Big Big Train are a band as English as dry stone walling, cider presses and mumbled apologies, and so Peter Gabriel’s tranquil Real World retreat was the perfect location for them to figure out if they could bring their music to the stage. This DVD documents the process as the band – some of whom had never met before – got to grips with the music, and with each other.
“If we fail miserably,” said guitarist Dave Gregory, “we’ll have had fun trying.” He needn’t have worried. After keyboardist Danny Manners gives us a tour of the premises, it’s down to the business of rehearsal, and it’s very, very good indeed. Victorian Brickwork, The First Rebreather and Judas Unrepentant are all epic, exultant, well-drilled performances, while the acoustic Uncle Jack is delightfully frisky.
Only Wind Distorted Pioneers looks contrived, as the band line up to sing like unwilling nightclub bouncers corralled into performing carols for an ITV Christmas show. “We knew what we could do as a collective,” says drummer Nick D’Virgilio. “Now we know what we can do as a unit.” It may have taken 26 years to get where they’re going, but Big Big Train have arrived in some style.