Personnel: Robert Calvert (vocals, synthesizer); Steve Pond (guitar, drum programming, sequencer, background vocals); Dead Fred (grand piano, keyboards, bass guitar, background vocals); Mary Cason (keyboards, sequencer).
Audio Remixer: Brian Snelling.
Recording information: The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (10/01/1986).
One of the best of the various archive projects unveiled since Robert Calvert's so untimely death, At the Queen Elizabeth Hall was recorded in London in October 1986, shortly after the release of his Test Tube Conceived album. Representing less than half of the live show, this set, however, is firmly retrospective, drawing in the main from his solo debut, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, and the oddly overlooked Freq. As such, it goes without saying that the live versions struggle to match their studio counterparts -- both albums, after all, were very much the children of the recording studio, and a scratch band pieced together from various members of Inner City Unit simply cannot compete. The recording quality, on the other hand, is more or less excellent, and this remains a fascinating document, both for the chance to experience Calvert's on-stage conversation, and for the ferocious version of "Working Down a Diamond Mine," a wry look at life in his own South African homeland -- "not a very fashionable place to have been born, these days," he remarks. A release of the full concert must be somewhere on the horizon (Inner City Unit's own website hosts a downloadable version of a later show on the tour that followed); in the meantime, At the Queen Elizabeth Hall represents a rare opportunity to hear one of British rock's most indisputable geniuses in full and fiery flight. ~ Dave Thompson