Andy Tillison has been a pioneer in the progressive rock scene for more years than he would care to remember, always innovating, forever creating some of the most erudite, informed music around.
If ever proof was needed, this double live CD (triple on vinyl) links together three of The Tangent's shows recorded in 2004, 2012 and 2017 respectively, Tillison joined by equally gifted artistes who have also been instrumental in developing the musical project's sophisticated, instantly recognisable sound.
All the tracks on CD 1 were from their 2004 concert at Colos Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany, which was released but has been out of print for years. This was when the band also include luminaries Roine Stolte, Jonas Reingold, Zoltan Czörsz and Sam Baines.
All its songs came from the first two albums and is a timely reminder of the band at the height of its power, playing for the sheer joy of it, the band members totally at ease playing with and off each other, allowing each other to come to the fore, notably on A Canterbury Sequence, during which Reingold delivers a thunderous bass solo.
Its overriding jazzy vibe offers constant delights and little deviations, such as when Tillison plays a few bars of Bert Bacharach's (What The World Needs Now Is) Love Sweet Love and Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-da-Vida during The Winning Game and Tales From Topographic Oceans' The Remembering towards the end of the Yes-inspired In Darkest Dreams. They round it all off with a very faithful rendition of ELP's classic Lucky Man.
CD2 features concerts at Southend's Bar Riga in 2012 and NJ Proghouse in New Jersey in 2017, the newer iterations of The Tangent, bringing in Luke Machin on guitar, Dan Mash on bass and both Tony “Funkytoe” Latham and Steve Roberts on drums.
Tillison is angrier and more strident on A Sale Of Two Souls which is just him and his keyboards, together with a few bars of Steely Dan's Do It Again.
Always outstanding is the Perdu Dans Paris, the beautiful, underplayed observation of the two sides of the city, Machin's guitar subdued and sublime.
A Crisis In Midlife has a sharper, crisper sound, underpinned by a big bass sound and heavy beat. Latham's huge drum barrage begins the epic Titanic Calls Carpathia while the closing Two Rope Swings has a more wistful feel.
Tillison takes his place in the prog pantheon for being a consummate composer and commentator in the world he observes and plays through. It is all here during nearly two and a half hours of live music of the highest order, the sound quality absolutely crystal clear throughout. To bracket it simply under the prog heading does not do the music or the creators justice.
***** Alison Reijman
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