Monday, June 22, 2009

Van Der Graaf Generator

Van Der Graaf Generator
Nokia Theatre dressing room, NYC
June 21 '09

It's 33 years since Van Der Graaf Generator last played NYC, so when Peter Hammill played the opening phrase of 'Man-Erg' from their grand opus, 'Pawn Hearts' on his piano, you could just feel the collective consciousness of the crowd exclaim "YES!" Although sax-player Dave Jackson is no longer with them, Peter, drummer Guy Evans and organist Hugh Banton have filled out the sound to become - in Peter's words - "the heaviest band in the world - whose members are seated!" and 'Over The Hill' from last year's exquisite 'Trisector' proved it. The crunching organ riffs, devilish bass-pedal work, subtle time-shifts, yelps, growls and dark poetry all brilliantly anchored by Guy's deft percussive flourishes were brought to bear to the delight of all who, in turn, blessed the band with standing ovations after several songs. This was very much a VDGG crowd and they'd come from all over. I met a fellow who traveled from Springfield, MI ("30 hours by bus, each way") and, while strolling around Times Square with Guy just after soundcheck, he was approached by half a dozen people including a couple who'd seen the group's show at Near Fest in Bethleham, PA just 2 days before and were going to see them again in Chicago next week. Guy told me he's enjoying playing with the band again and that they'd had a great time in Japan last year. As he went off in search of a vegetarian restaurant, I took refuge in the best old-school dive left in the city, Jimmy's Corner, a bar on 44th owned and run by acclaimed boxing trainer and cut-man Jimmy Glen, where I ordered a couple of Jack and cokes and wondered which friend I'd like to be my +1. Fortunately, abstract artist, ex-Girls and current Pothole Skinny guitarist, Mark Dagley picked up after seeing my ID and said "hi Howard, I suppose you're probably in town seeing Van Der Graaf Generator" so that was a good enough greeting for me to offer him the spare! We both had a blast and with any luck, this tour will prove to be enjoyable and successful enough for the band to come back long before another 33 years goes by
Van Der Graaf Generator
Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton
Nokia Theatre, NYC
photo: ht

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