Steve Hackett, the quintessential prog-rock guitarist and former member of Genesis, released two albums during the pandemic and it is now time to take to the road and not only support them both, but to revive the classic Genesis album Seconds Out as well. He will perform at the Beacon Theatre in New York on April 3 and the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood on April 7-9.
“I’m looking forward to it because I always like playing at The Scottish Rite, and The Beacon is a favorite,” he said. “They both have great sound because they both act like an amplifier. So when you thunder into the beginning of a number, the building talks back to you, which is great.”
After decades, the music of both Genesis and Hackett as a solo artist is still capable of resonating, and doing so emphatically.
Seconds Out was a 1977 double live album “but of course it was really (made up of) the whole stuff of the 197os prior to that, which was the stuff that went on that album,” Hackett. “It’s stuff that spreads over six or seven years’ worth of material. I always liked the music that we did from that era, I must admit.”
Last year, Hackett released both the acoustic Under a Mediterranean Sky and the electric Surrender of Silence.
“I had a great time doing both,” he said. “I like both aspects. I like music that is compassionate and lyrical and melodic, but I also like stuff that has the hooligan in it as well: hooligan drummers and wayward guitars. I love this stuff because music can embrace it all and it’s all part of what I love. I’ve got music from the Baroque era onwards and some dating back even further into the earliest music. It all has its appeal and it all influences. I think the past influences the future and it’s all part of it.
“You hear something like the most played FM track — which they say is Led Zeppelin, ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ which of course has the sound of the recorders. It starts with early music and then goes electric and those wide dynamics are all part of what progressive is about or should be about, I think.
“What’s funny is, I always liked the term fusion. I thought that was very apt and if there was another way of describing it, I’d say collision: different schools of thought colliding, which is what I have been all about. You have tracks like ‘The Devil’s Cathedral’ (listen below) from Surrender of Silence, which is one that we do very well live, which starts basically with pipe organ and soprano sax. So you’ve got jazz and you’ve also got cathedral and it’s a heady mixture of the two and it’s a high point for me because it is different every night. When the guys play that, they have license to play anything they like within this kind of octatonic scale and it really does sound like the demons have arrived. It sounds wonderful and I really love that so much.
“We do a couple of new ones: We do that one and ‘Held in the Shadows’ and they both work really well live. I have to say that I’m really proud of the solo set, even though it’s much shorter, and of course you have the double album, which is the much loved Seconds Out, but for me it’s important to keep doing new stuff. It’s like leading a double life, isn’t it? ‘What are you currently doing? What were you doing? Are you going to be doing it live?’ Yes, we will deliver the whole album live as we have done so far in the U.K., Scandinavia and France. It was hugely interesting playing France as we hadn’t really been able to leave the country in quite some time. That was great stuff.”
He said touring represents “a challenge every night. It’s a memory test and all of those things. But it’s what I do best. I love doing it. I love messing around with different guitars and it’s very interesting.
“There is a discovery every day when you’re playing the guitar … Genesis themselves mentioned when I joined them, ‘Can you make it sound like Jim McGuinn (of The Byrds)? Can you do this? Can you do a cross between Jim McGuinn and Joni Mitchell?’ I’d be thinking, ‘Well, yeah, all of those earlier sounds are possible.’ And at the same time, ‘Can you make it sound like Andrés Segovia?’ And then, ‘Can you make it sound like Jimi Hendrix, only quieter? Can you do that?’
“All of those things have been on the agenda. So, guitarists become each other, don’t they? That’s really it. We’re all part of the same kind of network, the same cell or band of brothers, in a way. We’re all wrestling with that thing. ‘The trial of harmony versus invention,’ as Vivaldi once said. Try plugging it in from time to time and making it squeal. That’s good, too (laughs).”
For more information, visit hackettsongs.com.
We need your help!
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJArts.net to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.