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Van Der Graaf Generator - Real Time CD (album) cover

REAL TIME

Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 132 ratings

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Ricochet
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Get ready for the show you've waited for your whole life", could be said. It was an uplifting spectacle for everyone who attended; it remains an "audio adventure" for everyone listening to their CD copy. And either way, it's all about the music. Part of the euphoria, otherwise, has to do with one moment, in which the over-progressive rockers from Van der Graaf Generator reunited after 27 desperate years of nothingness, of individual careers, of different million other things (and, I can bet, 27 years of lost or forgotten hope for "us all"). Present, the reunion album, is courageouslyexcellent, sounding exactly like the "hard- 'n' hot-burning rejoice" of a bloody brilliant classic prog band. A bit more square-ish, but not overcome by imperfections or dour faults is the release of this live performance, that's part of the same contemporary period and promotes the same euphoria: Van der Graaf, once more on stage. On one hand, Real Time is just a glimpse (the coolest glimpse, probably: live at Royal Albert Hall, in the heart of home London) from a "relaunching tour", but more importantly, it's a third live release in this band's whole official and imposing discography, good enough to overheat expectations. It couldn't have been a better time to watch this reunion finally take place and to hear the classic, pure vintage music in a giant achieve of a new recital.

By the time Real Time was done & delivered, another euphoric news was circling, about Van der Graaf preparing another new studio album (now we know what it's all about: 2008's Trisector). So Real Time programmed individually, was just a second surprise within a jubilating, up-to-date, new phase for the band.

Details. Royal Festival Hall is either a supremely ambitious location or a place where a skeptical performance can happen. You can either win or goof in such a high place. Van der Graaf chose carefully to succeed in doing the first thing, raising by their performance enough exclamations and even more opinions that regard their abilities, their professionalism, their pathos, their resurfaced taste for art - the Van der Graaf way. The show has suspense, eclecticism, being in the same time a more than slightly laid-back interpretation, la pulp prog custered with different flavors. Months before the moment of this rather formal concert, there was nostalgia and amazement within the fans, who in the end filled every seat to witness a noble and trademarked band do wonders; an audience which, furthermore, was able to understand what progressive means in this situation. Upon asking without hesitation certain pieces from the band's "old-clocked" albums or broking ecstatically upon the start of every piece, Hammill even addressed to them ironically "I don't think we need to tell you the name of the pieces, no?". To such an open performance, the only opposite detail comes to be the tight-locked shelter of the Royal Albert Hall location.

Music. Two exceeded hours of concert can really shake you deeply regarding how profound, sincere, competent (in a sense of "resistance") and imaginative the band played its big share. Each piece is a reminder of old times, it sweats of symbolic emotions. But an original sound adds up to how music, instrumentality and the lyrics are approached, making the difference. In such a way, my prominent idea over Real Time is that it is a third live album by a timeless or at least slow in burning out Van der Graaf Generator. Without comparing (even close?) to the godly burn of Godbluff, or the raw, slight wounding crisp of Vital, this concert still fills dozen of minutes with ampleness, stylish power and strong expressions. So that, from wishing at first the band would actually pull off the show and try their best as far as playing the stunning classic music after 30 years, you actually admire how great everything sounds. The "Godbluff" repertoire is recreated the most, the only thing missing being Arrow: the other three pieces are played in a monodic, tight-fittingly gasping, respectively abrazive way. From Present the band plays two small "caprices", basically profound and adventurous. Sure, no foul play happening, as the band doesn't go into extreme thinking - more precisely, into the "improvs" of that double-profiled album. The far point of the recollection is when Refugees and Darkness 11/11 are invoked, these being, in principle, two pieces that blow your mind. The first is excellent and fine, while the second rings of a modern and ,mordent' taste. In contrast, given a choice from an album that's less preferred (World Record), the result is unexpectedly a bit more deceiving. Masks is a sudden cornerstone, having an interpretative coldness, feeling wrongly homogenous; and Wondering, let's be honest, is sadly a charmless encore. Mentionable is the revelation In The Black Moon, and I truly feel sorry to only find words like "special" and "superb" to describe it. It's a refined choice. The whole spectacle is from the start announced as both stylish and strictly scheduled; therefore, it is in vain that one person asks for Necromancer. But in comes the happy treat after all, as the band indulges two encores, out of which Killer is breathtaking. Personally, the first CD of Real Time, make that the first part of the show, up until Nutter Alert is impeccable.. After that, some relaxations, curiosities or pure slips do happen. The value of improvising rather than playing by the old sheet is quantified more in pieces such as Man-Erg and Childhood's End.

The band. Quite the essential element of Real Time, despite of the music (because, mark my words, the audience came that day to see Van der Graaf, while you'll be wanting to hear Van der Graaf) and totally uncompromised in everything they do. During small moments of hesitation, relaxation and imperfections, the effort still counts. Overall, how they play is amazing, even if we'd have to mention technical flaws, strangely sounding improvisations and such. The band itself sounds purified by its own performance, as much as the music is cleaned from its dust and put in a new, incredible shape of things.

Outstandingly achieved.

Ricochet | 5/5 |

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