Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why every music fan should be going to see Peter Hammill at the Soiled Dove on Friday.

Peter Hammill was in Van Der Graaf Generator. Actually, he was the founder and leader of the group, who have stayed together with little change in personnel or intensity, for 40 years. OK, they broke up and regrouped 3 or 4 times in that period. OK, OK, they didn't play together for at least 25 years, but still, Peter has never stopped in that time, and Van Der Graaf are still playing the occasional show, recording the occasional LP. With rare ferocity.

Van Der Graaf Generator are the coolest “File under: progressive rock” group in the world, ever. In the 70s they recorded a series of albums so intense and uncompromising that they are forever cited as a major influence on everyone from David Bowie to Nurse With Wound, Nick Cave to John Lydon. VDGG were a sonic terror cult that despite being huge in Italy, never sold out, never went gold and never mellowed with age.

Hammill is a total genius.

Peter Hammill is not dead. He is alive, having recovered from a recent heart attack. Perhaps if he were not alive you'd be sorry, wishing you'd have seen the great man while he was still with us. Well, he is with us and he's come all the way from England to see you and the least you can do is show up.

In 1974, Peter Hammill made a proto-punk album called Nadir's Big Chance. The artwork, the liner notes (which include the word “punk”) and the attitude are all an uncanny sign of things to come.

Peter Hammill is the most confrontational artist in rock history. He probably never cut himself with a bottle or even sworn at an audience, but for 40 years he has gone on stage and sang the most personal, beautiful, insane and terrifying music imaginable without ever even considering toning it down or being appropriate. Peter Hammill is the ultimate my-way maverick, and has been rewarded with god-like status among a few, knowing music fans.

Buy Van Der Graaf's Pawn Hearts. Buy Silent Corner and the Empty Stage. Go and see Peter Hammill this Friday at the Soiled Dove. I'll see you there.

Peter Hammill at the Soiled Dove - get tickets here

- Ben Sumner

1 comment:

Tom said...

Think you summed the man and his music pretty well here.