After a break of more than 25 years the British band Van Der Graaf Generator surprised the prog world with a reunion in 2005. The band returned as a quartet with four original band members: Peter Hammill (vocals, guitar, piano), Hugh Banton (organ, keyboards), Guy Evans (drums) and David Jackson (saxophones). They wanted to do more than just a one-off reunion and cashing in on the old days. They intended to take the old material into the 21st century and record new material that could compete with the old songs. However, Hammill, Banton and Evans weren't happy with the attitude of Jackson. Eventually they decided to dismiss him and carry on as a trio.
So in April 2007 a European tour was booked during which VDGG would play as a trio for the first time. Without the saxophone they had to drop some classic tracks from the set list, because they simply couldn't play them properly. Other songs had to be rearranged in such a way that either the guitar or the organ could replace the saxophone part. They even played two new songs Lifetime and All That Before. These tracks hadn't been released at the time, but meanwhile they appeared on the album Trisector (2008).
The show in Amsterdam was recorded by Fabchannel, a company that quite regularly record shows at the Paradiso to put them on their website. So this show was available on-line for quite a while. Due to the positive reactions and the good quality of the recordings, it was decided to issue it on a DVD, albeit four years later. The Amsterdam show was somewhere in the middle of the tour, so they were warmed up and in a good shape. The Paradiso is a special place for a lot of bands including VDGG. They'd played there often in the seventies and the location - a former church - is rather inspiring. Being just a trio the band plays a convincing show; the organ mostly plays the bass lines. With just a few instruments the music is very transparent and all instruments get a proper place in the overall sound. The audience is very quiet and concentrated on listening; only in between the songs they applaud. The sound quality is good and the quality of the images is acceptable. Because of the bright lights there's little colour and sometimes it almost looks like black and white. It was recorded for broadcasting on the web and therefore they didn't use the best equipment. VDGG isn't a band that's famous for their looks, anyway...
This DVD is a must for all fans VDGG and a good starting point for people who are unfamiliar with the band. The total playing time of the show is one hour and 54 minutes. As a bonus there's a sixteen-minute interview with Peter Hammill recorded in 2009.
**** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
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