Thoughts on BBT’s live debut

To echo John, “Wow” is a pretty good way of summing it up. “Stunning” and “special” would also do. There are countless superlatives that could be substituted here.

I was thinking a lot about last night’s gig as I travelled north on the train this morning and I’ll share a few of those thoughts here. There’ll be no spoilers, and I’ll not be writing an actual review myself – I’m sure John and other Progarchists will be doing that more thoroughly and eloquently than I could.

The first thing that strikes me is how unusual it is for a well-established band, with such a body of work behind them, to have never before performed as a live act. That’s part of what made yesterday evening so magical to me, aside from the obvious special qualities of the music itself.

Second observation: debutantes could be forgiven some hesitancy or nervousness, and we might not expect them to sound as tight as a more seasoned unit. Yet there was none of that here. The thrill of seeing this music performed in a concert venue for the very first time was greatly amplified by the confidence and assurance of the performers. It simply felt like they’d been doing this as a band for years. (If only they had been…)

Third (slightly shamefaced) observation: I’ll confess to some doubts before last night. I worried about how well that amazing album sound, rich, multilayered and impeccably recorded, would translate to the live setting. Surely some of its depth and subtlety would be lost in the process? Well on that score I’m happy to have been conclusively proven a complete idiot!

These players have taken that advice to “run hard as you like” to heart. Moments that were powerful and energetic on record seemed to take on new power, greater energy. Yet none of the delicacy was lost – a testament to their skill as musicians.

Big Big Train have emerged from the chrysalis, and the splendour of their new form is dazzling.

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