Big Big Train – Live at Cadogan Hall, London 2017

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One year after booking the tickets the unmissable weekend of Big Big Train live at Cadogan Hall, London was finally here – and it proved to be well worth the flights from Toronto. Words and pictures by Tim Darbyshire.

There was a palpable sense of anticipation as people arrived at the 950 capacity Cadogan Hall last Friday evening, knowing they were about to witness something very special.  Big Big Train returned to the live stage in 2015 with three shows at Kings Place (also in London), and since then the hope of more live dates has been creating world wide excitement. Accordingly, these three gigs attracted fans from Australia, the US and of course Canada as well as many European countries.

It’s not long before the foyer is packed out, and the (very reasonably priced) merch desk is doing very brisk trade with men (and women) of a certain age helping themselves to t-shirts, signed posters, programmes and even umbrellas.  Inside the auditorium, it’s great to see all 13 musicians sharing the same stage – in 2015 the 5 piece brass section were tucked away up on a balcony.  Violinist Rachel Hall is first on stage playing a haunting prelude to ‘Folklore’ and it’s standing ovations all round as the rest of the band join her and launch into the title track of 2016’s highly acclaimed album of the same title.

The setlist is a well thought out nicely balanced mix of songs from 2009’s ‘The Underfall Yard’, ‘English Electric’ (2013) , ‘Folklore’ (2016) and ‘Grimspound’ (2017).  The long epics being interspersed with lighter numbers.  Big Big Train of course is all about story telling – ‘Brave Captain’ tells the story of World War I  pilot Albert Ball  with vocalist David Longdon enthusiastically acting out the part complete with flying goggles and old fashioned microphone. ‘Last Train’ poignantly documents the tale of the last station master at Hurn station in Dorset – the song tells the story of the final day as the last train departs in 1935.  ‘London Plane’ sends shivers down the spine, and is very apt considering where we are. The song is accompanied by a film projection on a large screen (as are all the songs).

Just three songs in and it’s evident just how talented the musicians on stage actually are.  Nick D’Virgilio relentlessly drives the band forward, aided in the rhythm section by Greg Spawton’s elegant bass lines and bone-shaking bass pedals. Big Big Train encompasses a wide sound palette with keyboards (including plenty of mellotron) provided by Danny Manners, Andy Poole and Rikard Sjoblom.  Sjoblom also turns his talents to searing lead guitar lines and gentle acoustic 12-string and if that isn’t enough, provides backing vocal harmonies. The guitar duties are also shared by legend Dave Gregory, and the line up is completed by Rachel Hall whose violin beautifully cuts above the mix and of course front man David Longdon. It is Longdon who is often the focus of attention, delivering every line as if his life depended on it.

The first set takes a change of pace with ‘Meadowland’ –  a delicate acoustic number dedicated to the late John Wetton.  It was John’s vocal support of the band that helped to propel Big Big Train to where they are today.  The first set is brought to a close with the lengthy  ‘A Mead Hall In Winter’ from the ‘Grimspound’ album with plenty of opportunity for audience sing alongs…….

‘Experimental Gentlemen – Part 2’  kicks off the second half of the show after a 20 minute interval. Next up is a song I’d been hoping they would play – ‘Swan Hunter’ from ‘English Electric’. Documenting the decline of the ship building industry in the North East, and backed up by a stunning image of a ship towering over terraced houses as children play in the deserted streets, this heavily emotional piece is elevated to new heights by the brass section.

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The mood is lightened as the band romp through another crowd favourite from ‘English Electric’, ‘Judas Unrepentant’. ‘Judas’ recounts the interesting story of art restorer turned forger Tom Keating who is eventually arrested for his crimes.

Greg Spawton’s ‘The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun’ is probably my favourite track from ‘Folklore’ and this follows ‘Judas’. The brass section once again are with us, adding the textures that only they can. Not even David Longdon’s forgetting to use the ‘expensive telescope prop’ twice in three attempts can stop the enjoyment of this song. At the Sunday matinee, an audience member pointed out he’d forgotten to use the telescope, leading to an impromptu replaying of the last couple of minutes of the song with the aforementioned telescope!

By now every song is greeted with a standing ovation – a trend that continues as the band play ‘East Coast Racer’, considered by many to be BBT’s finest moment it was voted #45 in a recent poll of Prog magazine’s Top 100 anthems. ‘East Coast Racer’ tells the story of the streamlined steam train Mallard and its record breaking 126mph run on the east coast mainline in 1938.  The mellotron and bass pedals towards the end of the song has the whole place flying.

‘Telling The Bees’ is delivered with a relaxed vibe and allows time for band introductions, before the set closer ‘Victorian Brickwork’.  I’m not sure what to write about this song, after all the preceding high points of the set I didn’t think it could get even better, but it did. Glancing around the audience as the song approached its climax there were many fighting back the tears as the brass lads do what only they can do.

Nick D’Virgilio is first out for the encore which begins with a short drum solo, he then introduces the brass section one by one and the funky jazzy groove develops into a rousing crowd pleasing ‘Wassail’ with singer Longdon donning his green man mask.  Three hours after the show started and it’s all over, with everyone wanting more.

