Nektar/Brainticket/Huw Lloyd-Langton – “Space Rock Invasion: Live from the Key Club, Hollywood, CA, September 3rd, 2011″ (Cleopatra Records 2012, CLP 8809, 2-DVD)

In 2011 Cleopatra Records corralled the to-die-for triple bill of Nektar, Brainticket and Huw Lloyd-Langton for a 13 date tour of the US that started in New York City on August 17th and ended in West Hollywood on September 3rd. I caught the August 28th Cleveland show which I detailed in AI #43.

Cleopatra has released a 2-DVD set documenting the September 3rd show at the Key Club in Hollywood. This is pro shot, well recorded, and Jim Lascko’s Phenomenon of Luminosity lightshow really comes alive. I felt like I was back in Cleveland again.

Huw was the opening act on the tour and as much as I’ve enjoyed his rocking guitar over the years it’s really cool seeing him up there on his own playing acoustic songs. Of the many people that have been members of Hawkwind he is among the finest all around musician that has ever served aboard the mothership. Huw strums away, sings songs, and shares humorous banter. A highlight of Huw’s set is when Joel Vandroogenbroeck from Brainticket joins him on stage for a stunningly beautiful flute-guitar duo on Solitary Mind Games. The interplay between the two is wonderful, with a loose acoustic-jazz-spiritual flavor. This was a real treat because I’m pretty sure they didn’t do this when I saw the show in Cleveland. Another surprise which definitely didn’t happen in Cleveland was members of Nektar and Brainticket joining Huw on stage for a full band space rocking and jamming Rocky Paths… WOW! This alone is worth the price of the DVDs. There’s also an interview with Huw but it’s all too brief, less than two minutes and nothing in the way of real information.

Huw Lloyd-Langton set list: Wars Are The Hobby Here, Hurry On Sundown, Solitary Mind Games, Rocky Paths, Wind Of Change, Intro from Dust Of Time

Though often described as a Krautrock band, and the music certainly did fit comfortably with the German experimental bands of the early 1970s, Brainticket was formed by Joel Vandroogenbroeck, a Belgian living in Switzerland. From 1971-1974 Brainticket released three albums of psychedelic-experimental music that are essential for anyone interested in the early 70s Kosmiche bands. Accompanying Joel on this touring version of Brainticket were Farflung members Tommy Grenas on bass, Andrew Scott on guitar, and Rodney Rodrigues on drums, plus Len del Rio was on keyboards. Tommy and Len have been among the more prolific and progressive artists on the space rock scene of the last 15 or so years, having played together in Pressurehed, Anubian Lights, Nik Turner’s band, and numerous other projects. On vocals was Abby Travis, who I’d not heard of before this tour, but has several albums of her own and has played in the Bangles and Eagles of Death Metal, among others.

The Key Club set pretty much reproduces what I saw in Cleveland, and it’s as mind-blowing here as it was when it unfolded before my eyes in Ohio. This is early 70s cosmic progressive ROCK music at it most potent and intense. The band is tight as a knot, Abby Travis is an electrifying front-woman, and it was behind Brainticket that Jim Lascko’s lightshow was at its most hypnotic. Anyone into Space Rock, Krautrock, and classic Progressive Rock should check out this set to see just how powerful a solid ROCK band with visuals can be when experienced live. Revisiting this performance almost a year to the day when I saw the show in Cleveland I have to say that Brainticket live was THE number one musical experience of 2011 for me. There’s also an interview with Joel, but like the Huw interview Joel speaks for barely a minute and… not enough time or specific questions for any substance.

Brainticket set list: Black Sand, Like A Place in The Sun, Egyptian Kings, Places Of Light, One Morning, Coc’o Mary, Watching You, Hear Me, Help Me

The second DVD is all Nektar and their set at the Key Club was similar to what I saw in Cleveland but with some glaring differences. They close out with Fidgety Queen, whereas in Cleveland they didn’t play anything from the Down To Earth album. And I was shocked to hear no Remember The Future on this Key Club performance.

Founding members Roye Albrighton (guitar and vocals) and Ron Howden (drums) are here, with Klaus Henatsch on keyboards and Lux Vibratus (from Helios Creed’s band) on bass, standing in for regular member Peter Pichl. Their set is a great mixture of classic 70s Nektar and newer songs recorded since reforming for the Nearfest progressive rock festival in 2002. I loved Nektar in the 70s because they covered so much ground, from space rock, to psychedelia, hard rock and prog rock. And that cross section is reflected nicely in this performance. The band are hot and Roye is still a SMOKING guitarist. The interview is a little longer, about 3 minutes (yeah, right, WOW!) with Roye, Ron and Klaus commenting on the tour.

Nektar set list: A Tab In The Ocean, Desolation Valley, Waves, Doctor Kool, King Of The Deep, Where Are You Now?, A Day In The Life Of A Preacher, Mr. H, Recycled, Fidgety Queen.

In summary, if you couldn’t make any of these shows last year you should run as quickly as possible to pick up this set.

For more information visit the Cleopatra Records web site at:
CLICK HERE to read my writeup of the Cleveland show year, including Brainticket and Nektar profiles and interviews, plus a review of the fantastic Brainticket Vintage Anthology box set from Cleopatra.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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