Glass Hammer, LIVE AT THE TIVOLI (2006)

Glass Hammer Live at the Tivoli (Sound Resources, 2008)

Recorded at Lee University, October 17, 2006

Sound Resources, 2008.

Tracks: Eiger Dreams (intro music); Run Lisette; A Cup of Trembling; Lirazel; Heroes and Dragons; Longer; Knight of the North; Beati Quorum Via; Having Caught a Glimpse; and South Side of the Sky)

Call it being a loyal fan, call it being more than a bit OCD, or call it being a bit of both. . . . LIVE AT THE TIVOLI was the last Glass Hammer release I needed to become a full-fledged, more than honorable, Glass Hammer completest.  I can now rather proudly state that I own every single album and DVD Glass Hammer has released.  This is not small feat given 1) how much the band has produced in its glorious history; and 2) given just how hard it is to find a few of their DVDs.  But, I’ve done it.

And, it’s a beautiful thing.  Beautiful in terms of sound, in terms of video, and in terms—but of course!—in enthusiasm.

Listening to Glass Hammer is glorious enough, but getting to see them and to listen to them at the same time is something simply extraordinary.

A sequel of sorts to the band’s LIVE AT BELMONT, LIVE AT TIVOLI is not as strong on the camera work as its immediate predecessor, but the set list is perfect and the performances flawless.

Bogdanowicz and Groves at ROSFest.

As with LIVE AT BELMONT, TIVOLI features the singing pair of Carl Groves and Susie Bogdanowicz.  If I praised Susie even more than I have in other posts, folks out in the prog world might start asking questions!  Ha.  Seriously, I think Bogdanowicz has one of the two best voices in the rock world of today (only rivaled by David Longdon of Big Big Train), and I equally think that she and Groves make the best pair in rock, period.  I appreciate what Jon Davison has brought to the band, but, for me, if I want the best and classic GH lineup, I want Groves and Bogdanowicz.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating (not out of the realm of possibilities in my weird world) and If you want to hear just how extraordinary Bogdanowicz’s voice is, simply queue up GH’s rendition of Yes’s “South Side of the Sky.”  While I realize this will be considered heresy in many prog circles, I believe GH’s re-write is far better than the original, though the original is one of my favorite Yes songs.  I will never forget the first time I heard GH’s version.  It was late October, 2007, and I had just burned the CD to iTunes and onto my iPod.  I was out for a walk, and when I hit play for the first time, I was utterly floored.  Even to this day, nearly a decade later, I can still still the autumnal trees and feel the fall chill in the air at the moment I heard her first vocal lines.  Frankly, I still get goose bumps listening to Bogdanowicz’s version.

As noted in the track list above, GH offers an unusual but highly successful set of songs.  “Eiger Dreams” is interesting intro music and the choir reveals its many excellences with its own take on “Beati Quorum Via,” by Charles Villiers Stanford, based on Psalm 119.  Otherwise, the set list is also pure GH (there’s a prog version of Dan Fogelberg’s 1979 pop hit, “Longer”).  Taken from LEX REX, THE INCONSOLABLE SECRET, AND CULTURE OF ASCENT, LIVE AT TIVOLI really shows off GH’s more romantic and orchestral side.

There are no documentaries or extras, but the concert—in and of itself—is excellent.  This DVD is pretty hard to find.  I spent nearly two years trying to hunt one down, and, the moment a copy became available, I ordered it.  So very glad I did.  As with all things Glass Hammer, LIVE AT TIVOLI is a beauty.

Babb (left) and Schendel (center). Two of the most important heroes of third-wave prog.

Babb and Schendel–the founders and mainstays of Glass Hammer–have persevered for a quarter of a century.  For any of us who love prog, we owe so very, very much to these two men. And, interestingly enough, they never stop giving.  They work hard, they innovate, and they treat us so very well.   They also, not surprisingly, only get better with each new year and with each new album.

For me, they are the American equivalent of Big Big Train, the absolute best of the best.

This morning, while attending Palm Sunday Mass, I couldn’t help but think how much GH’s LEX REX has shaped my own understanding of the Easter mystery, poor as it is.  When I listen to GH, I’m pretty sure the musicians already have some really mystical connection to the divine and to the heavenly realm.

So great of them to allow us to participate!  Grace calling upon grace.



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