Van der Graaf Generator don't want to bore their audience and especially themselves. That's why the last tour of the British progunicates came up with a program the band had never presented before - peppered with the most elaborate rock epics of their career. This spectacular approach is documented on her latest live album "Merlin Atmos: Live Performances 2013".
Since their reunion about ten years ago Van der Graaf Generator have always released a live album after each studio release. What distinguishes "Merlin Atmos" from the previous tour recordings is the concept of the 25 concerts that the band played in North America and Europe in 2012/13: they mainly included long, complex pieces - with "Flight" also one from Peter Hammill's solo repertoire - in their program. eclipsed spoke with the three musicians about this extraordinary concert tour.
eclipsed: How did you come to the decision to play so many of your long, complex compositions on the last tour?
Peter Hammill: We are always anxious not to repeat ourselves. When we planned the concerts in North America for 2012, we tried to choose a new approach. It consisted first of all of playing my solo piece "Flight" from 1980, which is about 20 minutes long and certainly nobody would have expected in our set. There were band performances with my K-Group at the beginning of the 80s, but that was it.
Guy Evans: And then we thought to ourselves, when we do "Flight", we can also try "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers", a song we hadn't played since 1972.
Hugh Banton: We had given up "Plague" at the time because it was simply not reproducible with the technology of the time, at least not for me. Now I have all the possible buttons I can press to generate the necessary sounds and effects.
eclipsed: Did you just get a feeling of nostalgia with this very old piece?
Banton: No, because we created something completely new. The studio version on "Pawn Hearts" was pieced together from fragments, we hadn't recorded the song as a whole and had played only rarely at that time. For my part, I just look forward and don't reminisce.