The Killer Lives
Live Brescia Italy, May 21 1972. Ex SBD.


The first thing to bear in mind is, if this is a soundboard recording, the guy at the desk has a lot to answer for. But this document of the second night of Van Der Graaf's second Italian tour is essential listening regardless, the sound of the band both attaining the peak of its musical powers, and approaching the peak of the internal tensions that would tear them apart within a matter of months.

Set to a backdrop of a semi-delirious audience, the set itself is a dynamic rendering of the band's settled in concert repertoire, highlighting favorites from the last three albums - "White Hammer," "Darkness," "Lemming," "Lost," and so forth - but wrapping up around a monstrous excursion through their debut's most lasting monuments, "Octopus" and "Aquarian." "Octopus," of course, had been revisited during the sessions for the band's last album, Pawn Hearts, and while the recording was ultimately dropped from the LP, the rearrangement remained on the band's mind. Meanwhile, a snatch of "Theme One" adds a delirious edge to the medley, while "Aquarian" can rarely have sounded so impassioned.

The Brescia gig ends there; the CD, however, continues on with a live-in-the-studio rendering of "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers." The packaging credits the performance to "London, 1970"; in fact, it's the oft-circulated Belgian TV version, from March 1972. - Dave Thompson

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