ORGAN PREVIEW: Gryphon – crumhorn-wielding at the Union Chapel

28 May

I’m really out of the loop – I didn’t even know that Gryphon were playing, let alone touring. If I’d known, I’d have blogged about it earlier (and perhaps saved up for a ticket).

Gryphon are a wonderful band – a serious-minded but no-bullshit bassoon-and-crumhorn-toting electric folk/prog oddity with a perfect and elegant focus. They seemed to come about almost by accident in the early ’70s, as if a group of matter-of-fact mediaeval music scholars had suddenly been caught up on a lolling tongue of rock and taken off for a ride for a few years. I’ve not seen them play since 2009, when after thirty-one years they finally put on a reunion at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. In a lone concession to rock theatre, reed player Brian Gulland turned up in a Wild Man of Borneo barnet and matching beard, and had the latter shaved off with a straight razor during the encore. Otherwise it was a straight demonstration that it was Gryphon’s music which had always mattered – inclusive, always choosing the deft path over the clotted, as clear as a bell and never overblown. They promised us a new album, but went quiet about that very quickly: at least they’re still up for playing.

If you’ve not already committed to something else for tomorrow’s London evening (and I know I’ve already pitched you two other options in the past week) do go along, but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Organ’s typically gonzo-rapturous take on the band and the tour. I couldn’t agree with them more.

THE ORGAN

gryphon_unionchapel_flyeGryphon are on tour, this is a very very good thing, Gryphon are gloriously beautiful, they’re like Bagpuss or strawberry jam on toast, they’re like every good thing from back there when all was good, pipe organs and tank engines and crumhorn-wielding and jousting and as cool as f. And tomorrow is the final night of their rather unexpected current tour – It has been a long time coming and so it is with enormous pleasure that we announce the Gryphon “None the Wiser” tour. – Gryphon bring their unique blend of English prog, refined folk and mediaeval warmth to London’s Union Chappel

Gryphon is the oldest and the newest thing – a legendary British band that’s as exhilarating, energetic, unpredictable and addictive now as it was when the band last toured, in the 1970s. At that time, no-one could pigeonhole Gryphon. The band appeared on BBC Radios 1, 2…

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