England - Full Moon 118 - 05/13/06
Peter Hammill (with Stuart Gordon)
Peter Hammill almost says it all himself in his sleeve-notes of this album:
"Over the last decade or so the "folk duo" format - with Stuart 'Hooly' Gordon's unspeakable violin augmenting my own vox, piano, guitar - has been the most common line-up for my solo shows, and with good reaon. Stuart is both an incendiary and a deeply sensitive player and I'm always confident that sparks are going to fly whenever I step onto stage with him. Quite apart from the sheer passion of his playing the range of sounds he coaxes from his beloved violin (Vera) with fat slabs of FX continues to be a source of slack-jawed amazement to me.
I suppose it is well-known that I have an aversion to playing stable, organised, predictable sets and that I only decide on the songs for any given night's performance around an hour or so before it gets under way. Part of the back theory involved in this approach is that I've wanted to introduce newer songs to sink, swim, grow and fly in the live environment, rather than be trapped into any kind of repetitive "hits" syndrome. It's usually pretty clear, pretty early, which new songs cut it. Those gathered together on this CD are some of the recent ones which have passed muster. With exception of "A Way Out" and "Primo On The Parapet" none of them have been presented in live form on disc before now.
As always, these are not intended to be taken as the definitive live performances of these songs. Nor are they remotely "perfect". (You can guarantee, for instance, that I'll always forget some words in concert; that tendency's present and correct here.) For me, the interesting stuff remains the search to get under the skin of each song on a - changing - nightly basis. What's on this CD stands as evidence of some of that search, undertaken with doughty companion. I trust you'll find it true to life."
Peter's stint with the reformed Van der Graaf Generator didn't last very long. They made their live comeback in May 2005 and by mid November it was all over. Expect a stunning double live album from the four agreying men to be released soon. By the start of 2006 it was back to nomal for Peter, i.e. his solo career. Veracious was released a few months ago. It includes recordings from 1999-2004 and really demonstrates the potential of the songs. I'm not all together happy with the production of Hammill's studio albums during the last 8 years or so. They sound a bit too clean and sterile. In a live enviroment it's a different story. Here the songs seem more eh ... alive, in all respects. The man is as dedicated and his voice as strong as ever. The album includes one or two songs from most of his ordinary studio albums for the past 10 years. It starts with "A Better Time", my personal Hammill favourite since the mid 1980s. "Nothing Comes" and "Bubble" also stand out and sound so vital compared to the studio versions. A couple of old chestnuts "Easy To Slip Away" (1973) and "Shingle Song (1975) are thrown in for good measure. Out of time, not out of place. Mr. Hooly Gordon's violin sounds neat and adds a classical touch to some of the quieter songs. In the heavier ones, it almost sounds like an electric guitar treated with several effects. His contrubution to "Nightman" and "Like Veronica" in particular is stunning.
The day before the full moon of May Peter Hammill started a short tour of Germany, France, Belgium and Netherlands with Stuart Gordon. Veracious is the substitute for those of us who don't have the chance to witness the real thing.
Copyright © 2006 JP