Southampton The Brook - 25 Nov 2000

A review by Marc Harry (26 Nov 2000) - reproduced from the now defunct 'youngjohn' site

Wow! Where's this band been all my life?

I have one LP by Dave Greenslade in my over-stuffed collection (The Cosmology of the Pentateuch) - and I don't think it's hit the turntable once in the last 17 years - probably not many times when I first bought it either - it's not a record I'd claim to know at all despite the wonderful packaging - yet hearing the band live tonight I discovered they play exactly MY type of music.  A band that performs without a guitarist and replaces him with another keyboard player – great idea!  (Excuse me while I duck under the flames and vitriol heading my way from raging, rabid guitarists !  I’m only HALF-serious, guys!)

An ‘intimate’ crowd of only about 100 gathered in The Brook, Southampton and waited till past 10.15 p.m. for the band to take the stage.  I'd already sat through a ‘choir’ concert earlier in the evening and I was starting to feel tired. Yet from the opening few bars it was clearly going to be a night to remember !   It was nice to be able to chat with John before the gig – apparently Mr. Wetton was hoping to be there but I didn’t see him so I presume he wasn’t.  We also swapped notes on some of our favourite bands:  Yes, UK etc.  Oh, and I learned a thing or two about Eddie Jobson…

And so to the band… From the first few notes it was clear that this was going to be good!  Layers and layers of keyboards from Dave and John, clear, booming, expert and inventive bass playing from long-term Greenslade sidekick Tony Reeves, solid and just-showy enough drumming (on an excellent Gretsch kit) - particular praise from this listener for the cymbal work of John Trotter. 

Dave Greenslade is obviously a very experienced, confident, competent and creative keyboard player - the patches he chose were very defined - nothing got lost in the mix yet none of the sounds were so cutting they sounded tinny (a fault many have fallen into in this digital age...*)

And...of course...we had JY on top of it all sounding as though he'd fronted bands as lead singer for years -  if there were any nerves, John, they didn't show - and despite having to concentrate on all those lyrics as well as cryptically complex chord sequences and mind-bending time signatures he found the opportunity to show that he really is a closet 'twiddly progger' despite his protestations to the contrary :o). The five minute solo in the penultimate song was a real cracker (how d'ya persuade Dave to let you nick such a share of the limelight?) 

The set included old Greenslade favourites like ‘Joie de Vivre’, ‘Bedside Manners Are Extra’ and ‘What’s Your Poison?’ as well as several pieces from the new release ‘Large Afternoon’.  ‘What’s Your Poison?’ is a real prog rock treat – very ‘Lamb Lies Down’ Genesis in style and feel and the big sound which filled The Brook from this piece, along with John’s very comfortable lead vocal, did the grandeur of this song great justice.

There were relatively few words in-between the songs but here are a few I recall.  Apart from the band being introduced (John, I bet it felt good to be introduced by Dave as “‘keyboardist extraordinaire’ John Young”).  Credit was given to the ‘missing’ Dave Lawson, provider of lyrics for many of the songs who was unable to tour due to other work commitments.  John tried to relate the lyrics of ‘Feathered Friends’ to the breakdown of talks on world ecology earlier in the day but few in the audience seemed to make the connection…and John asked who’d been there for the last Greenslade gig 25 years ago and for any that were to stand down the front and act as prompts.  Amazingly I spotted a few people who seemed to know every word.

A very enjoyable evening, then, and the upshot is that I now have to increase my overdraft yet again to play ‘catch up’ on the Greenslade back catalogue (for those albums must be worth a place on any prog rock fan's shelf) - lucky for me has quite a number available for just £7.99 each. Dear Santa...

Seriously - if you get the chance to see the show and you're into good keyboard playing and 'classic' sounds - see this tour !

Marc Harry

(*  Interesting footnote.  Having made this observation during the gig it was a little bit of a let-down to hear on the CD just some of those somewhat naff, digital, tinny sounds – particularly the keyboard/saxophone sample which occurs a few times on the recording.  For some reason, many keyboard players seem reluctant to revisit older technology in the studio:  Moogs, PolyMoogs, even newer analogue instruments like the Roland D10 get used on stage occasionally but are passed over in the studio (could lack of MIDI on some of them be the problem?)  I say, bring out of the closet those Korg monosynths and Yammie CS5s.  It’s just that having heard such good ‘live’ sounds the difference on the CD hit me as obvious.  Every critic has to have a moan somewhere, don’t they?)

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