Ten minutes later and the whole band are in the foyer taking the time to meet fans, sign stuff and chat – no cash grab expensive meet and greet packages here. Despite restricted sight lines for some of the gallery seats, and audio issues during the first half of the first show which were quickly resolved during the interval, the band have delivered on all levels. Loreley Night of the Prog festival is in for a real treat in Summer 2018.

Thanks to all involved in the Big Big Train extended family for an unforgettable weekend.

Setlist Friday/Saturday/Sunday:

First Set:
Folklore Overture
Folklore
Brave Captain
Last Train
London Plane
Meadowland
A Mead Hall In Winter

Second Set:
Experimental Gentlemen
Swan Hunter
Judas Unrepentant
The Transit of Venus Across The Sun
East Coast Racer
Telling The Bees
Victorian Brickwork

Encore:
Wassail Overture
Wassail

 

Big Big Train:

Andy Poole – keyboards, guitars, mandolin
Danny Manners – keyboards
Dave Gregory – guitars
David Longdon – vocals, flute
Greg Spawton – bass, bass pedals
Nick D’Virgilio – drums, backing vocals
Rachel Hall – violin, backing vocals
Rikard Sjoblom – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals

Brass Section:
Dave Desmond – trombone
John Storey – euphonium
Nick Stones – french horn
Jon Truscott – tuba
Ben Godfrey – trumpet

 

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Big Big Train – Grimspound album arriving 28th April

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Big Big Train have revealed the artwork and track listing for the 28th April release of their ‘Grimspound’ album.

Hot on the heels of 2016’s ‘Folklore’, ‘Grimspound’ contains 8 tracks and will be the first Big Big Train release to feature a guest vocalist with  Judy Dyble of Fairport Convention fame singing lead vocal on one track.

2017 also sees Big Big Train return to the live stage with three shows at Cadogan Hall in London on September 29, 30 and October 1.

The album will be available on CD, 180g double vinyl, hi-resolution 24/96 download, standard resolution download and via streaming services.

Pre-orders will begin 2nd March, from Burning Shed and The Merch Desk.

‘Grimspound’ Track Listing:

Brave Captain
On The Racing Line
Experimental Gentlemen
Meadowland
Grimspound
The Ivy Gate
A Mead Hall In Winter
As The Crow Flies

Our Top 5 Live Albums of 2016

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Just a few personal favourites from 2016…..

1. STEVE HACKETT – The Total Experience Live In Liverpool

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2. BIG BIG TRAIN – A Stone’s Throw From The Line

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3. IQ – Live On The Road Of Bones

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4. KING CRIMSON – Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)

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5. STICK MEN – Midori

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Our Top 10 Prog Albums of 2016

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1 BIG BIG TRAIN – Folklore
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2 MARILLION – F.E.A.R.
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3 HAKEN – Affinity
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4 RIVERSIDE – Eye Of The Soundscapetop5-riverside-eots

5 THANK YOU SCIENTIST – Stranger Heads Prevailtop5-tys-stranger-heads

6 SYD ARTHUR – Apricitytop5-syd-arthur-apricity

7 STEVEN WILSON – 4 1/2top5-sw-4-1_2

8 VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR – Do Not Disturbtop5-vdgg-do-not-disturb

9 STICK MEN – Prog Noirtop5-stick-men-prog-noir

10 OPETH – Sorceress
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NEW Steve Hackett Interview – December 2016

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I caught up with Steve to discuss the forthcoming new album, the 2017 Tour and all other things Hackett-related. Many thanks to Steve for being so generous with his precious time, and also thanks to Jo Hackett facilitating the interview.

Tim Darbyshire – Hi Steve!

Steve Hackett – How are you doing Tim?

Tim – I’m good thanks how are you?

Steve – Fine thank you.

Tim – Thanks for your time tonight.

Steve – That’s alright.

Tim – Ok, so the new album, when is that due out?

Steve – Well, I think it’s going to be out in March.

Tim – Does it have a title yet?

Steve – We do have a title yes, but I haven’t officially given it out yet, so once the record company says ‘green light’ , then I will. All this stuff is being agreed at the moment – I’m just finally assembling the order of the songs. We had an order on Friday, but with some record company input there were a few changes, so we now have a new order as of today – and if it still passes muster tomorrow then that’s the one we’ll go with.

Tim – But the album is completely finished, it’s all in the can?

Steve – It’s basically in the can yes, bar the odd tweak it’s all in the can. It’s mastering at the moment, we’ve done the mixes so it’s basically down to the mastering. We’ve done a 5.1 mix as well as a stereo mix and we’ve done mastering for vinyl, except we’re doing it all over again due to the changed order. It’s a knock on effect, domino effect but in a good way I think.

Tim – So there will be a deluxe version with the 5.1 mix, maybe a double cd?

Steve – That’s right, yes I think in terms of formats there will be a blu-ray, and various things across the board basically. I’m finding it hard to keep up at the moment to be honest – I’ve been working flat out on this for over a year, but it’s coming to fruition and I’m very pleased with it. We’ve got people from all over the world on it.

Tim – So there are guest musicians besides your normal band?

Steve – Yes, there are guests on it, quite a lot of guests. There are about twenty people on it, from as far afield as Israel and Palestine working together on it.

Tim – That’s a good thing.

Steve – Azerbaijan, Hungary, The States. Some stuff was recorded in Italy, some in Budapest, some in London, it’s like an ‘on location’ kind of thing – and it’s got that kind of feel about it. I think it’s got a very….I’ve never used the word international before…… but it has a kind of international feel to it. There are aspects of World Music on it, it’s basically a rock album – but it does keep wandering off into other genres, crossing borders all the time.

