The third album in the Curved Air Rarities Series finds the band headlining the second British Rock Meeting at Germersheim in Germany on 22ndMay 1973. What is of real interest to many fans will be the sheer panic which set in when the band realise that for some reason the guitar isn’t working. The band start playing a blues as they put themselves into a holding pattern instead of opening with their normal “It Happened Today” while they tried to resolve the issue, and we can hear Sonja say “what shall we do?”. This means the set we have is quite different to the norm, with the band improvising when they need to, and close with a 32-minute jam, which also incorporates some of “Vivaldi”.
My favorite is the simplicity in all the chaos, as the band gently work through “Melinda (More Or Less)”. This has always been one of my favorite numbers by the band, and with just gentle acoustic guitar and sympathetic bass, Sonja’ vocals are incredibly powerful. The reverb coming through the microphone is the only treatment she needs on her voice and puts all of today’s auto-tune singers to shame. The sound throughout is very good indeed, thanks to Armed Forces DJ Paul McGowan who had been allowed to record the whole festival, and the booklet contains essays from both Paul and Christoph Wagner along with an introduction from Francis Monkman. These, along with the photos and of course the wonderful music, capture a band at the height of their powers (this was not long after the ‘Phantasmagoria’ album). Due to the issues on the night, it isn’t a perfect set in some ways, while in others it shows a band on the edge, relying on intuition and musicianship to get through.
7/10 Kev RowlandCURVED AIR