A Wrap

And so another bout of touring, another belt of VdGG activity is done. All of our gear has been returned to us and what of that’s VdGG-specific is now packed away wherever we individually store it. Another fine little run.

For most bands this would be an impossible way of working – prepping for and then undertaking month-long stints and then closing up shop until the next time. For us, it still seems to be an admirable modus operandi. There’s enough time to get really panicky about what’s upcoming, about what we’re expected to do, individually and collectively, and little enough time available so that each show, each day has a special character. We’re not trapped on that conveyor belt of a career (even an indian summer career) in music. After all, it was exactly that feeling of being on the belt, being consigned to The Box, which so unhinged us back in the day. These days there’s no question of it.

Of course, we now have no idea what or when the next little burst of stuff will entail. Traditionally, we’ll meet up in January or so and – over a civilised lunch, naturally – discuss what we might hope for (careful!), what we might dread, whatever might be next. My hunch, at the moment, would be that we’ll aim to do some fresh recording but the how, when and where of that is be a complete unknown at present.

Quite a few people have sent in mails wondering/hoping about the possibilities of future American tours, of both North and South varieties. For various reasons I’m not sure that gigs over there are at all likely in the foreseeable future. As far as the USA is concerned the visa process has become more and more draconian, more and more expensive. (You’ll probably find quite a few people having a go about this out on there on the Wider Web if you take a look….) Even when this hoop has been jumped one’s still faced with the withholding tax question. This is an ongoing problem everywhere. Each country  (including the UK as it happens) now wants to grab whatever slice they can from the gross takings of tours for their own tax chest. In principle, after a long wait and a great deal of crossing and uncrossing of fingers, it’s possible to reclaim a certain percentage of the tax. But this kind of uncertainty sits ill with what is an already uncertain enterprise. Usually one has to commit to a tour before all the “i”s are dotted, filled with the undimmed enthusiasm with which the ongoing musician is all too familiar. It doesn’t always work out and the current tax-claiming regimes make it harder than ever.

In South America (and further afield) our problems in terms of setting up tours might extend to tax questions but principally they’re to do with air freight. To do a show, anywhere, I, personally, could break my equipment down to a guitar, an fx system or two; Brain could take just fx and, probably, cymbals and pedals; our other needs, from amplification to kick drum, could be met by local hire-ins. But HB can’t play on any kind of local pick-up rig. His double keyboard + bass pedals set-up is unique and impossible to replicate…so has to be air freighted wherever we go. And air freight is now starting to have the same kind of price hikes that we’re seeing in passenger fares. Needless to say, there’s big kilo-age in that organ rig.

So…I’m not saying that it’s *impossible* for us to undertake transatlantic jaunts in the immediate future. Certainly I’m not saying that we’re exhibiting reluctance to do so for any reason. But I *am* saying that it’s difficult to see how we might manage it in the current climate. Who knows, though, in the future? I hope that the above isn’t taken as a wave of negativity. We have to be realistic these days and that’s often a neutral position. After all, we’ve paid our dues in terms of wild, unrealistic enthusiasm, leading to shipwreck…back then. I don’t think it does any harm – and I don’t think it’ll come as any surprise – to say that there’s quite a lot of paddling under the water that goes on to create the serene passage of VdGG across its touring schedule. It’s as it is, it’s as it should be.

On a final note of positivity, though, I’d like to thank Ed, Will and Carl, who’ve once again pulled us through in this tour. And particular thanks, as ever, to our agent Andy, who once again managed to produce a routing which made sense, in all senses. It’s not necessarily that easy to do so….and we’re well aware that we’re not the easiest band to book in.

Oh, finally: yes, we recorded most of the shows. Sometimes extreme heat clagged-up hard drives, sometimes electrical glitches ma gled otherwise faultless (ahem) performances. But hours and hours of stuff are now digitally stored. Eventually – almost certainly sooner rather than later, but probably not *too* soon – it’ll fall to one or all of us to go through the “tapes”. Don’t hold your breath, but don’t think that you’ve heard the last, yet, of what were some pretty sparkling and dynamic shows.

Though, as always, I say so myself.

It has been, it continues to be, a joy, a privilege, a pleasure to do this 21st Century VdGG stuff. For now, though, it’s a wrap.




