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Steve Hackett The man The Music DVD review

Steve Hackett - The Man, The Music

The first detailed documentary about Steve Hackett

The year 2014 was disappointing for many fans – at least where the activities of the “main band” Genesis were concerned. R-Kive was announced as big news for the fans and the documentary Sum Of The Parts that came along with it fell short of expectations by far as it presented only a distorted image of the band. In turn, Steve Hackett voiced his disappointment and also criticised the unbalanced presentation as he was the only one of the five members in the classic line-up whose solo career was not mentioned in the film.

What nobody knew back then: Since 2010, Matt Groom had been working on an independent documentary about the life and career of Steve Hackett. At several occasions, Groom conducted many interviews with Steve Hackett himself in various locations (though there isn’t all that much variation overall) and also approached his friends and family as part of the film. Steve’s mother makes an appearance as well as his wife Jo, who is working closely with Steve since they got together - and his brother John, of course. Other interviews also include members of Steve’s band such as Roger King, Gary O’Toole, Nick Beggs and Rob Townsend. Colleagues like Steven Wilson and Chris Squire are also part of the film, while his fellow Genesis members and other people from his history don’t make an appearance. In some cases, it may not be very surprising, but considering his artistic history, it would have been nice to hear something from some other people as well.

CoverThe Man, The Music has a different concept compared to that of most documentaries in the music industry. The usual narrator is dropped in favour of having the story told entirely through statements from the interviews. Matt Groom chose an interesting way of alternating between “stories from back then” and “that’s how it is today”. There are a few leaps in time at several points, especially during interviews with friends and family, but those work in favour of the overall concept and aren’t detrimental. There are a few parts in between where Steve can also show off his guitar skills and even the live version of a complete song (Every Day) is included. Overall, The Man, The Music seems a little like a DVD version of the concept Genesis chose for Chapter & Verse a few years ago.

The documentary runs for well over two hours in total. That’s a lot of content which certainly makes it seem a little long-winded in parts. It’s reasonable to question whether it would have been a better solution to make some of the scenes into bonus material instead. On the other hand, fans always want to see everything there is to see, which the film definitely accommodates. The documentary always gets interesting when Steve in particular starts philosophising. The film never evokes the impression that the people on screen lack authenticity. Everything seems real and honest. The well over 20 chapters focus on the early years – however, there is a rather large break after Spectral Mornings after which the film continues with Jo Hackett and Out Of The Tunnel’s Mouth. Wild Orchids, for example, is only brought up as a side note. This isn’t really a problem, however, as Hackett’s way of working hasn’t changed much in the years in between. As a last point his passion for pure classic albums also gets its due: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tribute are also included in the documentary.

Genesis fans will be interested in Steve’s thoughts about the other band members. Even though most of it is already common knowledge, the film purely portrays Hackett’s point of view. His account of his childhood and adolescence are also very insightful. One particular highlight both in the film and the bonus material are the Squackett recordings with Chris Squire. It’s more than just a nice gesture and an indirect obituary in a way.

The Man, The Music is a very detailed documentary about the possibly most creative and most productive artist from a Genesis background. On the one hand, the concept to mostly rely on interviews instead of employing a narrator makes sense as the viewers have to come to their own conclusion in the end. On the other hand, the documentary’s more than two hours of run time make it a little more “exhausting” to watch. In the end, however, it’s mostly focused on the fans as its target audience and as such it delivers a good result.

The Man, The Music is released by Wienerworld and available at amazon-uk and

Author: Christian Gerhardts
English by Robin Morgenstern