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Van der Graaf Generator

The Bath Forum Concert, 2CD, Blu-Ray & DVD Box Set

Review by Gary Hill

This new box set documents a concert from March 1st, 2022. We get two CDs of audio, but this also includes both a DVD and Blu-Ray of the concert. Van Der Graaf Generator's music is often difficult to pin down, but it is decidedly progressive rock in nature. I have to admit that I'm not always sold on the vocals, but the music wins me over every time. The video is captured in a quality that you'd expect these days. All in all, this is quite a cool release. It should be noted that video discs contain the same track list as the audio ones, just all on one disc versus two.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 3 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Interference Patterns

Killer keyboard work gets this underway. I dig the organ and piano both here. Eventually more of a full prog band arrangement takes over for the entrance of the vocals. This is fast paced, quirky and very effective. It has some great twists and turns and a lot of dynamic range. To some degree comparisons to Emerson Lake and Palmer are valid, but I can make out similarities to such diverse things as Italian prog and Gentle Giant.  This is quite the potent introduction.

Every Bloody Emperor
This also begins with a keyboard section. That holds it for the introduction. It drops way down and the vocals come over a sparse piano arrangement. After a time it builds in a particularly dramatic way. The cut continues to grow into more of a rocking prog motif from there. This feels angry as it builds. The keyboard heavy arrangement later at times flirts with ELP and then Yes. It is powerful and calls to mind something from Close to the Edge at times to me. It eventually drops down again for a return to earlier sections of the track. The cut stays mellower through the end.
A Louse is Not a Home
Piano and vocals get us underway here. It turns more rocking as it continues. It drops back to another mellower motif later. A keyboard jam takes over further down the road. Then we get into a cool ELP like rocking jam. This moves forward by alternating between the mellower and more powered up zones. It's dramatic and rather theatric. The cut is also unique and very unusual. At more than 12-and-a-half minutes of music, this is one of the more epic length pieces.
Another rocking tune, the keyboards lend a lot of magic to this. We're taken through quite a few twists and turns, and this has some smoking hot keyboard work in an instrumental jam. That section also includes some solid performances from all the other instruments.
Childlike Faith in Childhoods End
There is a theatrical approach to a lot of this. The cut is an epic that runs close to 13 minutes. This is quite the ride with a lot of twists and turns taking it along a unique path. There are definitely some ELP like moments in this track.
This track remains mellower than a lot of the rest, with a keyboard and vocal arrangement at its heart.
La Rossa

This is much more of a rocking groove than some of the other music here. There are some twists and turns along the road, though. There is a slower, dropped back movement that gives way to a slow, somewhat bluesy build up. As this gets into more driving prog further down the road there is some killer organ work.

Alfa Berlina
I dig the almost jazzy vibe of this cut. It has an intriguing flow to it. I can make out hints of Procol Harum on this, too. It drops to a weird spacey section that is still rather noisy, but sparse in instrumental terms. This continues to evolve and change from there. It is very much freeform at times.
Over the Hill
Another epic piece (at 12:47), this has some killer twists and turns. There is a dramatic instrumental movement around the four-minute mark that incorporates classical and rock stylings to create something magical. That gets into a rather ELP-like staccato section before evolving into more mainstream progressive rock from there. We get more representations of ELP-like stuff further down the road, along with other different prog rock concepts as it continues.
Room 1210
I really love some of the dramatic and powerful music on this. The cut has a great balance between mellower and more rocking zones. It is packed full of emotion and is so cool. This is one of my favorite pieces here.
Man Erg
Keyboards and vocals bring this into being. It carries through with that basic vibe for a while, but then around the three-minute mark they drive it out into some powerhouse prog rocking sounds. This continues to evolve with more rocking and less as it works forward. This is another with some ELP-like concepts at play.
House With No Door
More of a unique and almost jazz prog based concept is at the heart of some of this. It's another cut that makes me think of Procol Harum in some ways.

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