Colosseum for the middle of the week. From a concert given at the Ruisrock Festival in Finland on August 22, 1970 and broadcast by YLE-Radio in Helsinki.
No doubt, you are sick of hearing people say “you should have seen them live!” over and over again. Or dragging out the names of bands you may never have heard of from a period of time you may not have been born in.
But there were those bands that were game-changers, who steered music in a new direction and took it places we hadn’t heard before. Many of those bands have fallen off the map, or were obscure to begin with, or were considered “musicians musicians”, and their presence in the grand scheme of things becomes something of a smug one-up to those who were fans and were listening when no one else was.
Music was heading towards the big gap by the time the 60s came to a close. There was mainstream pop which was the sole property of AM radio and Teen magazines. And there were those bands and that music which was called a lot of things, but became the sole property of FM radio. And within that genre were bands and artists who were busy mashing up other genres and coming out with something new – blazing some new musical trail. It wasn’t for everybody – it wasn’t music you could dance to – it was loaded with rhythm but it compelled you to sit down and stare off into space and not say anything. To the audience it represented music that didn’t adhere to the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge formula, but rather took its nod from the improvisational nature of Jazz, the musical discipline and technique of Classical, the backbone of Rock and the experimental premise of Electronic music and came out with something to be known as Progressive Rock.
But with every movement and genre, there are the ones who make the big splash, who take the theatrical aspect of the music and expand on it, while other bands quietly stayed in the background and kept experimenting. Colosseum was one of those bands that were a solid mainstay of the Progressive/Experimental movement. Though not particularly well known outside the Underground, they were highly influential and were trail blazers that became the inspiration for many bands and artists, even today.
There is no denying that Jon Hiseman was one of the best drummers in music. One of the most frustrating things about this concert is that, towards the end of the drum solo on The Machine Demands A Sacrifice the tape cuts out. Destroyed, technical malfunction, tape flip – anyone of a number of accidents, but truly a great shame. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying what is a memorable concert by a milestone band, smack in the middle of changing the trail of Rock music around.
Regardless of whether you were there at the time, not there at all, or missed it in favor of something else, here is an example of one of the most dynamic and far-reaching bands of the early period of Prog.
You really can’t miss them, and it would be a shame if you never had the opportunity of hearing Jon Hiseman.
Quick caveat: aside from the missing end of the drum solo, the concert starts off with the engineer fiddling with the mix and it takes a couple minutes before it calms down. But it’s a small inconvenience in lieu of the bigger picture.