THE IN­TRO

For­mer Gong gui­tarist to re­visit his sem­i­nal 70s al­bums for three UK shows in sum­mer 2019.

Prog - - Contents -

The Steve Hil­lage Band re­turn to live ac­tion, plus we present to you a pre­view of what’s com­ing up in the pro­gres­sive world in 2019. Then there’s also Jo Quail, mur­mur­mur, At­las : Em­pire and more…

The Steve Hil­lage Band are to play three spe­cial shows this sum­mer. They will take place at the Cam­bridge Junc­tion on June 6, Manch­ester O2 Ritz on 7 and at the Lon­don O2 Shep­herd’s Bush Em­pire the fol­low­ing night. What makes them so spe­cial is that Hil­lage and his band are to play a set that con­cen­trates al­most ex­clu­sively on the al­bums Fish Ris­ing, L, Mo­ti­va­tion Ra­dio and Green, which span the pe­riod from 1975-8.

“It makes sense to do this now be­cause

2019 marks the 40th an­niver­sary of the last [full] UK tour done by The Steve Hil­lage Band,” ex­plains Steve Hil­lage to Prog.“It’s been talked about for a while, and fi­nally the op­por­tu­nity has come up.”

The last time The Steve Hil­lage Band played live was in 2009 and this time, the mu­si­cian will be backed by the cur­rent line-up of his for­mer band Gong.

“I’ve done a num­ber of guest spots with them and there’s def­i­nitely a good re­la­tion­ship be­tween us. When we played in Japan in

Oc­to­ber [2018], I talked to the guys about this, and they were very happy to be in­volved. All of them are high cal­i­bre mu­si­cians, which is what’s needed, and Kavus Torabi is a strong singer in his own right, so he’ll be help­ing me on that front.”

The set it­self won’t be chrono­log­i­cal, but will re­flect those songs Hil­lage him­self feels works best in this con­text.

“There are seven or eight that are ob­vi­ous, like The Salmon Song and It’s All Too Much. Peo­ple will ex­pect them to be in­cluded,” says Hil­lage. “After that, I can as­sure ev­ery­one I’ll put to­gether a stonk­ing set of songs that re­ally shines. I think I know what the fans want. When I put out the Search­ing For The Spark box set in 2017 [which won Reis­sue Of The Year at the 2017 Prog Awards] that cov­ered ex­actly this pe­riod, and from the feed­back I got I know what peo­ple are keen for me to play. There’s no need to can­vas opin­ions on that score.”

One thing that Hil­lage is fully aware of is that he’ll need to work very hard on get­ting ev­ery­thing up to the re­quired stan­dard. And he’s al­ready be­gun to men­tally pre­pare him­self for the chal­leng­ing task ahead.

“I know I have to get re­ally match fit to pull this off,” he says. “I have to reach the very high­est stan­dards, and I won’t ac­cept any­thing less from my­self or any­body else in­volved.

I have com­mit­ments with Sys­tem 7, my other band, un­til March. But from that point on­wards, this is to have my full at­ten­tion. I’ll spend three months get­ting my vo­cals and guitar play­ing right up to scratch.” Although the main fo­cus of the set will be on those early al­bums, Hil­lage hasn’t ruled out in­clud­ing some later songs. He con­firms one of those could be

Talk­ing To The Sun, which was on the stu­dio side of 1979’s Live Her­ald al­bum. But purists can rest be­cause the mu­si­cian in­tends to play all the songs just as they’d ex­pect.

“Why would I al­ter any of them?” he says. “I re­call spend­ing ages back then work­ing on the ar­range­ments, and I’m very proud of the way they turned out. How­ever, there was al­ways readi­ness for a lit­tle jam­ming, and that will ap­ply now as well. The Salmon Song, for in­stance, starts with a heavy rock riff, then goes into a very com­pli­cated, psy­che­delic mid­sec­tion. But right at the end it has room for a jam ses­sion, and we’ll cer­tainly do that.”

As for the prospect of fur­ther dates be­yond the trio al­ready con­firmed? Says Hil­lage, “If these go well then, yes, there will be more dates.”

Tick­ets are avail­able from bit.ly/Hil­lageTour. MD

“I’ll put to­gether a stonk­ing set of songs that re­ally shines.”

ABOVE: STEVE HIL­LAGE’S 2019 TOUR DATES.

STILL FEEL­ING THE MU­SIC… STEVE HIL­LAGE.

GONG, WITH STEVE HIL­LAGETHIRD FROM LEFT.

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