STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
One of his two November shows at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside has already sold out.
Original Genesis lead guitarist Steve Hackett — back in the limelight thanks to a brand-new BBC documentary on the band called “Together and Apart” and three-CD Genesis retrospective, “R-Kive”— is on a world tour performing his 1996 and 2012 re-recordings of his finest Genesis moments from the early- to mid-1970s. The two “Genesis Revisited” albums (one of them a double-disc set) feature re-imagined workings of landmark progressive rock works like “Supper’s Ready,” “The Musical Box,” “Los Endos,” “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” “Dance on a Volcano,” “Watcher of the Skies” and “The Return of the Giant Hogweed.”
When the band’s music gradually began to take a more-accessible, commercial direction in the late ‘70s after the departure of Peter Gabriel, Hackett became frustrated with his diminishing creative role and left to pursue a solo career. Occasional future reunions with his bandmates included Genesis’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 (Gabriel was unable to attend and they did not perform).
As of press time, tickets were still available for Hackett’s “Genesis Extended” show Nov. 20, and he took some time to answer some questions by email.
Philadelphia was one of those U.S. cities that seemed to get Genesis when you first came over here. Since you’ve been walking down memory lane a bit with the “Genesis Revisited” albums project and “Genesis Extended” tour, any Philly moments — good, bad or weird — that you’d like to share?
I remember Philly as being a real stronghold for us, and it has always been a fantastic place to play with brilliant audiences. We have a great following in Philly to this day and several special friends in the area.
What made you decide that the time was right to re-record the old songs? And since many of them were group compositions, did you have to ask for permission before proceeding?
It was OK for me to just go ahead, although some clearances needed to be sorted out. I decided to re-record the old songs because I realised so many people were still really into the Genesis music and I felt that today it is possible to create better quality recordings. I also wanted to make various subtle changes, whilst remaining true to the songs and the Genesis spirit. It was exciting to add the orchestral elements too, and also to have a whole host of different singers who added their own character to the songs.
Is this tour the first time you’ve ever done an all-Genesis show? What songs can we expect to hear Nov. 20-21?
I’ve been doing the all-Genesis show, beginning with “Genesis Revisited,” and now “Genesis Extended,” for nearly two years now. We regularly change the set, but we keep in special favourites like “Supper’s Ready,” “Musical Box” and “Firth of Fifth.”
Are any of these songs more difficult to perform than they used to be (For example, “Supper’s Ready” is more than 23 minutes long)?
They were always difficult to perform! But that is an exciting challenge. It’s a big job for the bass player, who also has to take on 12-string (guitar), which was an important part of the Genesis sound. But both Lee Pomeroy last year, and Nick Beggs this year, have done a fantastic job with it all. The whole band bring the music to life in their own special way, and at the same time remain true to the original.
Tell me about the band that you’re playing with on this “Genesis Extended” tour.
There is Nick Beggs, who is also bass and stick player with Steven Wilson. Roger King on keyboards plays a fabulous piano intro to “Firth of Fifth” and spent many hours helping me to pull everything together. Rob Townsend adds a new element with his range of wind instruments, whilst also playing some beautiful flute, such as the melody in “Supper’s Ready.” Gary O’Toole, like Roger and Rob, has been playing with me for several years and his drumming on these shows is incredibly powerful.
Compare your early days of being on stage — the business-like, studious lead guitarist alongside of Peter Gabriel’s theatrical persona — with the Steve Hackett we see on stage today.
I am much more confident now than I was in those early days. Confidence comes with time and experience.
Those photos of you with the 1971-1975 members of Genesis (Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks) at the London premiere for the “Together and Apart” BBC documentary are great. Thanks for posting them (to www.hackettsongs.com). Was it difficult to hide your disappointment with the film with the rest of the guys there (In a statement on his website, Hackett voiced displeasure that it did not include any interview footage with him talking about his solo work)?
It was difficult to hide my disappointment with the documentary, yes, but it was great to see the guys.
GTR (a short-lived supergroup from the mid-1980s that featured Hackett and guitarist Steve Howe from the bands Yes and Asia) was an interesting project. Besides Squackett (a 2012 collaboration between Hackett and Yes bassist Chris Squire), will there be any other such collaborations with well-known prog musicians?
It’s always possible. We’ll see!
What’s your next musical project going to be?
I have just finished recording a solo album which is due out early next year, and I intend to tour it too. It’ll feel good to play my own material again, even though I’m really enjoying doing these “Genesis Extended” shows.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Steve Hackett: “Genesis Extended.”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 20.
WHERE: The Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside.
TICKETS: $49 and $75.
INFO: Call (215) 572-7650 or visit www.keswicktheatre.com.