By MIKE CHAIKEN
The press materials for guitarist Steve Hackett’s latest album proclaims it is a “wakeup call… the warning of a siren sounding in this era of strife and division.”
The effort from the former guitarist of Genesis is dubbed, “The Night Siren.” It finds the British guitarist mining a sound of world music meets progressive rock, using a multicultural and multinational cast of musicians.
Calling from London, Hackett—who will be performing in Connecticut Feb. 22, said the decision to focus on the strife in the world was inspired by his disappointment in Brexit—the vote in his homeland to vacate the European Union, which was inspired in part by the refugee crisis on the continent.
“I hope Europe doesn’t put up borders everywhere,” said Hackett. “They are overrated. We have to heal divisions or we will blow each other up.”
This isn’t the first time the guitarist has taken a political stand. He spoke about how he participated in Rock against Repatriation in 1997, which fought a move to send the Vietnamese boat people back to their homeland.
And for Hackett, Brexit strikes hard at his own origins. His family came to Britain from Poland as refugees in the 1800s.
This political bent of “The Night Siren” fits Hackett’s preferred genres.
“A lot of progressive rock is close to the folk tradition and story telling tradition… writing about musical battles and ideals,” said Hackett, who added pop music tends to be more about “the mating ritual.”
Given the world situation, Hackett said he wanted to feature world music instrumentation in his next studio album. And he wanted to bridge cultural divides through music by making moves such as teaming singers Kobi and Mira, an Israeli and Palestinian, on the same track. He also teamed 20 or so musicians from four countries on the entire album.
Hackett said he was thrilled that, through music, he could convey a message of peace and unity.
Hackett has a love for world music that reflects his love for traveling.
“I’m a great lover of basic rock and roll and the blues,” said Hackett. But when he was growing up he also listened to Russian composers, many of whom had their eyes set on the sounds of the east, Asia. And like those composers, Hackett learned to appreciate the music beyond his own borders.
In music today, rock or pop, the tendency now is to craft it all in a computer using the latest software.
But on “The Night Siren,” there is an overwhelmingly organic sound. Most of the instrumentation is provided by real musical instruments rather than computerized facsimiles.
“I like to, where possible, use as many real instruments as we can,” said Hackett, explaining his preference for the organic sound on “The Night Siren.” He explained, “You have to trust the people you work with to give you the performance you need.”
When Hackett comes to Connecticut, his tour is dubbed Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett. So in addition to his solo efforts, his set will focus on his time with the seminal progressive rock (later pop rock) group Genesis.
The Connecticut performance will have a segment that focuses on his last album with Genesis, 1976’s “Wind and Wuthering,” which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
In 1977, while promoting the album, Hackett decided to leave the band as he saw the direction of the band starting to change. However, Hackett said, he was very proud of the work he did with Genesis. And he was especially proud of “Wind and Wuthering.”
“I think it’s a great album,” said Hackett, noting that Genesis’s former lead singer Peter Gabriel also had high praise for it.
And for the tour that brings him to New England, Hackett said he decided to revisit the album.
Many of the songs from “Wind and Wuthering” will be part of the set list, he said. This includes “One from the Vine” as well as most of the tracks from the second side of the album. (Hackett’s vocalist Nad Sylvan will handle the tracks sung by Phil Collins on the album.)
Touring with a full band, Hackett also will be performing songs from his solo efforts, post-Genesis (as well as several tracks from “The Night Siren”).
“I’m acutely aware audiences ask for certain favorite tunes,” said Hackett. Among the favorite solo tracks planned for the show are “The Steppes” from “Defector” and “The Serpentine Song” from “To Watch the Storm.”
Steve Hackett will perform at Ridgefield Playhouse, 76 East Ridge Rd., Ridgefield Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $75. For tickets, go to RidgefieldPlayhouse.org.