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Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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Big Big Train Empire album cover
4.38 | 31 ratings | 1 reviews | 68% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Novum Organum (2:27)
2. Alive (4:37)
3. Hedgerow (9:00)
4. Theodora in Green and Gold (5:30)
5. Winkie (8:29)
6. The Florentine (8:16)
7. Brave Captain (12:39)
8. Voyager (13:52)
9. Homesong (4:42)
10. Wassail (7:57)
11. Engines and Men (4:02)
12. East Coast Racer (17:23)

Total Time 98:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Greg Spawton / guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals
- David Longdon / vocals, flute, keyboards, guitar
- Rikard Sj÷blom / vocals, keyboards, guitar
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums, vocals
- Dave Gregory / guitar
- Rachel Hall / violin
- Danny Manners / keyboards, bass

Releases information

Recorded live at the Hackney Empire on November 2, 2019

Label: Belle Antique
Format: CD/Blu-ray, Digital
November 27, 2020

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BIG BIG TRAIN Empire ratings distribution

(31 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(68%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (6%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BIG BIG TRAIN Empire reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lazland
4 stars And so to my annual birthday live DVD present, this time the Big Big Train Empire set recorded at London's Hackney Empire in November 2019, a tour I sadly missed, and it is even more of a regret now that violinist and vocalist Rachel Hall, guitarist Dave Gregory, and keyboardist Danny Manners have left the band, and it will be intriguing to see how well the remainder of the band replace those three, because they really have all been essential contributors to the sound and vision since joining. Gregory, especially, plays some delicious riffs and licks throughout.

This live set, which I purchased on Blu Ray and double cd, will, therefore, go down in history as the definitive record of this particular lineup as a live ensemble. Here I should also mention the mighty fine brass musicians who provide so much texture and emotion to the music being played.

The set mainly concentrates on later BBT, as might be expected from a tour promoting Grand Tour, and what it really highlights for me is just how well they fuse the more pastoral, folk music with the full on symphonic stuff altogether seamlessly, and live this is an especially impressive feat given that until fairly recently they were a studio only outfit.

There are many highlights. Following a delightful intro, two of my favourite shorter Train tracks are performed with gusto. Alive really does make you feel alive, and is a track guaranteed to cheer one up, much needed in these extraordinary times.

Hall's solo vocals at the denouement naming the animals of the Hedgerow are utterly delightful, and this is a fine rendition of one of my favourite modern folk prog tracks.

Winkie, a track dedicated to and about a hen which saved the lives of a WWII bomber crew, was not one of my favourites from Folklore. I found it bitty and forced together in parts, but live it really comes into its own.

David Longdon, a vocalist I have admired ever since I heard him perform on Martin Orford's seminal The Old Road, is fine throughout, and demonstrates his Gabrielesque tendencies by wearing the pagan mask in a barnstorming rendition of Wassail. Talking of vocals, though, you really cannot be anything but impressed by the pipes demonstrated by probably the finest drummer in modern prog, Nick D'Virgilio, when he performs a duet with Longdon on The Florentine, a wonderful piece of thoughtful music about Da Vinci.

As fine as the set is, all else, though, leads up to a magnificent performance of a seminal BBT track, namely East Coast Racer. It fair takes your breath away, especially as the brass section adds to a massive wall of sound in the closing passage. This track is worth the entrance money alone.

All in all, this is a fine live recording from a band who are rightly revered in the world of modern progressive rock. Four stars, and highly recommended.

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