Tim – Sounds like a very nice eclectic mix.

Steve – Yes, it is a nice eclectic mix and I’m just playing it to people for the first time. I’m just at my mother’s tonight in fact – she hasn’t been very well – and I’m playing it to her and she loves it already. It’s making her feel better, so it’s doing its job already! Music is supposed to heal, and that’s what it’s doing at the moment, and I’m pleased about that.

Tim – I hope she gets well soon, I know she’s a big supporter of your music.

Steve – Thank you, yes she’s been a huge support and huge enthusiast, all of those things. I think she will recover, but for several weeks she’s been ill with the lurgy basically – I think she’s on the road to recovery, but she’s having to fight this and it’s a little harder for her because of her age. There aren’t too many concessions to age with my Mum!

Tim – So early 2017 sees you back on the road, and I see you’ve got Nick Beggs back in the band.

Steve – Yes, Nick Beggs and we’ve got Nad as well with the regular band. We’ll also be celebrating the 40th year of ‘Wind and Wuthering’, so we’re doing quite a bit of that album – not all of it – but we’re doing what I think are the strongest tracks.

Tim – I was reading online that you’ll be playing ‘One For The Vine’ and ‘Inside And Out’, which is an interesting selection.

Steve – Yes, ‘Inside And Out’ wasn’t on the original album, but if it had been a cd it would have been on the original album as I think it’s very strong. To my mind, stronger than some of the tracks that ended up on the album, but I think it’s a favourite of fans and deserves to be more widely heard, so we’ll be doing that as well and I’m looking forward to it.

Tim – What was your involvement in that track originally, from a writing viewpoint?

Steve – Mainly the instrumental stuff at the end. That and guitar parts in the song itself.

Tim – It has a kind of latter day ‘Cinema Show’ feel to it.

Steve – I think it has some aspects of that, in that it has 12-string then it expands away from that. It’s very much in the Genesis tradition – well shall we say early Genesis – where songs started small and became very big, so you’ve got that dynamic range being covered within a song that is also a story. I think that’s something the band did very well.

Tim – You did actually play it live towards the end of the 1977 tour didn’t you?

Steve – We did, we played it in 1977, it was part of the live show so it couldn’t have been so bad!

Tim – And ‘One For The Vine’, that’s another epic song isn’t it?

Steve – Yes it is an epic, it’s a favourite of many people, many fans including my wife who said ‘Why don’t you do that?’. I cracked under torture! I’m just kidding, seriously…..when I left the band I saw them playing it live a few years later at Hammersmith (1980), and I thought it was very very strong live – perhaps stronger than on record, it just seemed to work so very well. I thought, ah I finally see what this is all about, which is often the case, some songs work extremely well live, it’s all about the band, it’s all about the performance, the response of the crowd, the lights – the whole thing, the show, the presentation.

Tim – Will you be playing ‘In That Quiet Earth’, ‘Afterglow’?

Steve – Yes we will be doing ‘In That Quiet Earth’, ‘Afterglow’, we’ll be doing ‘Blood On The Rooftops’……what else, we’ll be doing ‘Eleventh Earl Of Mar’ again as well. We were doing that at the beginning of touring the Genesis stuff about three years ago, or was it four years ago, but then we sidelined it. To do a set of things from ‘Wind and Wuthering’ I think we really have to do that, I think that’s all of the ones that we’re doing…..the ones that are more dramatic live. I know there’s other songs on there which are catchy and what have you, but for my money that’s the strongest live stuff.

Tim – I also read you’re bringing ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’ back in?

Steve – That’s right, yes

Tim – And you’ll be playing ‘Anyway’ for the first time?

Steve – That’s right, yes, I’ll be playing ‘Anyway’ for the first time since 1975. Yes we haven’t done that one for a very long time, and I look forward to doing that one – at the suggestion of Nad funnily enough, he said why don’t you do that, so again I said ok if you like that. I think it’s a very good tune. I’m hoping I might be able to play the three-part guitar harmony because these days we have intelligent harmonisers, so I’m hoping I can get close to it, we’ll see how we go.

Tim – Will it be similar to the last tour where you do a set of solo material then a set of Genesis songs?

Steve – I’ve started a tradition of being two bands in one, I think. Whatever we play of the solo material – we’ll be doing some stuff off the new album – I’m fully aware what most fans tend to want is a reminder of what they were doing when their hormones were raging, and so the plan is to have one eye on the future and one on the past. I try to deliver all things to all people……

Tim – It seems you need to play two hours of solo stuff and two hours of Genesis then everyone will be happy!

Steve – Yep, I might get to that point, but I probably would have to have two bands, because I don’t think one band would be able to stand the pace of that….. then I’d be going one better than Bruce Springsteen wouldn’t I? Four hours on stage, we’re heading towards Wagner here if we do that.

Tim – Wishful thinking. There seems to be a trend these days of announcing part the setlist ahead of time. Is that promoter driven or fans wanting to know?

