When progressive rock pioneer Steve Hackett starts his “Steve Hackett Genesis Revisted, Solo Gems & GTR 2018 Tour de Force” on Saturday, Feb. 10, he will have nearly 50 years of material from which to choose his setlist. The iconic guitarist will be honoring the 40th anniversary of the first solo album he did — Please Don’t Touch — after leaving Genesis, as well as some classic tracks from his time in the band.
“We’ll do ‘Please Don’t Touch’ and ‘Icarus Ascending’. So we’re doing the title track and the more significant Richie Havens track [Havens did the vocals on the latter],” Hackett told AXS.com regarding the emphasis on the Please Don’t Touch album during this tour. “In the same way, last year’s tour was celebrating 40 years of [Genesis album] Wind & Wuthering.”
One show from his critically acclaimed “Genesis Revisited & Classic Hackett Tour” last year was just released (Jan. 26) as a CD/Blu-Ray package and a CD/DVD set, which is enjoying a successful launch. “It’s already done better than some of my studio albums,” Hackett said of Wuthering Nights: Live in Birmingham.“ It was top of the Amazon charts in the UK and it just came out. It’s been a very pleasant surprise that it’s being received with open arms.”
Hackett spoke with AXS.com in a midtown Manhattan hotel, shortly before he headed off to play 2 shows a night on the Cruise to the Edge, from February 3-8. He’ll be joined by a number of artists — such as YES, Adrian Belew Power Trio, and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy — as the ship sails from Tampa, Florida to Belize and Costa Maya (Mexico).
After that, he will kick off his extensive tour on Feb. 10 in Quebec and end on March 25 in Brazil, after making stops throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Peru. Tour dates and ticket information are available here.
The guitarist remarked that songs from his vast solo catalog such as “Every Day,” “Behind the Smoke,” “In the Skeleton Gallery, and “El Nino” will be featured during this tour, as well. Some of his Genesis classics, such as “Supper’s Ready,” “Dancing with the Moon at Night,” and “One for the Vine” will also be part of the setlist. Also mentioned were: “Los Endos,” “Dance in a Volcano,” “The Fountain of Salmacis,” and “The Musical Box.” He noted that “there seems to be a thing where we end up doing the first track and last track of certain albums because they seem to be the strongest.”
Hackett also spoke about his new bass player, Jonas Reingold. He praised the versatile Swedish musician as “a powerful presence” whom he heard play Bach on the bass. Although new to the band, Reingold has been quickly learning Hackett’s extensive catalog. “We ended up rehearsing ‘The Steppes’ and Jonas got it right the first time. We’ll do it in soundcheck probably at some point and see if it makes sense [to add to the setlist],” he said.
After the 24-date North and South American tour, the guitar legend and his band will play two shows in Japan in April and one in Spain in June. In early October, he will perform six shows with a symphony in the UK, featuring Canadian conductor Bradley Thachuk.
Hackett has long been a fan of classical music, as well as many other genres such as blues, jazz, and classic rock. “The first album I bought — I was 12 by then — was Ravel’s ‘Bolero.’ I was in love with the spookiness of it, the slow crescendo,” he recalled. “It really has the power of rock and the power of a symphony orchestra. Large forces that are delivered bit by bit.”
In addition to preparing for this tour, Hackett is working on a new studio album. “I’m halfway through, and there are many songs that are still developing,” he said. “Half the time you do a track and you think ‘That’s probably finished.’ Then you get away from it for perhaps a few weeks and you think ‘Oh, I could’ve done more there.’ I want to be haunted by the things that are wrong with it and realize the possibilities of what I could do to fix that.”
While the work in progress is mostly a rock album, Hackett draws from his extensive background and eclectic tastes. Classical, orchestral, choral, and even Indian music are among his current influences for this project.
These days, when he’s not writing, recording, or performing, he listens to a wide variety of music — from blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa and alternative rock bands Muse and Elbow to classic rock mostly from the 1960s.