14 Comments on “A Wrap”

  1. I have been a big fan of VdGG since first hearing the superbly strange “Pawn Hearts”, ten years ago, it was like nothing else i’d heard, jarring, intense, portentous, psychedelic, wagnerian and bucket loads more adjectives besides!
    Would there be any chance at all for VdGG (or PH) to endure a trip down under and visit your antipodean admirers for some sing-a-longs and dreamtime??
    Maybe you could charter a merchant steamer and do impromptu gigs on the main deck in the ports of the cities of South America and other continents/archipelagoes while winding your way towards Australia?! No need to use samples for the fog-horn effect in “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers”!
    Ah well, costs not a penny to cast a hope in the dreaming well.

  2. Vittorio Zanetti says:

    The third of july I saw Vdgg in Milan (Trezzo) and I was moved by the concert. I am 22 now and I’ve never listened to something more touching and enlightened. Thank you Mr. Hammill, I owe my vertical growth to you and your Art.

  3. Pierre says:

    I’ve been listening to your (VdGG/pH) songs almost everyday since 1970 and can’t imagine what my life would have been without your spirit & music. Unfortunately could not travel to UK/Italy for these shows including A Plague but will anxiously wait for the CD (not a chance for a DVD ?). One day you’ll be able to present a ‘live’ show in 3D over the Web and all your fans across the world will be able to see it all ‘together’. You’re all 3 *young* enough to imagine that in a not so far future…
    From Québec with love !

  4. Peej says:

    I saw the band at the Manchester gig and it was utterly spellbinding. The freshest I’ve seen them as a 3-piece and they seemed to be having as much fun as the audience. A great set list (I finally got to see them play Gog – brilliant!)
    On the subject of set lists, instead of putting out a live album of one of the complete gigs… how about a compilation of the best versions of the 14 songs played on this tour, maybe one track from each of the 14 venues? Just a thought.
    Have fun, hope to see you guys soon(-ish). Regards, Peej.

  5. Raul Oscar Araya says:

    PH Please, do your best to come to Argentina, and it is unbearable for me ….. waiting, really misses you!.

  6. Colin Robertson says:

    Thanks for the post and the hint of a live album from the tour. I was at the Glasgow show with my son and we were both in raptures at the end. Wonderful night and one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Lighthouse and Flight were brilliant. I have been playing Pawn Hearts since the announcement about Plague and it truly is a masterpiece. Can’t wait for the next tour and the album.

    • Tim says:

      I was also at Glasgow show and thought the sound and performance wonderful, but actual view of the stage was well nigh impssible. From the recordings of other shows I have heard I thought that the glasgow version of Gog was easily the best of the tour, but havent heard a recording of glasgow so may be rose tinted spectacle syndrome

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you all three for three great shows in Bilston, Manchester and London. The gigs were all so dynamic and one of the greatest pleasures is to see the band enjoying themselves so much. When the time comes to glue together a live album I hope that Meurglys III from Manchester makes the grade.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I thought the show at The Robin in Bilston was excellent 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    Great tour, by all accounts. Fabulous setlist. And from the YouTube evidence, I’d say you rose to the challenge.

  10. Yes, I understand, and I am so very sorry that it’s so difficult for VdGG and other artists to come perform in the US. It’s insane. Even worse is what is happening to Pere Ubu, where there legitimacy as an “internationally recognized, world class band” is being questioned in order to obtain visas. Check out their tribulations here on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/official.ubu
    I also had the thought that each continent ought to have their own “Hugh Banton Special Organ”. It would probably be cheaper than shipping at this rate! 🙂 Gutted to miss performances of “Lighthouse Keepers”, but so glad that you are all keeping on.

    • John Edwards says:

      Jimi Hendrix used to keep identical Marshall rigs on different continents… 🙂 Mr Banton would be welcome to store a copy of his setup in my studio in the Netherlands, where it will be nurtured and looked after 🙂

  11. Ken Foster says:

    Thanks for a superb show in Manchester. It was one of the finest gigs i’ve witnessed and it is extremely satisfying that VDGG sound as relevant and fresh as ever.

  12. GlenTheEd says:

    I was at The Barbican and the show was one of the most exciting, dramatic and entertaining as I’ve ever seen in 40 years of attending concerts. My wife, who isn’t a lifelong VdGG or PH fan, loved every minute and is a definite convert.

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