Steve – Yes, that’s true I seem to have given away most of the setlist off the top of my head. I think there’s a trend towards that, people like to know what they’re going get these days. It’s driven I think mainly by fans, so I’ve said I’ll do one of the tracks on ‘Darktown’ – ‘Rise Again’ – that was a favourite at the time and in a way it’s a vocal style I’ve adopted again on this new album – starting the melody down the octaves, a kind of intoning voice and then it becomes a cry. It’s a vocal style that I feel comfortable with, so very happy to be playing that. We’re also going to be doing ‘The Steppes’ – people have asked for that – and ‘Serpentine Song’ which I believe is off ‘To Watch The Storms’, another favourite. So, I do respond to people’s suggestions but I can’t keep everyone happy……

When we do the show with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra that’ll be a different set, that will involve ‘Supper’s Ready’ and various other things so we’re kind of learning two sets, kind of heading a little to what you were talking about, the three, four hour show, but often these sets end up being two and a half hours or slightly more.

Tim – We’re coming to the Buffalo show, so really looking forward to that.

Steve – I’m looking forward to that, I’m looking forward to the Cruise, I’m looking forward to the tour, to everywhere we’re going to play. I’m also looking forward next year to covering places I’ve not been to before like Australia, New Zealand, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Singapore – the world seems to be opening up to this music which has had quite a gestation period to achieve its…..if I said ‘target audience’- I mean hardly because back in the day it was all a shot in the dark. It’s nice that it’s survived in the affections of so many people.

Tim – It has matured with age?

Steve – I think so, yes, like a wine in a cask, I think for some songs the prime time is now, having been in that period of fermentation shall we say, fermenting in the affections of people for a very long time.

Tim – Going back to the Buffalo show, is there a lot of preparation work you have to do with the orchestra? I guess they’ll be reading sheet music?

Steve – Yes, they’ve been doing arrangements and there’s some arrangements which I played live when I was in Iceland doing two shows with the band called Todmobile – who have also worked with Jon Anderson, doing great versions of not just Genesis stuff, but Yes stuff as well. They did a great job, so there are some charts from that and some charts that the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra have come up with.

It’s all not so much dipping your toe in the water as jumping straight in. I love what orchestras bring to rock music, I love the marriage of the two. Ever since we started experimenting with mellotrons, using that as a kind of surrealistic time machine – I always felt that if for instance I talk about my early heroes The Beatles, they were at their most interesting when they had as wide a sound canvas as possible.

That use of the orchestra, the way it worked with them and obviously mellotron as well, it was a great combination of things, so we kind of use everything, anything we can lay our hands on. I think that’ll be a very interesting show. Obviously you have to take risks – the biggest risk is who’s going to count 1, 2, 3, 4? Normally it’s the drummer, will it be the conductor?! It all has to be in sync, you have to have an agreement with an orchestra.

Tim – Might this become more than a one-off venture?

Steve – Well it’s a one-off, but if it works of course it means that we have the facility and the possibility of working with this thing more in the future. Not that I would want to have an orchestra that I was carrying round – I don’t want to flounder on that rock – I think you’d have to use different orchestras in different places. But it is starting to happen with me more, I worked with an orchestra in Germany a while back, I worked with an orchestra or two in Iceland, and it went very well in both cases, and now we’re doing it with the Buffalo people. It’s all a case of the more risks you take, the more inclusive and immersive the whole thing can be.

Tim – So the Genesis days, 40 to 45 years ago now, six great studio albums you were involved with, as we’ve just been saying it seems to be getting better with age. At the time though was it a bit of a struggle, financially and personally?

Steve – Well yes, I think all bands have their problems, as you say to finance it…..to finance it there was a lot of investment, not just financial but emotional as well. But it was worth it, it was a huge challenge from beginning to end for me, but my heart is still very much there in lots of that music.

Tim – Why do you think maybe it isn’t for the other four?

Steve – I think in a way there are two types of Genesis. There is the earlier band, the pre-video era – I like to think of it as the pre-pop era as well – and many of the fans loved that music. In the end, for the last two years with the band we were playing arenas and filling them, so there was a huge audience for that kind of music, so I think it proved itself to be hugely commercial and has sold ‘billions’ since. It all depends on your perception, I can understand it in terms of a band that becomes more streamlined, less personalities, less politics……and so I think it’s very easy to throw out the baby with the bath water and for them say everything prior to that time was a problem because of da da da da da……

But I don’t think fans see it like that, and many fans that love the early work of the band – who I suspect are the same fans who listened to Pink Floyd and Yes, and ELP and Procol Harum and many bands who were very melodic with an emphasis on musicianship. I think that they felt disenfranchised by the new direction of the band, but I’m certainly not going to complain, because once you leave a band it’s going to become whatever it becomes, and I totally respect what it became and think the band was interesting in all its incarnations but obviously I’m drawn to something that is closer in spirit to this pan-genre approach which includes what orchestras can do and what big bands can do, and a kind of music that is able to turn on a dime and bridge generation gaps and do all sorts of things that I think a three or four minute pop single doesn’t do.

So all I can say is that I’m interested in prolonging the life – certainly live – of the music that I considered to be weird and wonderful and a kind of musical odyssey and journey and all those things that Peter Gabriel still describes it as. There’s a lot of good stuff, and I’m only too happy to go and play that stuff again.

Tim – Would you say that ‘Voyage of the Acolyte’ sowed the seed that maybe you’d rather go out solo on your own?

