The iconic guitarist returns to GLC Live at 20 Monroe on Wednesday, happy to be back on the road with his band after pandemic delays. The Steve Hackett interview at Local Spins.
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Guitarist Steve Hackett is happy to be on the road again, back doing what he loves: performing for a live audience. Of course, he also enjoys composing and recording music.
Denied of the former during the pandemic, like so many others, he used the downtime for the latter.
He composed, performed and released two separate projects: the mostly acoustic “Under A Mediterranean Sky,” inspired by his travels around that region, and “Surrender of Silence,” featuring his expansive electric side. It demonstrated his mastery of the guitar and his songwriting chops, with forays into progressive epics, world music and near-metallic shredding.
“It was a way of escaping,” Hackett said from his home in England in a phone interview. “We haven’t been able to tour for a couple years.”
That’s finally all changed. Hackett and his longstanding band will return to GLC Live at 20 Monroe for a seated show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets, $60-$125, are available online here.
He’ll perform songs from his solo catalog as well as the Genesis songbook as he celebrates the 45th anniversary of that band’s live document “Seconds Out.” “I’m looking forward to ‘Seconds Out’ in front of people. I’m still nuts about it,” he said.
The mix of “Seconds Out” with solo material new and old makes for a grand concert experience, he said, for both the band and the audience. “‘Seconds Out’ plus new plus old; it’s a very long show, about three hours.”
That live recording was the last album Hackett made with the band, and many would argue the last to feature its progressive rock tendencies. The remaining trio of Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford would go on to huge pop success with several hit singles, albums like “Abacab” and “We Can’t Dance,” along with numerous videos.
By then, Hackett was off and running on his solo career. In the decades since, he’s released 45-plus studio and live albums.
But he’s never forgotten his tenure alongside Collins, Rutherford, Banks and Peter Gabriel. In 1996, he returned to the scene of the (nursery) cryme with his first “Genesis Revisited” album, featuring friends and special guests on new arrangements of music by his former band. “Genesis Revisited II” appeared in 2012, and a year later, he began touring under that banner.
While he tabbed numerous singers on the studio recordings, such as Colin Blunstone (the Zombies), Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze), John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson), even Simon Collins – yes, Phil’s son – he’s since toured exclusively with Nad Sylvan on lead vocals.
TOURING WITH THE BEST BAND HE’S EVER HAD
Stalwarts Roger King on keyboards and Rob Townsend on woodwinds, keyboards and percussion have been joined by Jonas Reingold on bass and Craig Blundell on drums the past few tours. “It’s a killer band. I absolutely love them. It’s the best I’ve ever had,” said Hackett.
Sylvan in particular has grown since assuming the role as featured vocalist, his flair for theatricality and drama matched by his soaring singing.
“Nad can’t help himself,” Hackett said, with a chuckle. “His natural element is getting on stage. He’s very much a character. He does a very good version of Pete, Phil, even Richie Havens.” The bluesy folk singer appeared on key tracks of Hackett’s second album, “Please Don’t Touch.”
Leading the way is the nonpareil guitarist, who keeps on keeping on. “I’ve got friends who look at the (touring) schedule and say, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m blessed with good genes, fairly clean living. If I don’t slide into Jack Daniels and Coke I’ll be okay.
“I love touring. My wife loves touring. Instead of 72, I feel like I’m 27,” he said.
He’s also had albums celebrating his classical, acoustic side: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” topped the classical charts – as well as blues, rock, world and progressive music by turn. In that, he echoes the band he and others consider the greatest rock group of all time, The Beatles. And apparently that feeling goes both ways.
“I just found out the other day from a friend that John Lennon said there were two bands he considered true sons of The Beatles: Genesis and Electric Light Orchestra.”
Hackett has performed in the area numerous times, dating back to 1975 with Genesis touring “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” at Grand Valley State University. The following year, the band — now fronted by Collins after the departure of Gabriel — focused on “A Trick of the Tail” with an appearance at the Grand Rapids Civic Center. Hackett and his band last played at 20 Monroe in 2019 prior to the pandemic.
His shows these days typically feature two sets, one celebrating the music of Genesis, from 1971’s “Nursery Cryme” through “Wind and Wuthering” from 1976. The other set focuses on his solo career, starting with “Voyage of the Acolyte” in 1975 while still a member of Genesis, to his most recent output.
In the studio, his elastic forays on guitar are complemented by vocals (often stacked one atop another), King’s frequently orchestral keyboards, and contributions from esoteric instruments like tar, Uilleann pipes and didgeridoo. In concert, the focus is clearly on Hackett’s six-string excursions.
An enthusiastic Hackett clearly relishes being in front of enthusiastic crowds once again. “The audience creates the atmosphere. They give the shows wings,” he said.
VIDEO: Steve Hackett, Live in Germany (March 2022)
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