The Steve Hillage Band are to play their first dates for 40 years in 2019. The three so far confirmed are Cambridge Junction June 6, Manchester O2 Ritz 7, London O 2 Shepherds Bush Empire 8. Tickets go on sale this Friday 14 December at 9.30am. A preorder link has also been sent up here.
“The Cambridge show is in a venue much smaller than the others,” says Hillage. “But I will still be putting on the full show. This is in no way merely a warm up for the others.
“Why am I doing this now? Well, the last gig the band did was on November 17, 1979 at Hammersmith Odeon in London. So next year is a significant anniversary for me. And when someone suggested this, it made sense. This isn't the first time it's been proposed, but now it is all coming together.”
Hillage will use Gong as his backing band, again a decision that is pragmatic.
“I need musicians of the highest calibre to make it all work properly. The people in Gong fit the bill. I know them well, have guested with the band on a number of recent occasions and they're all keen to do this.”
The set will be based around Hillage's first four solo albums, namely Fish Rising (1975), L (76), Motivation Radio (77) and Green (78), all of which were Top 40 successes.
“I haven't yet worked out what songs I am going to do. Some are obvious, and I will also look to feature some deep cuts from these albums. What I could also do is include one or two tracks from later albums like Open (79) and And Not Or (82); remember that last band tour was at the time when Open was released. My aim is to put together a stonking setlist that truly shines.”
It seems almost inevitable that at least one of the gigs will be filmed and recorded.
“Nothing has been discussed as yet. But it would be crazy not to do it. We'll have to work out the logistics of whether we do one or more shows, and how we release this. That puts more pressure on me to ensure this is all top class.
“I think we'll end up playing for between 90 minutes and two hours. I am not going to do a very long performance, which is split into two sets the way some bands are doing these days. There will be a good support act, and I'll want to give them as much time as possible onstage.”
Hillage is also not ruling out the possibility of recording new material with this line-up.
“Why not? If we get along as well as I feel we shall, then the idea of doing a new album will appeal to all of us. I am not committing myself to anything, but never say never!”
And the tour could also be expanded.
“Let's see how these three dates go before anything else is added. But after March, when I have nothing else planned, this band will have my full attention as I prepare for the dates. And if it goes as well as I hope, then there will be more gigs, both in Britain and elsewhere.”