Van der Graaf Generator

Godbluff: Live 1975

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This DVD captures the mighty Van der Graaf Generator at their creative peak, twice! The main course consists of a live performance at the Palais des Expositions in Charleroi, France, on September 27, 1975, where the recently re-formed band presented all four songs from their just released fifth LP, Godbluff, a milestone in their discography. Professionally filmed for French television, the concert consists mostly of close-up shots of singer Peter Hammill and sax player David Jackson, both flooded in red light. Despite the lack of group shots and the rather monochromatic stage lights, this film is fascinating, if only for drummer Guy Evans' unique technique and Hammill's spellbinding stage presence. The repertoire may have been fresh at the time, but the guys still slide in a few surprises and give extra punch to "The Sleepwalkers." The DVD also includes the famous "Belgian TV" sessions from 1971, a 30-minute television special that Classic Rock Productions had previously released on its own under the title Masters from the Vaults, against the band's wishes. This in-the-studio performance was filmed with several cameras, under professional studio lighting, and features additional footage of candles and smoke (so early '70s!). The group performs its instrumental single "Theme One" and the 24-minute "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers." In fact, this was the only time that Van der Graaf Generator performed their epic live. Seeing them pull off all its twists and turns (Hugh Banton displays an uncanny level of virtuosity) is a treat. Since the band was not supposed to perform it (the TV studio forced them to), Hammill keeps a copy of the album's lyrics on his electric piano, just in case. Except for a couple of songs from 1970 (which appear in the DVD Inside Van der Graaf Generator), these two performances are the only known video footage of the band, pre-2005. The video quality (excellent for the 1971 material, very good for the 1975 concert) and sound quality (very good for both) make this DVD an essential document for the group's fans.