Steve – Well I think certainly composition by committee has its limitations for groups. I think groups can write wonderful things together, but at the same time it’s impossible to keep a lid on it. If one guy wants to go and do solo things, and you know the others don’t really want him to go and do it…… Pete wanted to have a solo career in parallel with Genesis and certain factions in the band made that impossible, so in the end one’s allegiance has to be to the music, or the totality of what music can become – at the same time it doesn’t mean that I disown those songs, those songs don’t become orphans just because I say ‘no son of mine’ (to quote a particular song).

I still love those songs, they’re all shared-brain children with the other guys and I care hugely about them, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing them again.

Tim – Have you had any feedback from the others? Have they seen the show at all?

Steve – No no, the other guys don’t come to the shows. Genesis is a very competitive band, the individuals are all very competitive.

Tim – Even now?

Steve – Yes, they don’t do that sort of thing, it’s an unspoken rule. You have to be able to speak ‘Genesis’ to understand it, and I totally respect it you know, if you’re that competitive with your thinking you won’t do that. I think everyone wants the other guy to do well, but maybe just not quite as well as you’re doing yourself if you know what I mean? It’s a very British repressed fucked up kind of thing, but hey, what the hell.

Tim – So ‘Wind and Wuthering’ is forty years old, when you recorded it was the writing truly on the wall for you?

Steve – Oh yes, the writing was on the wall for me at that time I think, it wasn’t that I didn’t love the album – I certainly thought the album was very strong, but politics played its part with all of this, and you can’t keep a good Hackett down! I had to get out there and work with other people, I couldn’t have still-born brain children and that was what was on offer so I had to go out and work with other people. Wonderful people as it happens, wonderful then and wonderful now.

I still love all the guys of course, all hugely talented and they’ve all written wonderful songs and done wonderful stuff, you can’t knock that you know. Genesis was a force of nature, it’s sad there is no band at the moment but you’ve got to respect everyone’s right not to play that stuff or not to be that thing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate those early years because I gave it everything I could, gave it my full attention, writing and shaping the live show and trying to do some things by stealth – noticing things that other people didn’t notice, trying to put those things right. I’m writing a book at the moment, so I’ll put the record straight for all those that have collective amnesia with this.

Tim – Great, I was going to ask about an autobiography as it’s been a few years since Alan Hewitt’s book.

Steve – Yes, I’m working on it at the moment, once I’ve got the album out of the way I’ll be concentrating on that.

Tim – You’re always so busy.

Steve – I’m a busy boy, yes!

Tim – I’m sure it’ll be a very interesting read, I did enjoy Mike Rutherford’s, Phil Collins’ and Peter Gabriel’s recent books.

Steve – Yes, Phil has just done his and I enjoyed reading their books and I’ll get my own back with mine!

Tim – Is there any thought to doing any more studio recordings of Genesis material?

Steve – I’ve got it on a back-burner, but it’s not a priority at the moment. There are many things that we’ve done live that I haven’t recorded, or re-recorded, so there’s always the possibility of that at some point but I’m not looking at ‘Genesis Revisited 3’ at the moment. I think it’s also important for music to have a future, much as it’s nice to keep the museum doors open, I think to pension yourself off is not a good idea if you’re hot to trot in terms of new stuff – look what guitars can do now for instance, look what technology affords one and what experience brings to it, so I’m still as passionate about it all as I ever was.

Tim – It sounds like you have a nice balance between creating new music and celebrating the past?

Steve – Oh well that’s it, that’s the whole point isn’t it? I think if I saw for instance a Paul McCartney gig, I know I’d be very happy to hear him do ‘Band On The Run’, but I’d also be very happy if he breaks into ‘Eleanor Rigby’ you know, and ‘All My Loving’ and all that – I think they’re gorgeous songs from out of the jewel box.

I have much the same affection for the songs that I think were rather wonderful that we did at one time – I’m allowed to be a fan of the other people in the band, a team of great writers who came up with wonderful stunning material and it’s great to have been part of that, it’s great to have written with everybody.

Tim – It’s important that you’re keeping it alive.

Steve – That’s the idea, keeping it alive.

Tim – Great Steve, thanks for you time tonight, looking forward to seeing you in Oakville and Buffalo next year.

Steve – Brilliant, I look forward to it as well, absolutely. Thank you.

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For all the latest Steve Hackett news visit Steve’s website.

Steve Hackett 2017 Tour Dates:

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Read my April 2016 interview with Steve Hackett here.

Read my Steve Hackett 2016 Live review and see photos here.

 

King Crimson – On (And Off) The Road (19 disc Deluxe Box Set)

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‘On (And Off) The Road’ is the latest in DGM/Panegyric’s super deluxe King Crimson box set series. As opposed to previous sets which concentrated on individual albums, this one breaks the mould by covering the band’s three 1980s albums – ‘Discipline’ (1981), ‘Beat’ (1982), and ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ (1984). Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

It’s November, so it must be time for another super deluxe King Crimson box set! This one weighs in at 19 discs –  11 x CD, 3 x blu-ray, 3 x DVD-A, 2 x DVD – and provides a thoroughly detailed overview of King Crimson in the 1980s.

