The Steve Hackett story - from the orchestra pit to a mediterranean sky. Photos by: Alan Hewitt, Lee Millward and Geoff Davvis. Memorabilia: TWR archive.
The announcement that Steve was finally getting his chance to perform his music with a full orchestra was something that excited his fans immensely. Steve had always wanted to work with orchestras and had done so when he was briefly part of David (now Dee) Palmer's orchestral shows promoting his interpretations of the music of Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Queen. A gig in Buffalo NY with orchestra had taken place in early 2018 and Steve explained to TWR how that gig and the subsequent UK tour had come about…
"Well, I had an idea of doing one show in London with an orchestra ...then I did stuff in Iceland with Todmobile and they asked me to play with them and then the Buffalo Philharmonic approached me in the form of Bradley Thachuk and his brother Steve who asked if I would like to work with them and we did a show in Buffalo which went particularly well and then the promoters in England came back with an offer of six shows which started selling very well and soon became eight…"
The shows themselves were a great success as you can see on the resulting DVD from the show at the Royal Festival Hall. The orchestra brought an added dimension to the music and really showed what Genesis could have had, if they used additional players back in the day. The UK tour brought 2018 to a close on a high note but Steve was soon back on the road again as well as balancing work on another new album.
Under The Eye Of The Sun was released in the spring of 2019 and continued Steve's increasingly topical vein of song writing, especially on Beasts In Our Time which is a vivid description of the current (and sadly ongoing) state of chaos the world finds itself in, and of course, this was all before the Covid 19 Pandemic too, of course! The album covers a lot of ground and uses a vast spectrum of musical ideas and is really another cinematic effort; from the current political chaos, to those who operated the Underground Railroad to spirit escaped slaves to freedom before and during the American Civil War. Shadow & Flame relates to Steve's wife, Jo's experiences in Varanasi India which Steve explained…
"This was lyrically about Jo's experiences in Varanasi where she was literally watching the sun come up over the Ganges one morning. She said it was both beautiful and horrific at the same time, because although you see all these Vedas in a golden light, at the same time you also see the dead bodies floating downriver and they are going to the Ghats to be burned. I haven't seen this stuff, but she has, face to face .."
To enable Steve to embrace his musical world vision, he employed a wide variety of musicians from around the world: the McBroom sisters (Durga and Loreley) on Underground Railroad, Sheema Mukherjee on Shadow & Flame and several others. The result is another musically and lyrically challenging album and a stimulating effort which once again grazed the lower end of the top forty in the UK album charts.