The Recher Theatre
7th November 1999
The Recher Theatre is in Towson, which is a suburb of Baltimore in Maryland.
I arrived in Towson early on the morning of the gig because I wanted to check out the location and get a ticket. Being a Sunday the entire place was deserted and I vowed to get back to the theatre early in the evening. At some point on my way back to the theatre later that day, I got lost, and subsequently arrived later than I had planned. But it was OK. As I walked up to the theatre a guy asked me if I had bought my ticket because he had a spare. The upshot is that I got in cheap! (thanks Dale).
I walked into the main body of the hall in search of the bar (of which there are two) and imagine my surprise when out of the corner of my eye (well, right in front of me actually) I espied a lady clutching an A4 sheet of paper with a black & white image printed on it, instantly recognisable as the picture that I had posted on my web-site from the 1975 Godbluff tour (shown left) just a week previously. I thought this to be a mite strange and introduced myself. I have to say though that I still don't really know why she had it at that particular moment in that particular place.
Incidentally, I am told that it is entitled "The Band of Millions of Years".
So, I was propped up against a bar with my beer minding my own business when I became aware that there were a group of people next to me who didn't look like typical Hammill fans. At some point a strangely dressed woman appeared who was obviously friends with them because she was all over them, man, woman and dog. Embraces and kisses all round with a sickening lack of genuine affection (seemingly anyway). So I was a little surprised when within 5 minutes she appeared on the stage! Yes, it was Anne Watts who is a Peter Hammill fan. I didn't really pay too much attention to her because I was more interested in getting something to eat and drink before the main act, but she sounded OK.
So to the gig; PH on piano; starts with 'Siren Song', 'Just Good Friends', 'Curtains', 'Shell' and then 'Vision' - A direct hit! This bought a tear to my eye as anything from Fool's Mate would have done (well almost). PH then switched to guitar and they did 'Amnesiac' and 'Shingle'.
At this point PH announced that as this was the last concert they weren't about to make it difficult for themselves and launched into 'The Comet, the Course, The Tail' which was quite different to the album version but nonetheless enjoyable. Of course, all the songs sounded different because he was playing with a violinist. Anyway, there then followed 'Been Alone so Long', 'Last Frame', and 'Primo on the Parapet'.
PH then moved onto the piano and they performed 'Autumn', 'Unrehearsed', 'A Way Out', and ended with 'Still Life'. At this stage I had my fingers crossed and whilst it is one of my favourite songs, I had already heard 'Modern' in NYC, and just wanted to hear 'Refugees'. So the encore was 'Modern' - would they do a second?
After much clapping and foot-stomping they came on again for another encore and PH launched into a story of how Tony Stratton-Smith, the former head of Charisma and Van der Graaf Generator's first manager would come backstage after a gig and with cigar in hand say "great show old boy but you really should have played...........Refugees"! YES!!
So for the second time that evening I fought back the tears (well almost) and what a brilliant conclusion to an amazing series of concerts.
By the way, the concert was filmed, I know not for whom.