Each of the three studio albums represented here have their own cd, blu-ray and DVD-A discs with the latest Steven Wilson 5.1 surround mixes and ‘new’ stereo mixes.  Of special interest is CD 5 entitled ‘Fragmented’, taken from the aborted 1983 studio sessions in Champaign, Illinois.  There’s plenty of live concerts and videos included too. This includes the final concert from each of King Crimson’s tours of this era: Japan 1981 (new to CD), Germany 1982 (new mixes for this edition), Canada 1984 (issued as ‘Absent Loversin ’98 but remastered for this edition). Everything is  presented in the high quality we’ve come to expect from these expansive DGM/Panegyric box sets.

The sturdy 12″ x 12″ box contains 5 six-panel triple digipaks, a 12″ x 12″ card with the other 4 discs, 2 concert posters,  a 1984 Japanese tour replica concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and a 40-page album sized soft cover book.

The book contains previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleeve-notes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries and new interview material with all band members written by the excellent Sid Smith and David Singleton. The extracts from Fripp’s diaries are particularly interesting, documenting the thought processes behind reforming the band.

Seven years after the demise of King Crimson after the album ‘Red’ in 1974, Robert Fripp decided it was time to return to the ‘first division’ and put together a quartet of musicians under the guise of Discipline.  Fripp, who had spent many of the interim years in New York, was au fait with the New Wave bands on both sides of the Atlantic and accordingly recruited Americans Adrian Belew (Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, David Bowie) and Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel). Bill Bruford – a link to previous incarnations of King Crimson – completed the quartet, and although the music bore little resemblance to Fripp’s 1970s band, Discipline changed their name to King Crimson as the project gained momentum.

The three resulting albums – 1981’s ‘Discipline’, 1982’s ‘Beat’ and 1984’s ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ – have a more updated New Wave sound, partly due to Belew’s distinctive vocals and second guitar. Fripp was also looking to create ‘gamelan’ style of interlocking rhythms – an early influence for the math-rock bands of today? – and his complex arpeggios dovetailed with Belew’s range of angular guitar sounds.

Although ultimately short-lived – the band was dissolved after the 1984 tour by Fripp – this line up remains a popular one among aficionados. It was also the first time in Crimson history that the same band had recorded more than one album. Interestingly, until the very recent inclusion of ‘Indiscipline’ in the setlist, the 1980’s period has been ignored by Robert Fripp and the latest incarnation of King Crimson as they tour today.

Clearly, as with all box sets, this release isn’t aimed at attracting new fans. As the 1980s led us to commercialism and certain prog bands’ biggest selling (and worst) albums, King Crimson avoided falling into that trap. As a result, these three albums sound more current than most of Yes’ or Genesis’ 1980s output. The new mixes are (predictably) sonically stunning, and the plethora of material contained here makes this box a must-have for any fan of 1980s Crimson.

Luckily Robert Fripp owns all the rights to King Crimson’s recordings, a process that was not without a struggle. This of course means he has the freedom to release these large box sets. Somehow, sadly, I doubt we’ll ever see ‘Close To The Edge’ or ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ receive the same treatment……

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Full details of box contents (from Burning Shed website):

Disc 1 – Discipline:

1. Elephant Talk
2. Frame by Frame
3. Matte Kudasai
4. Indiscipline
5. Thela Hun Gingeet
6. The Sheltering Sky
7. Discipline

Bonus tracks:
Selection of Adrian’s vocal loops
Alt. mixes of The Sheltering Sky & Thela Hun Ginjeet mixed by Steven Wilson.


Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2011). Mastered by

Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Disc 2 – Live in Japan:

Taken from an audience cassette recording at Kokusai Hall, Tokyo on December 18th, the final concert in 1981. Audio restored & newly mastered at DGM by David Singleton and Alex R Mundy 2016. (1)

Disc 3 – Beat:

Neal and Jack and Me
Heartbeat
Sartori In Tangier
Waiting Man
Neurotica
Two Hands
The Howler
Requiem (extended version)

Absent Lovers (instrumental studio recording)

Mixed and produced from the original
multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and
Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by
Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Disc 4 – Live at Alabamahalle:

Recorded September 29 in Munich, the
final concert in 1982. Remastered and
recompiled 2016 by David Singleton
and Alex R Mundy with six tracks
from new audio sources. (2)

Disc 5 – Fragmented:

Mostly recorded January 17-30, 1983
at C.V. Lloyd Music, Champaign, IL
Recording Engineer: Gary Platt,
Produced by Robert Fripp and David
Singleton. Two new bonus tracks 2016. (3)

Disc 6 – Three of a Perfect Pair:

CD – 2016 Stereo Mix:

Left side:

1. Three of a Perfect Pair
2. Model Man; Sleepless
3. Man with an Open Heart
4. Nuages (That Which Passes
5. Passes Like Clouds

Right side:

1. Industry
2. Dig Me
3. No Warning
4. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic III

Additional tracks:

1. The King Crimson Barber Shop    
2. Robert’s Ballad    
3. Shidare Zakura    
4. Industrial Zone A    
5. Industrial Zone B    
6. Industrial Zone C   


Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by

Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Discs 7 & 8 – Absent Lovers:

Live at The Spectrum, Montreal, July 11th, the final concert of 1984. Mixed by David Singleton & Robert Fripp from the original multi-track tapes for the DGM release Absent Lovers (1998). As newly recompiled in high-resolution for inclusion on Disc 15

Disc 9 – Are You Recording Gary?:

