Bardo Pond's soundcheck/warmup becomes a spectacle in and of itself, building from gadget-checking tics and plucks into a cauldron of improvised noise with every band member's instrument screaming in unison. A lot like the opening band, Ghostlights, as a matter of fact. I can't help feeling a bit like a sucker for going out of my way to purchase or hear so many BP side projects and jam sessions when it's plain to see that they can knock that shit out in their sleep without the slightest thought.
And that pattern tends to repeat itself ... "Destroying Angel" begins a string of songs based around a similar tempo and style -- relaxed start, slow build into the cauldron of etc., and even though I fall for their tricks every single time, after an hour I'm still holding out for something much slower (e.g. "Favourite Uncle") or much faster and aggressive (e.g. "Again"). Those moments never come, for the band is in the mood to pour jam on everything tonight, even digging "Abscence" out of the archives to slot it into this looser style. "Every Man" is one of their live staples, but I have always felt it was the weakest track on "On the Ellipse", so thankfully I'm more than happy to hear them encore with "Aldrin" (whose coda finally fulfills my yen for both an aggressive track and a suitably mammoth closer). But didn't you know that Bardo Pond will play all night if asked? Michael Gibbons asks for a few minutes break, and the thirty or so diehards who stick around to take him up on his offer are rewarded with an explosive run through "Tommy Gun Angel".
All this and two-plus hours in the company of Isobel Sollenberger, who is still the hottest woman in rock.