Phillips Halle, Düsseldorf, Germany 28th March 1979. Suberb 180-gram triple vinyl gatefold, almost certainly limited to 1000 copies worldwide. Some gigs are simply so good they are meant to be out there - even if they take decades to actually make it into our hands. This is without doubt one of those concerts - it would not be denied. Also available on 2CDs.
A basic stereo recording straight from the front of house mixing desk is always a hit and miss affair. To achieve a good sound in the hall there needs to be a balance between the sound coming from the amps on stage and that coming out of the PA which is controlled from the mixing desk. If there is loads of bass coming direct from the stage then less is needed in the PA mix, and so on. All this means that a stereo recording just coming straight off the desk often has elements of the sound diminished and others overly boosted. It can be a rough listen.
However in Dusseldorf in March 1979 the Steve Hillage Band, the hall acoustics, the iron oxide particles on the mixing desk cassette tape, and a host of other variables aligned to produce a recording of highly pleasing near perfection. It's a marvelous, hither to unheard, addition to Steve's catalogue.
From the first track, after a brief intro, Miquette Giraudy's sequenced synth locks into place, Steve joins in picking out a delicate repetitive guitar motif before the rhythm section opens up with a funky, muscular groove - and we're off. This is a band at the height of it's powers, with Steve in great voice throughout, and most obviously utterly enjoying themselves. The vibe is completely infectious and doesn't let up throughout the entire gig, including the only known live recording of 'Talking to the Sun', the second encore.
Whether arabesqueing through one of Steve's own adventurous compositions or covering a Beatles or Donovan classic all is approached with joie-de-vivre and high sensibility. The trademark heady Hillagesque combination of vibrant psychedelic rock interwoven with an irresistible full blooded groove, interspersed with the smoothest of deep-space synthi/guitar trips gathers all before it in a tsunami of up-lifting music. With the benefit of hindsight Steve's musical trajectory from the creative space riffs of Gong to the trance and techno of System 7 is blindingly obvious. He may trip the light fantastic like a good 'un, but he's always been funky bugger as well.
Had it been unearthed from Steve's archives earlier, this wonderful recording would have had a massive shout for inclusion in the 'Searching For The Spark' Steve Hillage box set. I do hope there are more like this awaiting discovery in the archive - keep it under your hat, but I just think there may be.
- New Age Synthesis Unzipping The Zype Hillage/Giraudy/Anderson/McKenzie
- Hurdy Gurdy Glissando Hillage/Giraudy
- Light in the Sky Hillage/Giraudy
- Unidentified (Flying Being) Hillage/Giraudy/Robertson
- Radio Hillage/Giraudy
- The Dervish Riff Hillage
- Hurdy Gurdy Man Donovan P. Leitch
- Motivation Hillage/Giraudy
- 1988 Akitavator Hillage
- Crystal City Hillage/Giraudy
- Activation Medation Hillage/Giraudy
- The Glorious Om Riff COIT/Hillage
- Meditation of the Dragon Hillage
- It's All Too Much Harrison
- Encore 1 : Electrick Gypsies Hillage/Giraudy
- Encore 2 : Talking to the Sun Hillage/Giraudy
- Steve Hillage guitar, vocals
- Miquette Giraudy synthesizer, vocals
- Andy Anderson drums
- John McKenzie bass, vocals
- Dave Stewart rhythm guitar, glissando guitar, vocals