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Van Der Graaf Generator back in Birmingham

By Leigh Sanders | Entertainment | Published:

Van Der Graaf Generator have returned for 2020 - seven years after their last tour and 50 years since their debut record was released - and will perform in Birmingham.

Van Der Graaf Generator, from left, Peter Hammill, Guy Evans and Hugh Banton

Peter Hammill on vocals, guitar and keyboard, Hugh Banton – organ, bass – and drummer Guy Evans are the three surviving members of the original group formed in 1968 and will appear at the Second City's Symphony Hall on May 5.

That will make the tour actually the 50th anniversary of the 1970 sophomore record The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other (TLWCDIWTEO).

A spokesperson said: "Darker and wilder than most of their contemporaries, VDGG were known for sprawling, dense and complex songs on six albums recorded for the Charisma label between late 1969 and 1976. VDGG’s unique sound was based on organ, sax, driving percussion and declamatory vocals.

"Constantly touring, they achieved their greatest success with the album Pawn Hearts in 1971. After warping into a powerful violin, bass and guitar set-up in 1976, the band finally split in 1978."

Then there was a gap of nearly thirty years, until the 'classic' four-piece line-up reappeared in 2005 with a triumphant reunion concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London and a new recording Present.

In 2006, saxophonist David Jackson left the group. The trio of Hammill, Banton and Evans continued and recorded the albums Trisector (2008) and A Grounding In Numbers (2011). In 2012, VDGG released Alt, a collection of experiments and improvisations. The band's last studio album Do Not Disturb was released in 2016.

The spokesperson continued: "In live performance, as in the studio, VDGG strive to look forward and as much of their repertoire is taken from the new albums as from the old ones. They’ve also made it a point to bring back to life some surprising – and rarely performed – pieces from the past, from the VDGG catalogue and from Peter Hammill’s solo works."

Speaking about the return, Banton said: “It’s time once more to hang up my progressive techie lab-coat and entice the progressive organist back to his seat, stage left. I'm eagerly anticipating exploring the new 2020s-styled sound world of this latest VDGG incarnation.”

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Evans added: “Okay, so the melting drum kit at the last VDGG soundcheck did cue pause for thought. Thankfully both it and your sticksman have re-solidified. I'm so very up for this.”

And Hammill said: “Here we are again, then. Fifty years after the release of TLWCDIWTEO, how exciting – and daunting – it is to once again step out into the glorious chaos of VDGG live performance.”

For tickets to the show, see the venue's website.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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