An insight into the inner working of the band, and the familiar heard in an unfamiliar way. Edited & assembled by David Singleton from original album session tapes, with additional downmixes by Alex R. Mundy

Disc 10: – Discipline (dvd-a):

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2011 mix & additional tracks in 24/96 and Album rough mixes in 24/48
Video content: Old Grey Whistle Test (4)

Disc 11 – Beat (dvd-a):

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2016 mix & Alternate Album in 24/48
Video content: Heartbeat promo; two tracks live in Munich (4)

Disc 12 – Three of a Perfect Pair (dvd-a):

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix;
original mix; 2016 mix in 24/48
Video content: Sleepless promo (4)

Disc 13 – Discipline (blu-ray):

Contents as Disc 10 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content:
Moles Club French TV interview
Live in Frejus 2016 audio & video transfers

Disc 14 – Beat (blu-ray):

Contents as Disc 11 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content:
Complete Alabamahalle TV broadcast (widescreen format).

Disc 15 – Three of a Perfect Pair (blu-ray):

Contents as Disc 12 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content: Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan (Widescreen format).
Japan April 29th 1984 Part Show;
Japan April 29th 1984 (single camera);
Japan April 30th 1984 (single camera).
Audio content: Absent Lovers
High resolution and surround sound
­
Disc 16 – Live at Moles Club:

Taken from an audience cassette recording of April 30, 1981, the very first performance by Belew, Fripp, Bruford & Levin, while still called Discipline. Remastered and recompiled 2016. (2)

Disc 17 – Europe 1982:

A newly discovered unreleased live album. Mixed by Brad Davis & Robert Fripp in 1983. Taken from the concert in The Arena, Frejus, August 27th 1982. Plus four bonus tracks from the remainder of the concert

Disc 18 – More Neal and Jack and Me (dvd):

Video content: The Noise – Live in Frejus as previously released on the DGM DVD Neal and Jack and Me (2002). Plus Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan – re-assembled from newly discovered master reels with previously unseen footage. Both in their original 4:3 standard definition format.

Disc 19 – The Town and the City (dvd):

Audio content: Live in Philadelphia, Asbury Park, Cap D’Agde, Frejus 24/48 high-resolution stereo, Europe1982, previously unreleased live album 24/96 high-resolution stereo
Video content:
Alabamahalle TV broadcast in its original
4:3 standard definition format.

Also includes:

40-page album-sized booklet with
previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleevenotes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries, new interview material with all band members written by Sid Smith and David Singleton

2 concert posters, concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and other memorabilia

1) Previously available as a download only from http://www.dgmlive.com
2) Released in an earlier format in King Crimson Collectors’ Club.
3) Partly released in earlier format in King Crimson Collectors’ Club.
4) Available in King Crimson 40th Anniversary Series

Haken – Affinity

UK prog-metallers Haken have just released ‘Affinity’ on Inside Out, and I’m pleased to say, they’ve maintained the quality of their recent output – 2013’s ‘The Mountain’ and 2014’s ‘Restoration’ EP. – Review by Tim Darbyshire

Housed in a retro 1980s style sleeve, ‘Affinity’ is loosely a concept album based around the evolution of computing and humanity, the relationship between man and machine, human behaviour, modern society and and it also asks if artificial intelligence will ever surpass the human capacity to create/recreate life. According to vocalist Ross Jennings, ‘Affinity’ “is more like a soundtrack to a series of recurring themes than an actual concept album.”

Having enjoyed the 1970s style of ‘The Mountain’ and ‘Restoration’ – especially the nods towards Gentle Giant style vocal harmonies – I was unsure what a Haken album influenced by 1980s sounds – 90125 Yes, Toto, King Crimson Discipline era etc – would sound like. What Haken have delivered is another quality album that just sounds like Haken to me.

Kicking off with ‘Initiate’, ‘1985’ and ‘Lapse’, we’re in familiar territory from the off – crazy rhythms, great basslines, quirky time signatures, anthemic vocals, all full of energy. ‘1985’ pays homage to Yes ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ territory. The centrepiece (and longest track at over 15 minutes) is ‘The Architect’ featuring guest vocals from Einar Solberg of Leprous. This song encompasses the full range of Haken’s sound – it’s huge sonically with plenty of subtlety contrasting with the full on aural battery. ‘Earthrise’ continues in anthemic style, ‘Red Giant’ slows things down slightly before the pace picks up again with ‘The Endless Knot’. ‘Bound By Gravity’ closes out the album with a relatively slower feel, proving again that Haken aren’t just about intricacy and heaviness.

The limited edition double CD contains an instrumental version of the CD, an enjoyable if not essential listen. The European version is housed in an attractive hard digibook, whereas disappointingly in comparison the US version comes in a soft digipak.

The band are currently on tour in Europe, hopefully they will return to Canada/US later this year to promote ‘Affinity’

More info and tour dates are on Haken’s website.

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King Crimson – Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair coming in 5.1

From DGMLive website:

DGM have confirmed the next releases in its celebrated King Crimson 40th anniversary CD/DVD-A series for an October release. ‘Beat’ (1982) and ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’ (1984) have been remixed in stereo and 5.1 surround sound by Steven Wilson with Robert Fripp.

Confirmation of full track listing / contents and a pre-sale announcement will follow in the next two weeks. Also it should be noted that all material on both titles will also be a part of a forthcoming King Crimson boxed set – “On and Off The Road 1981-1984”, also due for release in October 2016.

