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Big Big Train - Stone & Steel CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.61 | 37 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars I consider the 2009+ incarnation of Big Big Train to be one of the best and most classy prog bands to have come up from Britain in the recent years, but the fact that they did not have any live video was a bit of a let down, I wanted to see these guys playing their great music. Actually Big Big Train was a studio-only project, they had never played live since 1998. Not only that, this incarnation (with Dave Gregory on guitars, David Longdon on vocals and flute and Nick D'Virgilio on drums) had never played together, the different members exchanged music files and recorded their parts separately in the studio, but the whole band had never played physically together. But possibly the huge success of their 2009 album The Underfall Yard made them consider playing live again.

So in mid 2014 they hired the Real World studios of Peter Gabriel for a week to rehearse and try real live playing, with the intention that if it all went alright they would offer a few live concerts. They engaged the now-full-time- members Danny Manners for additional keyboards and double bass, Rachel Hall for violin and backing vocals, and Rikard Sj÷blom of Beardfish for guitars, keyboards and backing vocals. Plus a brass quintet for some of the songs. They recorded the experience on video and after the positive result, one year later in August 2015 they offered 3 concerts at Kings Place in London which quickly sold out.

This Blu-Ray release (also available as streaming or download in Vimeo) documents both scenarios, with 9 songs filmed when playing live in the studio plus 4 songs from the Kings Place concerts. The studio takes are great and give us 2 hours of delight, we get to see the band setting up and a few chats among the members in between songs. The setlist is impressive, with my favourite highlights being "Master James of St George", "Judas Unrepentant", the 23 minute suite "The Underfall Yard" and "Victorian Brickwork". Although the rest of tracks are also strong, we get "The First Rebreather", "Kingmaker", "Uncle Jack", "Summoned by Bells", and perhaps the surprise track is an acoustic version of "Wind Distorted Pioneers" from their 1994 debut album, here with just Danny Manners on the grand piano and Rachel Hall on violin and the rest of the band members doing backing vocals.

The 4 live tracks from the Kings Place concerts deliver almost another 1 hour of pleasure, "Wassail", "Curator of Butterflies", we get a repeat of "Victorian Brickwork" and finally "East Coast Racer". The filming quality is very good and although the band may not be one the most lively on stage the music is so good that it makes for a very enjoyable watching.

But for those wanting to watch the entire Kings Place concerts, they are also available for streaming or downloading on Vimeo in 2 parts, "Act One" and "Act Two", in total around 2 hours with the complete setlist being: Act One: "Make Some Noise", "The First Rebreather", "The Underfall Yard", "Uncle Jack", "Victorian Brickwork" and Act Two: "Wassail", "Summoned by Bells", "Drum Solo / Judas Unrepentant", "Curator of Butterflies" and "East Coast Racer".

A must for any Big Big Train fan and one of the releases I have enjoyed the most in the last couple of years.

Gerinski | 5/5 |


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