GRYPHON

Prog - - Take A Bow - MAL­COLM DOME

VENUE UNION CHAPEL, LON­DON

DATE 14/09/2018

“So who’s play­ing here tonight?” “it’s a band called Gryphon.”

“what do they sound like?”

“They’re folky, proggy, rocky… ev­ery­thing!”

This is an ac­tual chat be­tween a vaguely in­ter­ested passer‑by and a se­cu­rity bloke on the door at the

Union Chapel tonight. and it sums up the Gryphon co­nun­drum. Just what do they sound like? The best de­scrip­tion is 16th‑cen­tury mu­sic, laced with Vaudevil­lian hu­mour, wrapped in a pack­age that’s as­ton­ish­ingly ap­po­site for con­tem­po­rary au­di­ences.

Tonight, the ven­er­a­ble bards play two sets. The first be­gins with Kemp’s Jig, and im­me­di­ately the coloured trousers be­ing worn by the bare­foot Brian Gul­land catch Prog’s at­ten­tion: he looks like a psy­che­delic Catwea­zle. He and andy Fin­don spend the night dart­ing be­tween a blur of wind in­stru­ments, with the fa­bled crumhorn to the fore.

Much of both sets comes from new al­bum rein­ven­tion, and all of the band mem­bers, ex­cept new bas­sist rob levy, take it in turns to in­tro­duce each song. Just how re­laxed ev­ery­body is on­stage can be seen by the good‑na­tured rib­bing that goes on through­out the set: at times, it feels like we’re look­ing in on a re­hearsal.

On­stage, Gra­ham Pres­kett butts in to tell us, “i was told i could only talk for 12 sec­onds, while the rest of these guys are talk­ing for two min­utes at a time!” to which Gul­land re­sponds,

“last time we played here two years ago, i ap­par­ently spent six‑and‑a‑half min­utes talk­ing about one song. i got told off by the rest of the band, so i’m keep­ing it a lot shorter tonight!”

Of the new tracks per­formed in the first set, rhubarb Crumhorn and Sailor V (“The sort of clever play on words we love do­ing,” quips Gul­land) in par­tic­u­lar catch the at­ten­tion, but it’s the much older

The as­trologer which is the high point, fea­tur­ing a lyri­cal con­ver­sa­tion be­tween per­cus­sion­ist dave Oberlé and Gul­land, the lat­ter wear­ing a hat that would make arthur Brown proud.

The sec­ond set fol­lows the same pat­tern as the first, with new ma­te­rial such as Had­dock’s eyes – where Oberlé plays the role of an old man: “in this band i am ei­ther a young girl [ref­er­enc­ing The as­trologer] or an old man!” – as the ful­crum, while there’s a bril­liant med­ley from the red Queen To Gryphon Three al­bum. This is eas­ily the high point of the night as it show­cases what many re­gard as the band’s finest work. it would have been won­der­ful to hear tracks from red Queen… in their full state, but time con­straints won’t al­low for this.

it all fin­ishes with es­tampie, which builds to a charis­mat­i­cally fren­zied vir­tu­oso crescendo, with Gul­land and Fin­don reach­ing hy­per­speed. who needs shred­ding gui­tarists when you’ve got the wood­wind and vi­o­lins go­ing crazy?

Folk­ing bril­liant – the best way to sum up the night.

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