Much travelled keyboards wizard/vocalist/composer John Young had an idea for an album some seven years ago, which he shared with trusty engineer friend Steve Rispin, close neighbour Nick Beggs and ex-Cutting Crew drummer Frosty Beedle.
Enlisting the help of Steve Hackett, Thijs van Leer, Robin Boult and Jakko Jakszyk, John’s musical vision Lifesigns (band and album name) was released in 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Determined to raise further awareness of Lifesigns and take it to a wider audience, a crowdfunding campaign was launched last autumn to fund a live DVD – cunningly titled Live In London – and with the target duly reached, this, the second of two nights of filming, ensues.
Around 120 die-hards are here, most of whom know each other and many proudly sporting special “telephone” gig tee-shirts, assemble in the intimate venue nestling under the east stand of one of football’s great cathedrals. Some have travelled from the USA, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, Jersey and Wales for the privilege of being part of this exclusive Lifesigns coterie. Steve Rothery’s presence also makes an appearance to add an extra frisson of excitement.
With Beggs permanently otherwise engaged and Boult now part of the Fish camp, Young has enlisted Cardiacs’ Jon Poole on bass and former Steven Wilson guitarist Niko Tsonev to fill the two vacant frontline berths. Debuting Lifesigns live at the Leamington Assembly last March, subsequent performances (including the seabound Yes fest Cruise To The Edge), has seen the band develop into a tight, polished unit. There’s a genuine camaraderie and mutual respect between the four which only benefits the music. Here, they seem completely relaxed in front of often unforgiving cameras and the wholly partisan crowd.
The inclusion of backdrops depicting lighthouse, telephone boxes and the album cover’s now iconic church provides a visual dimension previously lacking in the live shows. Each player now assumes a distinct “character” in the band. Poole’s the flamboyant, cavorting showman, knocking out thunderous bass lines and delicate fretwork in equal measure; Tsonev – now with his own crowd chant – the silent virtuoso letting his magnificent guitar runs do all his talking (and can someone please explain the chicken picture on his static acoustic guitar); Beedle in some kind of continuous transcendental state while cranking out the complex rhythms; and of course, Young as the genial, affable master of ceremonies.
Everybody’s having an absolute blast at SingalongaLifesigns. Just about everyone there knows all the words, apart from the few newbies present, and this creates a seamless connection between band and audience. The Live In London DVD will only further rubberstamp the overarching Lifesigns message that prog music can be both captivating and fun in equal measures.
Voice In My Head
Fridge Full of Stars
End of the World