Tonight’s show is divided into two sets. The first features only violinist and former member of King Crimson David Cross and saxophonist/flautist and former Van der Graaf Generator member David Jackson on stage. Cross and Jackson are two talented men with great senses of humour: when they aren’t making music, they entertain the audience with jokes and hilarious anecdotes about past tours.
Their psychedelic, experimental and eclectic prog rock is littered with improvisations. They both use a broad range of sound effects on their instruments, and the extraordinary Jackson has no difficulty playing two saxophones at the same time.
Starless Starlight Loops is the first track of the evening, originally written and performed by David Cross and Robert Fripp on the album Starless Starlight. It’s followed by Van der Graaf Generator’s Theme One/Axis Shattered. Planxty Irwin is an old Irish folk song, and the pair give it a complete improvisational makeover. They end the set with Sure Of The Dark, another song from Starless Starlight.
The second set has the complete band on stage. As well as Cross and Jackson, there’s Craig Blundell on drums, bassist Mick Paul, singer Jinian Wilde and guitarist Paul Clark.
Compared to the first set, the music is more accessible. The band play most of the songs from latest album Sign Of The Crow, including The Pool, which starts in a very modest, balladic manner, Wilde carrying the song brilliantly with his solid voice.
Sadly, there are some recurring technical problems, meaning the intro to a cover of King Crimson’s Exiles gets off to a rough start. Luckily the chaos is compensated for by a wonderfully versatile bass solo from Paul, who uses his entire fretboard. After Exiles, Blundell has the stage to himself for a long, outstanding drum solo, before the band march back on to end their second set with Crimson’s Starless. Then there’s the inevitable encore, which is demanded by the enthusiastic audience. It’s 21st Century Schizoid Man, a powerful close to the evening.
The David Cross Band have something for everyone. They don’t shy away from exploring several music genres, taking them to the edge of possibilities, and all the musicians give a wonderful performance. Cross and Jackson are pioneers of the progressive rock principles, and prove that they’re still capable of surprising the audience thanks to their experience and talent.