Van der Graaf Generator - Live at the Paradiso 14:04:07 DVD/CD
From Aural Innovations April 2010 update
So here we have the 2007 version of Van der Graaf Generator live in Amsterdam. Yes, very nice!!! The lineup is Hugh Banton on organ, Guy Evans on drums and Peter Hammill on vocals, guitar and piano. These three have played together on and off in VDGG since '68/'69. The set opens with LEMMINGS off the classic 1971 album Pawn Hearts. Having spent most of my adult life in the space rock band ST37 I got an education in Van der Graaf Generator. I always felt they were as good/relevant as other late 60's/early 70's contemporaries Genesis, King Crimson etc. but for whatever reason, like another great band Hawkwind, almost completely unknown to American audiences. I've always attributed this to the fact that bands like VDGG and Hawkind are too real, too philosophically/spritually right on for U.S. audiences who prefer their music to be a mushy bland product that is spoon fed to them so they don't have to think for themselves or make their own decisions.
Even tho the boys are pushin' 70 now, instead of Pushin' 30, they havn't lost a step! Vocalist Peter Hammill still has the pipes and emotion and Guy Evans on drums and Hugh Banton on organ still sound great! You don't feel like they're just going thru the motions like so many older bands that get back together. "What choice is there but to live," chilling lyrics and delivery... then goes into very slow ambient section. A PLACE TO SURVIVE I don't know this song, I think it's a newer one, but it's more of the classic VDGG sound and performance! This one seems not as tight/polished as Lemmings but still good! All these songs are epics, they're almost punk prog, I guess that's why ST37 liked them so much! Peter Hammill anounces LIFETIME as a new one. It's slow, quiet, emotional, "To give back the things you borrowed for a day," great lyrics then into the rock drum beat! Very impressive. (IN THE) BACKROOM Peter switches to piano for this one, back to the bombastic VDGG. Watching older white haired gentlemen play this music makes me realize/feel that this is the classical/important music of our time! Drummer Guy Evans looks like he was probably a badass/scary man back in the day! He and the keyboardist look/play like they've fought a thousand wars together. EVERY BLOODY EMPEROR that's it, these guys are just too intellectual for the Bruce Willis America!! I have to admit this makes me want to bust out some classic 1970 Genesis and VDGG video's! Yes, very heavy and politically right on, Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn't like or understand that one! ALL THAT BEFORE these guys are the essence of early 70's British Prog! I don't know if they ever had a hit or wanted one? That classic heavy spooky early 70's keyboard sound that you never hear now!?! What a weird, long song!! Reminds me of King Crimson with Adrian Ballew, but this is good! Cool, goes into spacey slow part with loud spoken vocals and it's over. GOG "some will call me Satan, some will call me God," what an intro to a song! Goes into rock drum overdrive with continued vocal stories of Gog! Now the heavy crazy 1972 arena rock riffage! These guys are Emerson Lake and Palmer without the silliness! These guys must have influenced ELP?!? It's really cool how these songs seem to be open to live interpretation/improvisation that keeps them alive/new 40 years later, not to mention the insanely original lyrics, delivery and music itself. MEURGLYS III, THE SONGWRITER'S GUILD I hear Americans complain about Peter Hammill's voice but I think what it really is, is that Americans can't understand or don't have the attention span to listen and try to understand the lyrics, definitely not intellectually. This is spiritual music that is over the Van Halen States of America's head! Hammill gets such a harsh, bleak, nasty sound on his guitar, very punk and very not prog rock! This one has a Reggae feel to it! THE SLEEPWALKERS more of the same, off the chain pure prog, when it really was innovative/progressive! Into a Fellini/carnival riff, kinda goofy then back into the pounding psycho VDGG groove! It seems most great bands create their own unique musical language and that's true for these guys. For old farts they have amazing stamina. It's great to see that VDGG uses Peavey amps! What every punk band used to start with!! MAN-ERG the "hit" off Pawn Hearts!! "The killer lives inside me," then the big classic psycho riffage, watching this footage is like seeing your cool old uncles sitting around the living room and playing the most badass concert ever!! Organist Hugh Banton kinda looks like a hipper President Jimmy Carter! This music is like if the late 60's never sold out in the 70's and just went straight into punk, leaving out the Partridge Family etc.(I did like Susan Dey tho). SCORCHE EARTH the encore, more heavy topical VDGG coolness. Peter never sings my favorite lyrics, "I'm so far out I'm too far in." Unique to see dueling keyboards Hugh and Peter! Man, those guys must have been sore for days after this concert! The DVD ends with a Peter Hammill interview by John Kirkman in Amsterdam 2007. Peter talks about going on without sax player David Jackson, touring, carrying on as a trio and new material. Peter says it's a privilege to do this and decided to do the reunion because they realized they wouldn't be around forever. More excellence from Voiceprint, keep up the good work! And in a perfect world everyone would have Van der Graaf Generator in their record collection instead of Michael Jackson.
Visit the Voiceprint label site at: http://www.voiceprint.co.uk
Check out the band web site at: http://www.vandergraafgenerator.co.uk
Reviewed by Carlton crutcher