photos by Sarah Harvey
Most concerts I go to, I generally have an idea of what I am expecting and it was no different with Curved Air at Hailsham Pavilion on Saturday 4th November, 2017. The last time I had seen Curved Air was almost 43 years ago on Hastings Pier, coincidentally almost to the day, and in all realism hadn’t expected to re-capture that 1970s flavour since the only member of the band who remains from those days is the wonderful vocalist Sonja Kristina. So what, I wondered, would this concert deliver for me? Hailsham Pavilion is a wonderful intimate venue with wonderful acoustics, and clearly an ideal setting for a band who deserved some concentration, since this was progressive rock in its purest form.
I cast my mind back to a few weeks before when I made the mistake of paying to go and see WASP at the White Rock Theatre. I had never been a great fan of WASP but thought I should go and support a concert by an internationally-renowned band in my home town. As it turned out, they appeared apathetic and seemed to have some contempt for the audience, and that was after they turned up late and without as much as a ‘sorry’. They then continued their contempt by dishing up just 75 minutes of mediocre music.
I know this isn’t a review of WASP, but I just wanted to highlight the difference with Curved Air, whose approach to the audience was entirely different. There was no such short-changing from these wonderful musicians and they produced a stunning set of music for a full two hours.
The set flowed through a complex mixture of old and new music that thoroughly demonstrated the wonderful playing of the various band members and of course the mystical singing and movement of Sonja Kristina. Golden oldies such as ‘Stay Human’, ‘Metamorphis’, ‘Back Street Luv’, ‘It Happened Today’, ‘Marie Antionette’, ‘The Purple Speed Queen’, ‘Vivaldi’ were interspersed with newer offerings such as ‘Time Games’ and new compositions generated with the current line-up in mind. Every song performed was played incredibly tightly and the togetherness of the band was something to behold. One of the key elements of Curved Air has always been the violin and if Paul Sax’s facial expressions were anything to go by, he put his heart and soul into his playing. Paul’s violin came through so powerfully hence ensuring it remained a key element in the band.
Kit Morgan’s sensational guitar playing left me with that feeling I have felt so often since the 70s, in that I should probably give up playing the guitar. I was spellbound. I am not an expert on Bass Guitarists, but he looked pretty good. Happily I had an expert in Iain Cobby sitting right next door to me. His colourful adjectives left me in no doubt that Chris Harris knew his stuff. I am also not an expert on keyboardists, but I know what I like to hear and the keyboard pieces in Metamorphosis were something quite special . Happily another area of Iain Cobby’s expertise although probably didn’t need the colourful adjectives this time around to verify. A special word for drummer and percussionist Andy Tween, only his second gig with the band having replaced Florian Pilkington-Miska who had recently left the band after nine years. His timing was spot on all the way through all compositions, some of which were amazingly complicated .
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying concert. I referred earlier to the apathetic WASP concert some weeks ago and the contrast that was served up by Curved Air. The band members of Curved Air all made a point of coming down to meet the concert-goers after the show and how nice it was to briefly speak to the thoroughly pleasant violinist Paul Sax, who made a point of thanking us for coming to the show. I said at the beginning of this review that I hadn’t expected to re-capture that 1970s flavour of going to prog rock gigs. In the end, Curved Air took me right back and beyond into the future. WASP? Look and learn. Curved Air? Legends indeed! Sarah Harvey – 09/11/2017
Andy Qunta… Thanks for that great review, Sarah! Would love to see Curved Air again. Love their stuff!
Phil Thornton… thanks for posting Sarah !
Jim Breeds… A Phantasmagorical review!
Peter Fairless… Thank you, Sarah
Tony Davis… Wish I’d been there. Excellent review Sarah
Alan Esdaile… good review, wish I had gone.
Jim Breeds… SMART delegation needs to go en masse to the next one
Colin Norton… Great review, Sarah!
Tim Moose Bruce… If they come to this venue again I will definitely be there.
Pete Fisher… good review Sarah…saw them in London in 1974…btw there will always be people who are better than you on whatever instrument you play, so don’t let that discourage you, let it inspire you to carry on enjoying playing…it’s not about how good you are!
Dave Nattress… Sarah, loved that review of Curved Air. I too saw them at the pier – maybe the same concert as you. I’m unsure whether they did the pier more than once. We’re not really old enough are we for it to have been 43 years ago? Regards to Mr Cobby as well.
Iain Cobby… Thank you Dave, and your good self. Spot on Sarah, great review, I couldn’t agree more. Sorry Mr Davis, your loss was my gain, but this was truly meant to be. One of the best gigs I’ve been to in many years and as I recall tighter that the original band.
J Morris… Last saw them in 76 have tickets for them early in the new year , I can’t wait , thanks for the review . Sometimes disappointing to see old bands but doesn’t seem to be an issue with curved air