Live In Concert At Metropolis Studios
Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers
double live album & DVD - 4 June 2012
01) The October Man
02) Night Creatures
03) God Man Slain
05) Lady You're A Strange Girl
06) Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
07) Furniture Music
08) Do You Dream In Colour?
09) Ships In The Night
10) Lovers Are Mortal
11) Maid In Heaven
12) Sister Seagull
13) Wonder Of The Moment
14) Panic In The World
15) Beyond These Clouds The Sweetest Dream
16) Golden Dream Of Circus Horses
17) A Dream For Ian
18) For Stuart
19) Interview (DVD only)
The Recorded Live In Concert at Metropolis Studios, London album is a double CD + DVD package that had appeared
the previous May as a DVD only release. The story behind the recording and the controversy that followed can be viewed here at the DVD page.
The musicians that Nelson assembled for this one-off performance under the guise of The Gentlemen Rocketeers were: Theo Travis on flute and saxophone; Jon Wallinger on Keyboards and acoustic guitar; Steve Cook on keyboards; Dave Standeven on guitar; Dave Sturt on bass guitar; and Gavin Griffiths on drums.
The rights to the audio and video recording at some point transferred to a company called Salvo, who re-packaged the whole show into a 2CD/DVD combo, released on 4 June 2012. The audio material was simultaneously released as a digital download with three video tracks. Salvo then followed this with a double vinyl edition issued on 28 April 2014, which loses the four tracks from Nelson's solo set that can be found on the DVD and 2CD/DVD editions.
The album has been discontinued, but is available as an (audio) download.
"When I first started to revive some of this material back in 2004, it took a while for me to re-learn, as I hadn't played any of it, (or even listened to any of it), for many, many years. None of it is written out, apart from transcriptions of the lyrics for the songs we played. It's just a matter of sitting down with the old albums and trying to figure out what I played 35 years ago..."
"I don't want to seem too dismissive BUT...it was possibly the worst on-stage sound I'd ever experienced, absolutely horrendous to be brutally honest. (This isn't just my opinion, by the way, it is shared by the rest of the band too). So, we all found the performance aspect deeply unsatisfying and the monitor/on-stage sound problem distracting. (Not what any of us predicted, given that we were in a recording studio.)
Someone said to me, "If you had known that the band would be expected to give their best under such difficult circumstances, would you have taken the gig on?" Well, truth is, I probably wouldn't. I think I'd almost certainly have turned the opportunity down.
However, despite us feeling that we'd been lashed to a very creaky mast, our audience was terrifically supportive...they were the real stars of the show. Bless you all for being there for us and being so into it. I'm glad you had a good time.
"Anyway, I've decided to take up the option of mixing the performance with John Spence and myself, rather than leaving it to chance. Maybe we can salvage something decent from it. Seems that, if I do this, the costs will have to come out of my own pocket, but I now need to take control of the quality of the performance to make sure the band comes across as favourably as possible. It's one thing to deal with it as one evening's live thrill, enjoyed for the moment, and unexamined...but anything more permanent requires extra effort and attention to detail if it is to hold up to repeated scrutiny. So, I'm now waiting to hear if it is possible to begin work on the recording at Fairview tomorrow. A few more days of hard work yet before I can feel more happy about it than I do right now."
"Have spent the last three days trying to get rid of microphone feedback overtones from the recording, correcting out-of-tune vocal lines caused by the poor quality monitoring and strange, muddy, overtone-laden room acoustics. Generally trying to minimise the problems caused by the conditions we had to deal with…
…When I did finally get home from Fairview this evening, I found Emiko listening to "The Girl in the Galaxy Dress" on the kitchen stereo system. After three days of listening to old rock material played live, I was knocked out by hearing this more recent album track...it sounded fresh, sophisticated, 'cool' and alive, really made me feel proud of what I've achieved in recent years. This is what I'd like/prefer people to hear, this is where my heart lays, where whatever talent I have nowadays lives and breathes. The guitar playing on this track alone is something I would happily put up as a single example of my deep, almost life-long love affair with the instrument. I just hope that whatever the exhumation of those cobwebby '70s songs achieves, that it will direct listeners to the music I'm making now."
Review by Pete Brown in Vintage Guitar Magazine
"Ever wondered what it would be like if Bill came and played in your front room? Well I found out last night.
Talk about intimate, I feel even closer to my fellow Nelsonians than ever before...what a bloody good night that was!! Worth every penny...
Bill and the band played a storming set, I got to hear "Sister Seagull" live again for the first time in over 35 years, hearing "Wonder of the Moment" was a bonus, as was hearing "Maid in Heaven" twice!, so close to guitarist Dave Standeven that his sweat was flying in my direction...A night to remember by all that attended, thanks to Bill and the Gentlemen Rocketeers..."
"It was tight and it was loud, but it was glorious and all of the guys worked their socks off. At one point I had the TV camera man using my shoulder to balance the camera so that he could get better low-down shots."
