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“This album is a love affair turned into music, really. I loved doing it. I love every note on it.”

and , which reached No.28 in the UK chart and continued a prolific run of form on the label InsideOut.

Out on the road and Hackett is continuing to prove a dominant force in prog’s live circles, helped by a willingness to revisit Genesis classics. He has an all-star cast: in recent years his onstage collaborators have included Roine Stolt, Nick Beggs, Craig Blundell, Nad Sylvan and Marco Minnemann, among others.

When Prog yarns with Hackett it’s not long after his latest Genesis Revisited tour was rescheduled to 2021/2022 as a result of Covid. It was the same story with the reunited Collins/Rutherford/Banks Genesis line-up, who also had to put back their highly anticipated tour. There’s a certain irony to Genesis reforming while Hackett is also out there celebrating the band’s back catalogue, but judging by his prolific solo material he shouldn’t need to worry about Collins and co stealing his thunder.

Under A Mediterranean Sky is a fine addition to Hackett’s portfolio, and one for progheads as well as fans of folk, classical and world music.

“Somehow I hope it will do for people what Ravel’s Bolero did for me when I was a 12-year-old buying my first album,” he says. “It seemed to conjure so much more than merely a French composer focused on Spain. It seemed to encapsulate Egypt and all of those kind of things that a young, suggestive 12-year-old brain might take onboard.

“For instance, whenever I heard Ravel’s Bolero in those days, it always conjured to mind Cleopatra’s barge coming closer and closer along the Nile.”

The 11 tracks on Hackett’s new album do a stellar job of grabbing the listener’s hand and running off to the Med: dim the lights, cradle a glass of red and you’re almost there. They’re a bold statement from Hackett, who could have easily furrowed down the prog rock path once more. But the chance to do something different, and unexpected, proved to be too alluring.

“Rules are meant to be broken,” he smiles. “If you don’t break rules in music, you might as well throw in the towel.”

This article originally appeared in issue 117 of Prog Magazine.

Louder Sound – Steve Hackett’s Mediterranean adventure
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January 21, 2023

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