Friday evening front row view
After managing, one way or another, to miss Soft Machine in concert for the entire first half-century of their existence, I'm now playing a belated game of catch-up having seen them twice in the past nine months, most recently last Friday evening at a venue just eight miles up the road from my house. Between tunes, guitar virtuoso John Etheridge mused on the band's long history, it's legacy, illustrious former members and, crucially, the precise nature of their genre - '...Jazz-rock? Prog-rock? Jazz-prog?...'
The original recordings of 'The Tale of Taliesin' and 'Hidden Details' are separated by 42 years, yet feature three of the same personnel - Etheridge (now aged 71) drummer John Marshall (78) and bassist Roy Babbington (79). The current line-up is completed by 55 year-old multi-instrumental whippersnapper Theo Travis, who has played with the band for a mere 13 years, while somehow also maintaining both a solo career and one as a sideman for artists such as King Crimson, David Gilmour, David Sylvian and Steven Wilson. Soft Machine ripped into both of these tunes and many others on Friday evening with all the thrilling inventiveness and attack of players a fraction of their respective ages. It really was a terrific show.
Soft Machine - The Tale of Taliesin (1976)
Soft Machine - Hidden Details (2018)