hackettsongs.
    • King Crimson, Meltdown: Live in Mexico.  3 CDs + 1 BluRay.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
  • October 12:
    • Glass Hammer, Chronomonaut.  Pre-order autographed copies or the deluxe bundle from Glass Hammer’s webstore.  Pre-order deadline: October 11.
    • Sanguine Hum, Now We Have Power.  Pre-order from Bandcamp.
  • October 19:
    • Greta Van Fleet, Anthem of the Peaceful Army.  The first full-length album from Frankenmuth, Michigan’s young Zepheads.  Pre-order at GvF’s webstore.
    • iamthemorning, Ocean Sounds.  Live in the studio; audio/video bundle.  Pre-order at Burning Shed.
    • In Continuum, Acceleration Theory.  With Dave Kerzner and an all-star line-up.  Pre-order bundles from Bandcamp. Pre-order deadline for special bundles: September 30.
    • Frank Sinatra, Only the Lonely: 60th Anniversary Edition.  Yes, really.  The greatest concept album of the pre-rock era, with Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle at their most gorgeous and devastating.  “Make it one for my baby … and one more for the road.” More info at Super Deluxe Edition.
  • October 26:
    • Anathema, Internal Landscapes.  The best of the band’s Kscope albums.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
    • Haken, Vector.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
    • Procol Harum, Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.  Esoteric Recordings reissue with bonus tracks.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
  • November 2:
    • Opeth, Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  Various audio & video formats/bundles available.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
    • Steven Wilson, Home Invasion: In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.  Various audio & video formats/bundles available.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
  • November 9:
    • Jethro Tull, This Was — The 50th Anniversary Edition. Steven Wilson remix included, on 3 CDs + DVD.  Pre-order from Burning Shed.
    • Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly, Friendship.  Pre-order from Rikard’s webstore.
  • November 16:
    • Marillion, Brave Live and Live in Glasgow.  Limited edition live reissues from Racket Records and earMusic.  Pre-order at Amazon or other online retailers.
    • The Tangent, Proxy.  Pre-order special bundles from The Tangent webstore.
  • November 23:
    • Marillion, Clutching at Straws Special Edition.  4 CDs + 1 BluRay.  Pre-order autographed copies from Marillion or Fish.
  • TBA:
    • The Beatles, White Album 50th Anniversary Edition?
    • Big Big Train, Merchants of Light Blu-Ray
    • King Crimson, The ReConstruKction of Light (40th Anniversary reissue) and Heaven and Earth (Crimson ProjeKcts box set)

— Rick Krueger

Steve Hackett: The Progarchy Interview

Yesterday I had the immense pleasure and privilege of talking by phone with Steve Hackett as he prepares for his 2018 Tour de Force.  Over the course of 30 minutes, Steve was genial, gracious and forthcoming.  He talked about life on a prog rock cruise, his busy agenda for this year, the musicians he works with, his take on where progressive music might be heading, and much more.  Steve’s words (slightly edited for clarity and organized by topic) follow!

About this year’s Cruise to the Edge:

“Absolutely marvelous.  I think this was our fourth Cruise, as was the case for many of the acts, and I think everyone said this time they felt that it was the best of the lot, because so many people knew each other, familiar faces.  They have a boatload of about 3,000 people.  In the end, when you’ve done this thing before, people just keep coming back, and saying, ‘Oh, hi, Steve.’ ‘Hi, Fred.’ All that is just wonderful, it’s mind-boggling, it’s like a sort of brotherhood on the briny, on the high seas.  It’s wonderful that these cruises have become such a success.   I get to hook up with all sorts of extraordinary pals, such as the guys from Marillion and all the Yes guys, of course, and Martin Barre of Jethro Tull, and so many.  So there’s a great camaraderie amongst everybody, so we all got time to hang out together, see each other’s shows, and it’s become a great tradition.”

ctte kerzner hackett

About sitting in and collaborations:

“I sat in with Dave Kerzner on the Cruise, I’ve played on a couple of albums of his.  In a way, I think there’s this thing about helping each other out, as I say, this brotherhood feeling.  And he’s tremendously hard working, he’s done so many things recently, and it’s great.  He often says, ‘Ooh, I’ve got such and such, do you feel like using that?’ in his studio.  Between all of us, we’ve got a ton of contacts and we help each other.  It’s a great time in rock & roll, it’s very much everyone’s feeding everyone else, it’s really very good.”

“We played a version of this thing called ‘Stranded,’ which was on his first album.  It was a poolside thing where we did that at night, but it really took off.  I’m hoping we see a film of it at some point.”  [Here’s Steve’s solo from the end of ‘Stranded,” as played on Cruise to the Edge 2018.  Thanks to Dave Kerzner, guitarist extraordinaire Fernando Perdomo, and Fernando’s friend Cyndi for supplying the video!]

 

“I think perhaps it’s a case of having been in the industry for a certain amount of time, where the people remember me via Genesis or GTR or solo stuff, or whatever it happens to be.  Over and above that, I’ve worked with a tremendous amount of artists, showing up, doing the solos.  Not always guitar – sometimes it’s harmonica or other strange things that I get asked to do, and if I can fit it into the schedule, I like doing it.  I’ve worked with all sorts of artists.  It hasn’t always been rock; sometimes it’s been other stuff – Evelyn Glennie, which is avant-garde stuff, a Hungarian band called Djabe.  I do stuff with them and meet musicians all over the world.”

Continue reading “Steve Hackett: The Progarchy Interview”