by MIKE CHAIKEN
Although Steve Hackett is known for his ground breaking guitar work with the band Genesis, he is no stranger to singing.
On many of his solo albums, although he occasionally may hand the microphone to a guest singer, he has been known to grab the microphone as well.
Hackett comes to the Ridgefield Playhouse on Sept. 29 in a show that has been sold out.
When he was in Genesis, Hackett really didn’t need to step into the vocalist spotlight. First, Peter Gabriel did quite well in that role. And when Gabriel left, Phil Collins proved to be more than able to replace the irreplaceable Gabriel.
Hackett, within Genesis, stood front and center with guitar, not his vocals.
But as a solo artist, Hackett can be heard taking the lead. And he succeeds very nicely, thank you very much.
Vocally, said the Brit, “We’ve all got a number of personalities. This is especially true in acting, where a gifted comedian like the late Peter Sellers could create all of these different characters just by changing up his voice.
Singers have the same ability, said Hackett. Sometimes one can sing high; sometimes one can sing softly, sometimes one’s voice can be harder edged.
All effect the personality of what is being sung, said Hackett.
The key, as a singer, is to find the personality in which you are the strongest.
Hackett said he dreamt of being a strong rock singer. However, he learned he just didn’t have the voice for it. He discovered he had a voice better built for country. He was more like a Roy Orbison and Marty Robbins.
This had some advantages, said Hackett. When you are rock singer who belts out a melody, Hackett said the lyrics become secondary. Hackett couldn’t belt but he could sing a story.
Still, Hackett said, initially he wasn’t sure about his voice. But a musical peer provided him the guidance and confidence he needed.
Hackett was working on a project with Steve Walsh, the former lead vocalist for Kansas. Hackett expressed some concerns about his voice. Walsh told Hackett that he had a good voice. It just needed to be trained.
“I’ve been doing that ever since.”
Hackett’s vocals have grown stronger. But he said still likes to work with other singers, as he does on his latest album, “At The Edge of Light.” He likes the different musical colors achieved by the different voices on a record.
On the current tour, Hackett is performing Genesis’s classic album, “Selling England by the Pound” from beginning to end (along with a couple of unreleased tidbits from that era as well).”
The album, which featured then lead singer Peter Gabriel, set the stage for taking Genesis from the underground scene to mass acceptance.
When the group came together to record the album in 1973, which would be the studio follow-up to “Foxtrot,” Hackett said there were no formally written songs. There were musical bits and pieces. That was it.
All of the songs were written on the spot, said Hackett.
The completed songwriting credits cited all five members of the composers on each track.
The album found Hackett finding his own voice for composition.
“I thought, at the time, the best thing I can do is come up with as many riffs as possible,” said Hackett.
“I was quite nervous about stepping forward in the song writing camp,” said Hackett, “I was shy about my ability.”
But, he said, “I did have ideas to explore.
On “Selling England by the Pound,” said Hackett, you can see a band in development. There were virtuoso moments. There were moments that approached jazz fusion (before the term had ben coined). There were big band sounds. There were psychedelic.
“All under (performed under) the banner of rock and roll,” said Hackett. “It was all one big experience.”
Hackett, who has performed other albums in their entirety while on tour, said these showcases add to an audience’s appreciation of a work. He also likes to perform songs that were written at the time of thd showcased album but never committed to record. He likened it to a DVD that includes deleted scenes from a movie.
Although “At the Edge of Light” was just released, Hackett said he is in the process of writing two new albums… one an acoustic album with an orchestra and one electric. “I have a few things down now,” said Hackett.
However, Hackett said he feels he will have an uphill climb surpassing his current album. He said the newest album is the work he’s been striving for his entire musical career.
“It’s a hard act to follow.”
Steve Hackett performs at the Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge, Ridgefield. The show was listed as being sold out. But the venue said on its website to call 203-438-5795 if you’re interested in buying tickets.
For more information about Steve Hackett, visit HackettSongs.com.