The last five years have been a very productive period for Steve Hackett. Following the release of the outstanding “Beyond The Shrouded Horizon” back in 2011, the six string maestro has spent the following three years re-discovering, re-recording and performing at prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall some of the most loved compositions ever recorded by the legendary Genesis, much, of course, to the delight of his large and impressively varied fan base.
The reason, however, that brought together the crème de la crème of the music industry at the Cecil Sharp House on the evening of the 30 March was not to delve into the guitarist’s past but to celebrate his future – a future that looks much brighter following the release of his latest solo album “Wolflight”.
My excitement at finally meeting in person the man who helped create “Selling England By The Pound”, one of the best Progressive Rock albums ever recorded, was such that I found myself outside the Cecil Sharp House, home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, a good hour prior to the event starting – an hour that was spent in the good company of red wine and fellow journalists.
What seemed like hours later, we were invited to the performance area where rows of seats were strategically positioned opposite a projector and a podium, featuring original artwork from Steve’s previous masterpieces and two stools with accompanying microphones for the upcoming Q&A session.
Having found a pretty central spot, I started looking around to see if I could recognise any of Steve’s numerous guests and, though I saw quite a few prominent artists amongst the crowd, it was the smiling Steve Rothery of Marillion fame who really captured my attention.
Moments later, the room’s lights were dimmed and both Steve and Jerry Ewing, chief editor of Prog magazine, took their places centre stage for what was to be a short and pretty generic interview whose purpose was to provide us with some basic information regarding the creation of “Wolflight”.
What made this pretty generic process fairly enjoyable in my eyes, apart from the projection of two videos that Steve has prepared for this album – those for “Wolflight” and “Love Song To A Vampire” – was the humour employed by the guitar virtuoso when replying to Ewing’s questions.
It is not every day that you hear a highly acclaimed guitarist saying that “sometimes guitarists should learn how to shut up” when describing the balance between instruments in any decent composition or when referring to Genesis as “this little band that I joined back in the 70s”.
The floor really came alive after Jerry Ewing left the stage, when it was our turn to pose Steve a few questions and this friendly gathering was concluded twenty or so minutes later with Steve courteously signing bags of LPs and CDs in a specially designated area.
Even though I had been able to access “Wolflight” days prior to this event, I have to admit that listening to the ten compositions on offer through a top range stereo system and in the presence of Steve Hackett was a very special experience indeed.
What pleases me the most, however, is the knowledge that, thirty eight years since he left Genesis, this intelligent, gentle, and accommodating man is still able and willing to surprise, impress and delight us with his beautiful music.
May this always be the case!
Review and photos by John Stefanis
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