"Did someone say it was erotic??? It was for me!!
What an introduction to the world of Bill Nelson! I've been a long time fan of Be Bop Deluxe but when the hairs were standing to attention on the back of my neck & down the eternal spine when Bill performed "Contemplation", that was it for me!!
Thanks Again Bill you still have a lot to answer for!!"
"I was utterly knocked out by the new life, vigour and sheer joy that you and the Gentlemen managed to infuse the back catalogue with. Old things visited by the bloke you are now works for me!!!
I've never heard a band quite so tight after only a few days rehearsal. They did you proud. I wish they could have been standing where my Missus and I were. The onstage problems would explain the look on the two Dave's faces when I spoke to them after - if I'd known I would have done a bit better at reassuring them how great a night it was.
I was unbelievably touched by the good grace and time you lavished on us after the show. I understand what a demanding evening it was for you for all the reasons already stated."
"The intimacy of this performance was absolutely mesmerising. To look around and see close up the reactions of all the fans was just brilliant.
Bill, thanks for deciding to take a punt on doing the Legends show as you made it clear that it was a difficult decision.
Thanks also to the Gentleman Rocketeers, who were just wonderful in their professionalism as I know it was hot up there on the stage. I hope the TV public will repay your courage when the show is eventually aired. And to all the fans who made it to Chiswick High Street on Saturday, it was a pleasure to be amongst you all."
"I had a fantastic evening at the Metropolis and felt very privileged to see Bill in such a 'cozy' venue. The solo set was a revelation for me, seeing and hearing Bill play live backed by his collection of 'gizmology' has given me a fresh perspective. The band set was of course a joy."
"The evening had far too many magic moment to recall at one time. Let me think for a sec. "Maid in Heaven" played twice was very special. "A Dream for Ian" I have to confess never having heard before…wonderful and heartfelt. "Panic in the World" was a perfect ending and Bill letting rip at the end was amazing."
"All I can say is that, from the audience's side, it was fantastic - you've risen even further in our estimation, if that's possible!
Some of my friends and colleagues here think I'm mad to have travelled all the way from Hong Kong to the UK for a weekend "just to see a concert", but I can tell you that since I got back here I've had a permanent smile on my face. Credit to you for being able to connect with and affect people so deeply! Your performance was perfect, whatever story the tapes may tell!"
Tourist in Wonderland:
"From the opening few seconds I thought wow, this is really good!...in fact much better than I was expecting, having read about some of the issues...I know Bill chose the expensive option of 'tweaking' things with John...thanks Bill...but it was surely worth it...absolutely fabulous playing, sound, vision, production."
"I know Bill will always have reservations and doubts, and that's totally understandable, but I think the finished product of this project is a total success...and imho, it stands up on its own as a great recording that Bill and the whole band should be really proud of...I'm proud to own it...and it's got some knockout reactions from the friends I've played it to...So hopefully this will showcase what some of the Bill Nelson things are about and act as a springboard to get a lot more new people listening to (and buying) the more recent recordings.
"When you think about it, what a great document this DVD is also...50 years from now, the people who watch this will be stunned, just as we are, and will see just what being able to play and compose at the very highest level is all about...they'll say 'Damn...these guys can really play!'...and then they can spend the next 40 years trying to figure out, just how did one guy manage to come up with all this wonderful music?...I guess, much like us, they will never know."
"I can only speak for myself in this but it was a view echoed by everyone I spoke to on the night. I never thought at my age that I would experience such an intense, vibrant show and feel the way I felt 30 years ago when I was staring dumbfounded and awestruck at the performers on stage. I assumed I was too long in the tooth for that. How wrong was I? I wasn't alone either because when I looked around almost everybody was the same.
"The stupid grin has not left my face yet. A guy a work asked me what I did at the weekend and must have regretted it 'cause I subjected him to about 30 mins of my weekend experience. He did nothing.
"Still, I didn't need the title of a TV recording and a DVD to tell me what I already knew - the meaning of the word legend. You could have trebled the ticket price and I still would not have hesitated to click the 'Buy' button. (And I've got to buy two of the damned things). I will not forget that night.
"I haven't got an appropriate thank you to say - there isn't one. You can rest assured that I will be talking about this for a long time.
Our gratitude is boundless,
Love Colin & Caroline"
"I know there were some contractual and financial issues relating to the Live at Metropolis DVD/CD, but I think it is great that the band got to be filmed and recorded in front of a live audience. That line-up played at a few Nelsonica Conventions in Yorkshire to die-hard fans and all those gigs were great. I am just pleased that this band of Bill's got properly recorded for a greater number of people to see and hear.
"Despite the various setbacks, Bill sang and played fantastically well and it is a wonderful selection of songs from his enormous catalogue. Bill has written so many great songs, and he plays so beautifully. I am glad and grateful to have been a part of it."