Thursday, June 28, 2012

Van der Graaf Generator -- Howard Theatre - Jun 27 2012

Van der Graaf Generator - I will always cancel out all other life activities for any chance I get to see this legendary and still vibrant progressive trio. It remains the 'virtually' original three members of Pete Hammill on vocals, guitar, and piano; Guy Evans on drums; and Hugh Banton on organ with a touch of synth/samples. These three may look like they just came out of my mother's retirement home, but they managed to light up this big room in a very big way. A rather modest crowd was poised and ready and clearly knew what to expect. Guy Evans had his jazzy style mixed with powerful rock moves when needed. He can spend significant time on cymbals and high hats, or using brushes and then go into powerhouse mode at an instant. Hugh Banton smoothly emits classic organ sounds and uses big old-time bass pedals to maintain a bottom. Peter Hammill's seemingly pleasantly reedy appearance graces the stage, yet that dangerous undercurrent is still there. It always will be as he could not do these songs if he lost it. He creates such a lovely landscape with plenty of sharp shards of glass and iron jutting out at every conceivable angle. He jabs at his guitar, pounds away at piano weaving intricate patterns with the other two members, and of course handles the extensive vocals. As a vocalist, he combines style and lyrical substance at extremely high ends. I may listen to Leonard Cohen for the substance and appreciate the style or listen to Tim Buckley for the unbelievable style and appreciate the substance; but I rank Hammill with Nick Cave and Roy Harper as the vocalists where both style and substance maintain such incredibly lofty heights. And at Hammill's age (this band started in 1967!), it is amazing how strong he sounds. And I was also pleased at how everything sounded in this venue. I would guess many bands mention how much they appreciate being in this historic venue (although the Bad Brains did not), and VdGG did mention that since they started in the sixties, they understood the history of this place. And although I did, too, I would be happy seeing them in worst dump around, if they can maintain this level of energy.
Set List: Interference Patterns - Your Time Starts Now - Flight - Bunsho - Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild) - Mr. Sands - Over the Hill - Childhood's Faith in Childhood's End,  Encore - Scorched Earth.

Quote of the Night: Peter Hammill (with wry smile) while organizing his many lyric sheets... "Although I heard the one we are doing next, we don't do requests."
Person in crowd... "We know!"


z said...

Wow, what an excellent show! My first time seeing them--I missed the Annapolis show on the 24th. Thanks for the excellent review! I'm not sure if they played "All That Before", but I know they did "Meurglys III (The Songwriter's Guild)", which was totally unexpected, as far as I was concerned. Fingers crossed that they return to the area soon!

David Hintz said...

I would hope everyone enjoyed that show. It is not often I go see bands on consecutive nights (although I used to quite a bit), but I am kicking myself for not heading to Annapolis. Thanks for the song title (I knew someone would get it). That is the one they played insead of "All That Before". Hopefully they will keep playing and younger people discovering how important they were and how great they still are.

Gabriel Meza said...

Enjoy?!, Are you kidding?. It was BRUTTAL!. Here is the comment about request:

David Hintz said...

Thanks for providing the first ever audio sample of a quote of the night! Hope the rest of your video turned out great.