Exposé Online banner

Lifesigns — Live in London - Under the Bridge
((Not on label) LML002, 2015, CD+DVD)

by Mike McLatchey, Published 2018-10-18

Live in London - Under the Bridge Cover art

I’m not sure if it was rediscovering IQ and Marillion, or discovering Big Big Train, or perhaps a whole combination of things, but my interests, in part, have gravitated towards modern English progressive music of late. I find this an interesting subject in particular as progressive rock and pop music are often considered at odds and yet so many newer UK groups performing symphonic rock do so with just as many nods to the Beatles and their lineage, incorporating influences from the Electric Light Orchestra, Supertramp, Alan Parsons Project, 10cc, and others. You wouldn’t think that this sort of songwriting would necessarily fit in with Gentle Giant-like complexity and heavier progressive moves, but John Young’s Lifesigns demonstrates that not only can these two styles coexist, they can actually elevate each other.

Over the last year I grabbed both Lifesigns studio albums and enjoyed them both. But I do find it a powerful thing to be able to see a band play live, there’s something cool about getting to see a bit of how. Lifesigns have gone through some personnel changes at the guitar spot. Under the Bridge introduces one to the window of time guitarist Niko Tsonev was in the group, a player so good you would wonder how they could ever possibly replace him. Well, until I heard his replacement was Iona’s incredibly talented Dave Bainbridge. Yeah, the pedigree in this band is sky high, every chair manned by a talented player and singer.

Having been released in between the two studio albums, this live album (which you get on CD and DVD) covers the first album with the upcoming new material from Cardington. The live renditions of the first album show a band gradually adjusting and improving the material considerably, but the huge change definitely comes hearing Tsonev’s first solo in “Lighthouse.” It’s like someone with Holdsworth's chops giving the Gilmour or Rothery playbook a go and sent me back to the liner notes on the first album (wow Steve Hackett was on this? Cool). “Telephone” is perhaps a signature track by the group, not only in that it’s such a solid balance between well crafted hooks and progressive rock, but the telephone box(es) on the cover (modern and not like a TARDIS) also give it a way a bit. I absolutely love the way the bass groove, the group vocals (often split and working in harmony) and wistful vibe come together on this one, it’s a testament to how strong the songwriting is.

As the set continues, (then) upcoming material from Cardington starts to become previewed and it all shows a momentum starting to roll, the songwriting and instrumental ideas starting to pour out with the inspiration. The energy is really kept high by Jon Poole’s physical bass style throughout, think of it perhaps as a punchier take on Tony Levin circa So era Peter Gabriel. Young weaves all kind of beautiful melodies in from the synthesizers with just the right touch of Tony Banks and does so effortlessly. Even when the band is performing complex instrumental material they can start dropping in clever vocal hooks and it just reminds me that even in the 70s the best symphonic rock was that way because of its memorability. “Impossible” is just a perfect example, the type of hook that can stick in your head for days but not bug you while it’s doing it. “Fridge Full of Stars” is a loving tribute to classic Yes and the finale here and on the debut, “Carousel,” really shows that the band can write the tricky, multi-part longform piece as good as anyone out there at the moment.

I found Under the Bridge a revelation and it sent me back to the studio albums with much greater understanding of and appreciation for the material. In fact, if the band decided to crowfund another set like this I’d be all in at the beginning. This is just a brilliant, if not flawless set, played by a band who clearly love what they’re doing and do it well.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Lifesigns

More info
http://www.lifesigns.me/product-category/music/

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Brainstorm - Liquid Monster – This is German metal quintet Brainstorm’s seventh release to date and finds them in a more traditional frame of mind than most metal coming out of Europe these days. It seems that everyone else has...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues