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.”

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Hierophantic Hackett

Hwaet!  The Genesis in days gone by

and the guitarist who ruled them had courage and greatness.

We have heard of that guitarist’s heroic campaigns.

 

A comfort sent by God to the peoples of the world.

He knew what they had tholed,

the long times and troubles they’d come through

without a leader; so the Lord of Life,

the glorious Almighty, made this Hackett renowned.

–With apologies to the Beowulf poet.

 

Steve Hackett - Wuthering Nights_ Live in Birmingham
InsideOut Music.  Released today in the United States.

Hackett is back, and, of course, he’s greater than before.  He has already conquered Grendel and Grendel’s mother.  Now, he returns to fulfill the prophecy of the Hierophant.

If you’ve not guessed, my copy of Hackett’s latest live offering, WUTHERING NIGHTS: LIVE IN BIRMINGHAM, arrived in my post box today.  And, oh, what a joy it is.  I’ve listened through it all, and, now, I’m rather stuck on this version of “Shadow of the Hierophant.”

As I listen and watch it repeatedly, I am reminded what first brought me to prog rock, oh so many years ago.  It is this, most certainly, this.  The build, the lingering, the apex, the mystery, and the certainty.

I’ve always considered VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE the lost Genesis album of 1975, much like Squire’s FISH OUT OF WATER is the lost Yes album of the same year.  “Shadow of the Hierophant” was stunning in 1975.  It’s even better in 2018.

Hackett’s recent outings and return to the beloved prog of the 1970s only makes me realize how alive this music remains. Watching Hackett, King, O’Toole, Townsend, Beggs, and Lehmann perform “Shadow of the Hierophant” reminds me that even in this world of sorrows, heroes arise, called forth by the God to remind us of what beauty still remains.

 

Steve Hackett Makes Everything Better – Even Things That Are Already Awesome! Orphaned Land’s Latest

You gotta love Prog Magazine. They are always introducing me to new things. Orphaned Land, a band of which I was completely unaware fifteen minutes ago, just released a new album yesterday entitled Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs. Steve Hackett features prominently on the track “Chains Fall to Gravity.” The song loosely reminds me of Hackett’s recent solo output before he even begins playing his guitar solo. The entire song is magnificently epic.

Here’s to hoping that the prog gods shine upon Progarchy and send us a review copy!

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited Live –Band with Orchestra

From HackettSongs.com:

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

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

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

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Bryan’s Best of 2017

Here we are again, folks. We find ourselves at the end of another great year for prog. Sadly, we’ve had to say goodbye to some amazing artists this year, including John Wetton, but we at least have their music by which to remember them.

I know I’ve been a bit quiet here at Progarchy lately due to beginning graduate school this fall. Hopefully things settle down going forward, and I’ll be able to contribute more. For now, here are my favorite albums from 2017 in vaguely ascending order.

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Watson’s Best Prog Albums of 2017: Part 1 — The “Honorable Mentions”

This year has seen a bonanza of quality progressive music. I have probably listened to more great albums this calendar go-round then in any recent year. This list is, of course, totally subjective and based on my own predispositions towards symphonic, orchestral, and melody-hooked prog.  There was such a plethora of wonderfully creative work in 2017 that I am increasing the list from the usual Top Ten or Top Twenty to a whopping 40 best.

And though ## 40 – – 21 are being categorized as only “honorable mentions” they still deserve your attention.  All of the following releases are so good that on any given day (just not today) they might well “crack the ceiling” and wind up on my official TOP TWENTY (coming later this week).   And now, in descending order from number 40 to number 21 are this years:

“Honorable Mentions”

40) SACRED APE/Sacred Ape

sacredape

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