One week on from their first UK performance in almost two years Galahad promised something of an exclusive in hot and sweaty hometown venue Mr Smiths – the first full performance of the ‘Year Zero’ album. Before that there was a chance to relive some musical highlights from earlier albumst.
As at Whitchurch the set kicked off with a gasmask obscured Stu Nicholson and the keyboard dominated title track of the ‘Sleepers’ album. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the heat, unlike the previous weekend, Stu didn’t wear the accompanying trenchcoat. Props discarded the first set then switched between the fairly recent ‘Following Ghosts’ album (‘Myopia’ in particular impressing with some rapid riffing care of guitarist Roy Keyworth) and far earlier songs from ‘Nothing is Written’ and before. A quiet piano introduction backed the first verse of ‘Richelieu’s Prayer, a song possibly familiar to Rotherham audiences as it features on the live album recorded at a CRS show. The rest of the band joined in and began "putting on the pressure" before the audience-generated pyro of party popper towards the end of the track. ‘Lady Messiah’ was introduced as being "written before the bass player was born" and while not quite true did delve back as far as 1989. Despite not being involved with the initial version the rhythm section of drummer Spencer Luckman and bass player Neil Pepper provided tight and solid backing to the track.
After a short beer break the band reconvened for the main event – ‘Year Zero’. December 2000 saw the first outing of sections from the album but tonight the fully fleshed version was returning the same stage. As with many of the tracks played part 1 (of the 14 mentioned on the setlist) began with the keyboard dexterity of Mulder lookalike Dean Baker. Indeed, with the perfusion of effects at his disposal, there were times during the show where it seemed Dean was trying to communicate with higher beings rather than provide links between the songs. The album took a few listens to get into but that time certainly helped me appreciate the live version. There is so much going on that I imagine parts of it are hard to do justice to live and certainly the music seemed sharper and more concise in places. Indeed, due to a strict curfew, a couple of mainly instrumental sections were side-stepped towards the end of the piece though if I’d not seen Stu rapidly make the rounds of the band with editing instructions after checking his watch I probably wouldn’t have realised this was the case. Despite this the music flowed smoothly to a climax as the customary box of Roses chocolates was scattered among the audience.
As the band wiped sweat from their brows at the side of the stage the venue owner informed them there was time for an encore so the hollering crowd were presented with certainly my favourite Galahad song, ‘Room 801’ to bring the evening to a close. Considering Galahad have played just a handful of shows in the last year they provided a tight show and Rotherham will now provide the first full performance of ‘Year Zero.
This review originally appeared in the Classic Rock Sock society magazine, Rock Society - Sept 2002.
More of my photos from the show are available at Room 801.