Out of My Book.....

Van der Graaf Generator/Hammill gigs attended

Ou sont les nieges d'hier? Here is the best I can do in reconstructing gigs attended. Major source (apart from the old furniture in the Black Room) is Fred's Stereophonic Smack, and , as always, the Pawn Hearts list. Idea of doing this nicked off Phil Smart, BTW. Photos by me, except the colour one (which I just retouched).

VdGG 28/8/71 Weeley Festival. Thirty Five Years ago!! Ho Hum. Actually I don't remember much of the show, I was more interested in my girlfriend at the time, but the noise which penetrated into my brain was sufficiently interesting that I bought Least We Can Do shortly after. And was hooked.

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VdGG Jan. 22 1972 Central London Polytechnic. A great concert. At one stage, during Darkness, the keys started to fall off Hugh's organ. Hammill suggested that we "reedit our tape" of the evening, but clearly I did not. They encored with Octopus which Hammill claimed was a nice way to finish. Strange. Saw this in the company of Andrew (who now runs the country) and Simon. A fitting start to a weird and wonderful night...

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PH 19/9/73 Commonwelth Inst, London. Good I think, but I don't remember that much. Saw with Tina,Dave Elaine and a blind person whose name has gone...He really liked it. It was around this time that I formulated the theory that Hammill's eyesight wasn't very good, and that explained all his music. A theory since triumphantly vindicated (or not).


PH 7/9/74 Wigmore Hall. Great concert, lots of solo versions of band stuff, including Louse. Ended up with Refugees, almost too good to be true.

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VdGG minus Evans 27/11/74 Commonwelth Inst, London. The real reformation concert? Hammill, Banton and Jaxon were having a great time (as were Tina, Dave, Elaine and me). Hugh wore a long scarf, and Hammill dedicated "Been Alone So Long" to him. Amazing how you remember this stuff!


VdGG 27th July 1975; Victoria Palace, London.
This was the first major concert after the band re-formed. Saw this with my sister Tina. The night before we had seen Richard Thompson play the greatest guitar solo of all time, on Calgary Cross, at the Cambridge Folk Festival. The tape (I only had one) was overwritten to record this concert, and proves that it was one of the very finest of the second generation era. They encore with Urban and Pilgrims, a fact omitted in Fred's book. I would love to have that tape of the Thompson solo though....

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VdGG 30th August 1975; New Victoria Theatre, London. Phil says "They weren't as good as the first time". I have to agree. They ended superbly however, culminating in an awesome Pilgrims. Went with my Mum!

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VdGG 14th October 1975; Imperial College London. The best VdGG performance I ever saw. They played on a stage, with scenery stacked along the back. As the concert progressed Hammill became increasingly demented, pacing up and down among the props, shaking his fists, only emerging to sing... they encored with Louse and Urban. A wonderful, perfect concert.

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VdGG 17 Oct 75. Cambridge Corn Exchange. The worst VdGG concert I ever saw. They were crap, and got worse, and so did the audience. Except us of course..saw this with Andrew, Jamie, and Elaine. Had a tape for a while, but erased it. No great loss.

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VdGG 18/12/75 Hemel Hemstead Pavilion. With Tina, Dave and Elaine. Not bad,considering the venue. My lasting memory is of some poor soul who kept his head inside one of the speaker horns for the whole concert. No-one tried to stop him. Hemel Heampstead is a bit like that.

VdGG 6 May 1975; Birmingham Wonderland, with Tina and Dave and Steve!. Again not bad. Someone left their tape recorder on the front of the stage. You can see it on some of the pics. As Peter sang "Hers forever, Hers forever..." the tape ran out. Everyone heard it on the PA. Peter stood and watched as the taper ran up to the recorder and switched the tape, before finishing "in Still Life". A great moment! Maybe that's why he doesn't like bootlegs!


VdGG 2 Nov 1975 Manchester, with Elaine, Nick and some others. Don't remember much of this....sorry!

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VdGG 7/9/76 QEH London. With Tina, Dave and Elaine. I was very dissillusioned with this concert. I remember thinking the new material was repeditive and uninspired. The band seemed to be in the middle of a major row. I was equally dissapointed with World Record. I remember someone inFreds's fanzine saying that for her this was the first VdGG album which was not perfect. I concur. Last time I saw them.


VdG Feb. 20, 1977 - Chalk Farm Roundhouse, London. Their First Gig! and I forgot I was there! Not bad actually, especially at first, but they ran out of steam. Tina and Dave, I think.


VdG 7/11/77 Birmingham Town Hall. Used to be one of the commonest tapes. Can't think why. They were noisy (not a bad thing) and uncoordinated (which is, esp for a band with Hammill in it). At the end, after the guitar/drum duel in Door, Evans took a polaroid of the audience (Last Frame). Maybe he did that every performance, but once was enough for me.

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1/10/78 PH, Jaxon, G Smith Rainbow London. This concert restored my faith. The ambition is diminished, but a great performance of great songs. I see the Japs have just bootlegged this. I wonder if my memory is correct!?

28/3/83 Colston Hall, Bristol PH + John Ellis ( Witnesses by Me and Elaine). Supporting Marillion. The Marillion fans hated Hammill, and were moved to open derision during the "I can't live under water" bit of Modern. But actually a pretty good concert.

26/10/83 K Group at LSE. An outstanding gig, somehow lost on "The Margin". The highlight was Guy's drum entry on Sphinx.

26/7/84 Bloomsbury Theatre Stunning "The Lie"

12/12/84 Sadlers Wells First Performance of "This Book". For me the highlight of the evening.

QEH 24/4/86 Six piece

11/86 Bloomsbury Ended with a fine " Sleep Now"

RFH 25/2/90

QEH 15/11/91 First Usher performance. Actually a fairly unusual occasion altogether. Bad memory... PH was about to explain why he was playing Darkness. Some imbecile shouted out an inane request, and we never found out. The atmosphere was unremittingly dark throughout.

25/4/92 Bristol Great Georges. A bad time for me, and a very depressing concert.

29/4/93 Clapham Grand The Noise. OK I suppose. You heard the record!

22/7/94 with Kronos Quartet at the Barbican. PH on "The Music of Eric Zahn". A treasured tape; PH narrates an HP Lovecraft horror story. Needless to say he was superb...

29/5/94 Bath Hub Five Piece, but no Nic Potter! I really enjoyed this, but the tape suggests it was actually crap.

QEH 26/11/94 With Quartet. Boring choice of material for the first half, but an excellent "Ahead".

2001 Norwich. I hadn't realised how long since I saw him last. Excellent, intimate concert.

15.06.2002 Lyric Theatre Hammersmith Enjoyed this. Although strangely I have no recollection of most of the songs...of my

8.10.2004 QEH Missed the beginning due to the activity(or rather inactivity) of the mafia on Naples airport.

2005 RFH With Tina and Elaine. Due to Tina's eagle eyd observation, we got seats at the front of the choir. Perfect seats. Perfect concert. I don't think I ever remember such mass happiness as when the band came on stage. A crescendo of brilliance building up to a sublime Darkness. Just wonderful. Wish Virgin would hurry up and put out the Banton remix!