“Eighty kilometers from the North Pole. Even at such a remote place guitar virtuoso Steve Hackett has performed live. Hackett, 71 years old, still travels all over the world to perform. He already did that with the progressive rock band Genesis. In Iceland it was so cold that his soul almost froze, and he only saw the Northern Lights for a short time, but nevertheless he found it magical. The extreme conditions in the country inspired him to write the song “Fifty Miles of the North Pole” and the album “The Night Siren”, with a photo of the Northern Lights. This natural phenomenon can only be seen under certain circumstances. The Italian photographer couple Maurizio and Angéla Vicedomini, with whom Hackett has been working since 2008, were lucky enough to make the Northern
Lights last longer and take pictures of it. It led to this special cover. Musically, Hackett has always embraced diversity. Also on this album he collaborates with musicians and singers from all over the world. For him, there are no cultural boundaries in music; walls are merely for defense purposes. The music rises above that and can shake the walls. Touring around the world continues to be a source of inspiration for Hackett. Whether it is Akureyri in Iceland or Zoetermeer in the Netherlands. It doesn’t matter to him. As long as he can make music and meet friendly people.
“The Night Siren” shows that Hackett’s incredible way of playing guitar hasn’t lost any of its power. On this LP he plays together with his regular backing band, but also with musicians from different countries. There are singers from Israel and Palestine, both campaigning actively to bring Jews and Arabs together. And there is a multitude of sounds on this record, including the exotic melodies of the Indian sitar, the Middle Eastern tar, and the ethnic beauty of the Peruvian charango. In short, music that crosses all borders, thanks to the places around the world that Hackett regularly visits. It’s actually music that you should listen to in a live setting.
All this traveling is not for me. I don’t usually get beyond Germany and France. Every now and then a friend takes me to the far end of Eastern Europe. Like Hackett, he is also an avid traveler. When he returns from an exotic country, sitting outside a café, he tells me the most wonderful adventures he has experienced. He also, together with his wife, wanted to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. But they got stuck in a blizzard. A local farmer had to get them out of their rental car. Brrr, I don’t ever want to think about experiencing something like this.
But after a year of staying indoors, the thought of flying over those all-familiar walls, breaking the chains, going off on a wild adventure and looking for the Northern Lights, sounds more and more appealing. YouTube videos of the Northern Lights alone make my jaw drop. A great natural phenomenon, a complicated physical process of solar wind with electronic particles bouncing against the magical shield of the earth. It provides spectacular and colorful images at the North Pole. Vicedomini’s photo of the Northern Lights on this cover seems almost unnatural. But that is precisely the couple’s trademark. The inner sleeve of this album contains even more special photos, based on the songs from the album. For the time being, it is travelling with my eyes closed. I imagine myself at the site of this record cover and I find myself sitting on one of the rocks. The advantage is that I can do this from the comfort of my bed, under the covers, at 20 degrees Celsius. The beautiful green colors appear on my retina. I can almost sense the absolute silence, but that’s because I have my earplugs on. But who knows, as soon as it is possible again, the dream will come true. Only have to convince my wife.”
By Gerrit-Jan Vrielink
Translation Alex Driessen