Exposé Online banner

Van der Graaf Generator — Real Time
(Fie! FIXD 01, 2007, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2008-01-01

Real Time Cover art

Impossible reunions by not-so-spring chickens are now becoming fashionable. This is due in part to both Cream and Van der Graaf Generator taking the live stage the same week for surprisingly inspired performances. These recordings of the first night of the latter band’s revival were highly anticipated, and the classic line-up delivered a not only well-rehearsed but stirring set list, showing skills intact, and of course still angry after these years. Band picks for tracks to perform include most of Godbluff and some songs fans wouldn’t easily expect (“(In the) Black Tower”). Some pieces, such as the faster paced “Killer” and “Darkness” seem fresh as if the quartet has barely had time off since last playing together in 1976. “Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End” makes me want to be sitting in the auditorium to take it all in. Hammill straps on lead and rhythm guitar for much of the gig, adding unison reinforcement for lead vocal on “Lemmings” and ‘Masks”; the former piece comes off as nearly a definitive version in fact. Hugh Banton’s organ has never sounded finer in the mix, both subtle and supportive on pieces such as “Darkness (11/11)” and “Man-Erg”; his feisty solo on “Killer” burns with excitement. The newest material given the live treatment consis of “Nutter Alert” and “Every Bloody Emperor,” which come off well, giving the band some free room to improvise a bit before the singer imparts dagger-tipped lyrics. Reeds man Dave Jackson is spot on across the disc with his boisterous sax persona shaping the aggressive aspect of the band. His flute intros to both “Undercover Man” and “Refugees” add a much needed subtlety to the pieces which had been an important element of the old band psyche. Despite the fact that Hammill wanted Virgin to put out the disc, his own indie label has a done a tremendous job of presenting a strong gig by a still on-going concern despite Jackson’s departure.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Peter Hammill, Van der Graaf Generator, David Jackson

Latest news

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

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Deathwatch Beetle Repairman - Hollow Fishes – Debut albums from obtuse solo acts can be difficult to ascertain on the surface. The first few listens of this disc from the Toronto based artist sound very much like an alternative to some of the...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues