The Tangent – Pyramids, Stars & More. Live Recordings 2004-2017: Album Review

A feast of live recordings from The Tangent.

Release Date: 27th January 2023

Label: Inside Out Music

Format: digital / gatefold 3LP+2CD / 2CD digipak

Triple live albums, two and half hours of Prog Rock, tracks that regularly invade the ten and twenty-minute mark. What The Tangent overlord, Andy Tillison calls “a real, proper, live album – candid, spontaneous, mistakes and bits that are too loud or too quiet. What happened on stage when there were no thoughts of making a live album.” Just as it should be. And to be fair to Andy, the triple live album is a bit of a box ticker. It has to be done.

As the title states, we’re gifted a selection of live recordings that cover the period 2004-2017. The centrepiece is the entire Pyramids & Stars show from Germany in 2004 with a German language intro to the ‘Roine Stolt’ version of the band and a set based around 2003’s The Music That Died Alone album. One that featured a genuine galaxy of Prog stars, who form the core of the live band and which also confirms the regard in which Mr Tillison is held, that he likes of Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold bring their skills to the Tangent table.

The official live bootleg from the original lineup gets rebooted with a set that shows their ambition across lengthy pieces that wind through several passages. There are masses of opportunities to admire the virtuosity and sheer joy of interacting musically in several lengthy workouts over the first four sides of vinyl. On the keyboard front Andy’s piano trades off with synth and fizzing organ lines, tons of jazzy inflections, even some scat singing and of course Mr Stolt’s magical guitar while his Flower Kings compadre and bassist Jonas Reingold is strongly present in the mix.

The cheer of recognition at the start of In Darkest Dreams shows how the German audience is set to experience a twenty minute tour de force. The space allows the band to express themselves freely and without restrain. Off the leash they excel and the electricity and excitement is palpable.

There’s a rapid blast through Lucky Man (yes, that one) to round things off. Audience participation, the build to a massed climax after the faithful acoustic showcase (and ‘Moog’ solo) plus a lengthy outro of appreciation. Certainly not the music that died alone as the penultimate track hints at. Another of Andy’s tongue in cheek references – see also ‘the slow rust of long forgotten machinery’ – to the art of genuinely progressive music. When he sings about seeking a furtive listen, it feels like being part of an exclusive but underground club, which is sometimes how it actually feels.

The more recent incarnations of The Tangent see Luke Machin on board whose guitar prowess and stock seems to increase by the day. He delivers a searing lead break on Dr Livingstone I Presume as some of the pieces are more reined in, shorter and brought to a sharp finish rather than heading off into improvisations of following a lead to see where they go.

The CD version adds a bonus half hour where Titanic Calls Carpathia is suitably titanic in scope and a little heavier in the Prog stakes and Two Rope Swings has a nostaligic swing that Tillison often calls upon for lyrical inspiration.

Pyramids… offers those who’ve missed out on lve Tangent thus far to appreciate a musician and his visions of extending musical boundaries. Old school values from a band who, led by Captain Tillison, have always embraced the Progressive ideal. What’s next on the bucket list?

Here’s the 2012 version of The Tangent performing A Crisis In Mid Life featuring the line-up of Andy Tillison, Luke Machin, Dan Mash & Tony ‘Funkytoe’ Latham: 

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