Gryphon Reunion

First published on MySpace blog - 26/04/11
Flashback to 6th June 2009, and what [has so far] proved to be a ONE-OFF reunion for the great progressive medievalists GRYPHON. - What happened to the 'new' album they spoke of in 2008? - Will there ever be an official release of THIS concert? No one is saying. Anyway, I've posted the clip of "Juniper Suite" before, but the footage of "Dubbel Dutch" has just come to my attention, SO HERE IT IS FOLKS!

By the way, here's what I wrote in m'diaryblog at the time:-

Saturday 6th June 2009 - GRYPHON Reunion Concert, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Like the first album, the Gryphon concert opened with "Kemp's Jig", and it was immediately apparent that, if anything, the chaps are sounding BETTER than they ever did in the seventies. In those days, the PA systems were crap-to-middling and sound engineers were out of their depth trying to balance a bassoon, a recorder or a brace of crumhorns against a bass guitar, a bank of keyboards and other 'electric' instruments. Just listen to their live recordings for the evidence. I saw Gryphon several times during the seventies, in every kind of venue from a folk club to a cathedral to rock auditoria. If memory serves, they never sounded THIS good. I also recall they would stick to the instrumental stuff, possibly for similar reasons. Vocals were never considered their strongpoint:- 'slightly marred by jokey rustic accents', said the NME of the day. Not so tonight.

During this 'First Album' set they played the songs "Sir Gavin Grimbold", "The Astrologer" and "The Unquiet Grave" as well as a version of "Pastime With Good Company" with the (Henry VIII?) words put back in! There was also the gorgeous "Touch & Go" (kudos to Graeme Taylor) and the 'live' world premiere of "Juniper Suite" (as the original recording required a LOT of multitracking, the original quartet could never have pulled it off live). The first set ended with "Estampie" which has been expanded into a suite incorporating OTHER 13th Century dance tunes, as well as Brian Gulland's still amusing bassoon solo.

~Twenty minute interval~

The second set opened with the medley of Susatto(?) renaissance dance tunes forever known simply as "Opening Number". Always a treat. Then, without any need for an introduction, the unmistakable opening chords of "Midnight Mushrumps" which, again, never sounded as good. Magnificent! TEMPESTuous! They received a well deserved standing ovation for what seemed like ages.

Oh no! a Gryphon tune that I don't have in MY collection! Curses! "Ashes" was an outtake from the "Raindance" album and one of the 'previously unreleased' songs that were on "The Collection Vol. 2", a CD compilation long deleted and changing hands online for $50 or more. Curses again! Graeme Taylor's "Dubbel Dutch" and, naturally, "Ethelion" completed the "Midnight Mushrumps" segment of the show.
Perhaps due to public demand (if their MySpace is anything to go by!), they encored with some selections from "Red Queen To Gryphon Three", arranged by Brian and Graeme into a 'suite of all the good bits'. It was suggested that everyone who had ever bought that album were probably in the room! Certainly, a number of people had travelled from afar to be here, including the inevitable Italian contingent (honestly, those Italians and their prog rock...)

Then, just for fun and for charity (Water Aid), the chaps vamped on "Le Cambrioleur Est Dans Le Mouchoir" for as long as it took for the hirsute Mr Brian Gulland to have his beard shaved off. Some might recall the occasion when, on some 1980s telethon or other, he had his entire head shaved as well. See concert programme for photographic evidence.

The concert had started with the original quartet of Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, David Oberlé and Graeme Taylor playing "Kemp's Jig". It was only fitting that the evening should finish with it as well, this time with the full six-piece, with the addition of bass player Jon Davie (who had been in the final lineup of Gryphon before ending up in Home Service with Graeme Taylor) and multi-multi-instrumentalist Graham Preskett (his 'day job' is in film and TV music), whose fiddle playing added a new dimension to the Gryphon sound.

A fantastic evening then, historic even. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. All the earlier shenanigans with the South Bank ticket office, not to mention the frankly extortionate rail fare, were totally worth it. I trust that Gryphon's select group of MySpace friends and the vociferous (and, let's face it, mainly Italian) prog-rock fanbase will persuade them to do some more. Perhaps play "Red Queen To Gryphon Three" in its entirety for the first time, eh? Just a thought...

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