Van der Graaf Generator A44A6981 Press photo 2020 Tour Delta PR

Van Der Graaf Generator have announced a series of shows in the UK in May next year culminating in a London show at the Palladium. Tickets go on sale here on Friday morning at 10.00.

It’ll be fifty years since VDGG released their first album The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other on Charisma; the current three-piece line-up, comprising Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, and Hugh Banton – put out Do Not Disturb as recently as 2016. In the interim Hammill has continued to play solo shows; in April last year singing ‘Refugees’, from that first album, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

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Earlier this year a box set based around the pre-Charisma The Aerosol Grey Machine recordings also came out on Esoteric to deserved acclaim. Four star review from RNR magazine below:

The Aerosol Grey Machine: 50th Anniversary Edition

(ESOTERIC RECORDINGS) http://www.cherryred.co.uk

The Aerosol Grey Machine, recorded in summer 1969, was conceived as a Peter Hammill solo record, but released in the USA as a Van Der Graaf Generator album. It only surfaced in the UK on import; Charisma’s release of The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other in February 1970 rightly overshadowed it.

Featuring the classic quartet bar David Jackson; keyboards prominent, no sax, flute from the mysterious Jeff Peach, and bass from Keith Ellis; it’s close to the fully-formed entity. Songs like ‘Octopus’ and ‘Orthenthian Street’ aspire to the rage and glory of the band’s pomp.

At twenty both Hammill’s singing and poetic voices are in place; tone already precise and clear, even when embroiled in a maelstrom of emotion. The melancholic nostalgia which achieved full ripeness in ‘Refugees’ already taken hold; witness ‘Afterwards’ – as striking an opener as ‘Darkness (11/11)’ would be a year later – and ‘Running Back’.

This deluxe make-over comprises two CDs, vinyl album in rediscovered gate-fold sleeve, seven-inch single, and book; the nine tracks of the original album, two out-takes, Peel session from November 1968, and the swiftly-withdrawn Polydor single reimagined. Freshly discovered are two demos from 1967; ‘Firebrand’ and ‘Sunshine’.

Van Der Graaf Generator were always far beyond ‘prog’, emanating intellectual rigour, seriousness and wit. The Aerosol Grey Machine may be the work of a band-in-progress but others would kill to have made such at the height of their powers.