Steve Hillage : Paris Bataclan 11.12.79 : 2CD Review

Steve Hillage’s Parisian Triumph: A Night at Bataclan Unleashed

In the annals of progressive rock and guitar virtuosity, few names shine as brightly as Steve Hillage. Known for his work with Gong and his expansive solo career, Hillage’s influence spans the realms of psychedelic rock, prog, and even into the electronic music scenes of the 1980s and beyond. Now, fans and newcomers alike are treated to a remarkable journey back in time with the release of “Steve Hillage: Paris Bataclan 11.12.79,” a live album that captures a pivotal moment in Hillage’s career.

Released by Madfish Records, this 2CD set is a treasure trove of musical brilliance, recorded live at the Bataclan in Paris on December 11, 1979. This concert, now lovingly remastered and expanded, offers a unique snapshot of Hillage at the zenith of his powers, surrounded by a band capable of navigating the complex waters of his musical vision.

The album kicks off with “Earthrise,” a track that, until now, has been a rare gem in Hillage’s live repertoire. From the outset, it’s clear that this isn’t just another live recording. The quality, despite being sourced directly from the mixing desk to cassette, transcends the limitations of its medium, delivering a sound that, while it may not have the expansive dynamics of a modern live album, immerses the listener in the energy and spirit of the performance.

Steve Hillage himself reflects on the recording with a mix of humility and pride, noting the “great deal of joy and power” in the music. It’s a sentiment that resonates through each track, from the psychedelic explorations of “Palm Trees (Love Guitar)” to the ethereal beauty of “The Glorious Om Riff.” Hillage’s guitar work is indeed “totally scorching,” a testament to his status as a guitar great whose influence echoes through the decades.

The band, featuring Miquette Giraudy on synthesizer and vocals, Andy Anderson on drums, Paul Francis on bass and vocals, and Dave Stewart on guitar, matches Hillage’s intensity and creativity step for step. Their synergy is palpable, creating a live experience that is as compelling as it is historic.

The 2CD set unfolds to reveal live photos of Hillage and the band, alongside a booklet filled with personal reflections from Hillage, translations of onstage banter. It’s a comprehensive look at a musician who has never been content to rest on his laurels, always looking to push the boundaries of what’s possible in music.

“Steve Hillage: Paris Bataclan 11.12.79” is a celebration of a musician who has continually evolved, embracing new sounds and ideas while staying true to the visionary spirit that has defined his career. For fans of Steve Hillage, this release is an essential addition to their collection. For newcomers, it’s a compelling introduction to one of the 20th century’s guitar greats, a musician whose work remains as relevant and inspiring today as it was over four decades ago.

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Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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