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