It has also been confirmed by David Singleton that ‘Discipline’ will be included in the new box set, neatly putting all 3 1980s King Crimson output in one place.

Following on from the recent ‘Live In Toronto 2015’ official bootleg series double cd set, a ‘full’ live release is planned also for later this year –  CD/Blu-ray, ‘Live In Takamatsu’, presumably to coincide with the European tour later this year.

Exciting and expensive times for the King Crimson fan!

Tour Dates:

Sunday 4th September Aylesbury Friars at the Waterside Theatre
Monday 5th September Aylrsbury Friars at the Waterside Theatre
Thursday, 8th September, Beethoven-Saal, Stuttgart
Friday 9th September, Beethoven-Saal, Stuttgart
Sunday 11th September, Admiralpalast, Berlin
Monday 12th September, Admiralpalast, Berlin
Wednesday 14th September, Forum Karlin,Prague
Thursday 15th September, Forum Karlin, Prague
Saturday 17th September, House of Music & Dance, Zabrze
Sunday 18th September, House of Music & Dance, Zabrze
Tuesday 20th September, National Forum Of Music, Wroclaw
Wednesday 21st September, National Forum Of Music, Wroclaw
Friday 23rd September, Falkoner, Copenhagen
Saturday 24th September, Falkoner, Copenhagen
Monday 26th September, Sentrum Scene,Oslo
Tuesday 27th September, Sentrum Scene, Oslo
Wednesday 28th September, Sentrum Scene. Oslo
Friday 30th September, Filadelfiakyrkan, Stockholm
Saturday 1st October, Filadelfiakyrkan. Stockholm
Monday 3rd October, Mehr! Theater, Hamburg
Wednesday 2nd November  Stadsschouwburg Antwerp
Thursday 3rd November Stadsschouwburg Antwerp
Saturday 5th November Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan
Sunday 6th November  Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan
Tuesday 8th November Teatro Verdi, Florence,
Wednesday 9th November Teatro Verdi, Florence,
Friday 11th November Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome
Saturday 12th November Auditorium Conciliazione, Rome
Monday 14th November Teatro Coloseeo, Torino
Tuesday 15th November Teatro Coloseeo, Torino
Thursday 17th November Opéra Garnier, Monte Carlo
Friday 18th November Opéra Garnier, Monte Carlo
Monday 21st November, Palacio de Congresos, Madrid
Tuesday 22nd November, Palacio de Congresos, Madrid
Thursday 24th November, Auditori del Forum, Barcelona
Friday 25th November, Auditori del Forum, Barcelona
Sunday 27th November Le SIlo, Marseille
Wednesday 30th November Museumsquartier, Vienna
Thursday 1st December Museumsquartier, Vienna
Saturday 3rd December Salle Pleyel, Paris
Sunday 4th December Salle Pleyel, Paris

YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans 5.1 Release Coming Soon

YEStfto

Confirmed by Steve Howe at the recent YES concert in Newcastle, and now on the official YES facebook page,  1973’s epic ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is the next YES album to receive the Steven Wilson 5.1 surround deluxe treatment.

From Steven Wilson’s Remixes Facebook page: Started in 2013 and finally completed in April this year (so that’s 3 years in the making folks), my remix of the double album “Tales from Topographic Oceans” by Yes will be released later this year. More information soon.

‘Tales’ will be the fifth YES release by Panegyric, following ‘The Yes Album’, ‘Close To The Edge’,  ‘Fragile’, and ‘Relayer’. Sid Smith has also confirmed he has written the new sleeve liner notes.

No release date has been announced yet, but I’m expecting two versions, a CD/blu-ray and a CD/dvd-a following the previous releases . Hopefully it will be released to coincide with the Summer YES tour, where the band is playing ‘The Revealing Science Of God’ and ‘Ritual’ from the album.

YES Summer US Tour Dates:

YES-USA-2016

Jul 27: Columbus Celeste Center, OH
Jul 30: Atlantic City Tropicana, NJ
Jul 31: Bethlehem Sands Event Center, PA
Aug 02: Lewiston Artpark, NY
Aug 04: Lynn Auditorium, MA
Aug 05: Walingford Toyota Oakdale Theatre, CT
Aug 06: Westbury Theatre, NY
Aug 09: Staten Island St George Theatre, NY
Aug 10: Englewood Bergen Performing Arts Center, NJ
Aug 12: Port Chester The Capitol, NY
Aug 13: Morristown Mayo Performing Arts Center, NJ
Aug 16: Washington Warner Theatre, DC
Aug 17: Munhall Carnegie Of Homestead Music Hall, PA
Aug 19: Sterling heights Freedom Hill Amp, MI
Aug 20: Chigago Copernicus Center, IL
Aug 21: Milwaukee Pabst Theater, WI
Aug 24: Denver Paramount Theatre, CO
Aug 26: Anaheim The Grove, CA
Aug 27: Las Vegas Downtown Event Center, NV
Aug 28: Santa Barbara Arlington Theatre, CA
Aug 30: Los Angeles Orpheum Theater, CA
Aug 31: Saratoga The mountain Winery, CA
Sep 02: Reno Silver Legacy Casino, NV
Sep 03: Paso Robles Vina Robles Winery, CA
Sep 04: San Diego Humphrey’s, CA