This double CD set captures the band after they had reinvented themselves as a trio following on from the departure of David Jackson. The quartet had reformed in 2004 and recorded ‘Present’, yet after touring a decision was made to part company with Jackson and to instead work as a trio of Hugh Banton (organ), Guy Evans (drums) and Peter Hammill (vocals, guitar, piano). This CD captures them in their tenth show as a three-piece, having yet to release any new material, although they were trialling some music which would be recorded for ‘Trisector’ the following year. This meant the band had to reinvent their music, as apart from debut ‘The Aerosol Grey Machine’, they always had an additional melodic element either with woodwind or strings, but that was no longer the case. Part of this has been countered by Hammill becoming far more aggressive on guitar, and while they have replicated some parts normally played by Jackson, there are others where they have simply restructured the arrangements.
Opener “Lemmings” shows exactly what direction the band is going to take, while “A Place To Survive” is deliciously fractured and dynamic. Hammill, Banton and Evans started playing together in 1968, and more than 40 years later they were determined to prove that the latest iteration of VDGG were not only valid but were continuing to drive their legacy forward. There is plenty of emotion, both on stage and off, with the delicate piano introduction to “Man Erg” being one of the highlights of a tempestuous double CD set. The Paradiso is often used by progressive bands to record concerts as the crowd is always rapturous, and there is great sound quality to be had, and such is the case here. VDGG have continued as a trio to this day, having released four studio albums to date, yet at the beginning they were looking back into the classic catalogue and producing songs in a brand-new way. Essential for any fan of the band.
Kev Rowland 8/10