Van der Graaf Generator


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Another in the Classic Rock series of rare video footage restored to DVD, Generator captures an event that has gone down in Van Der Graaf Generator history as one of the most remarkable performances the band ever gave. Arriving at a Belgian television studio, intending to perform just a couple of shorter songs, VDGG was instead requested to give a television premier to "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers," the near 25-minute marathon that consumed one full side of the group's most recent album, Pawn Hearts. It is to their credit that they happily acceded to the request, entering the labyrinthine epic immediately after a brittle (and, thanks to a poor mix, largely disposable) rendition of their latest single, a cover of George Martin's "Theme One." "Lighthouse Keepers," however, is magnificent. On a stage bedecked with flickering candles, with Hammill seated, stooped over a keyboard, the band is electrifying from the outset, the performance capturing all the nuances of the studio version but adding a sparkling electricity that only builds as the performances inches on. A midsong break adds to the tension -- now Hammill is stalking the stage, barefoot with a glass of red wine in hand, alternately barking and pleading his lyrics amid the tumult his bandmates unleashed. Precious little footage of Van Der Graaf Generator exists today, and that which does circulate tends to be very poor quality. Here is the group in glowing, livid color (David Jackson's tailor deserves a medal!), turning in a brutal performance of one of its greatest accomplishments. Indeed, though 30 minutes of music may seem short reward for a full-price DVD, in this instance it more than repays your purchase.