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Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008

Peter Hammill

Tonight @ Shank Hall - 8 p.m.

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Even if he’d stopped recording after the 1970s, Peter Hammill would have been heralded as one of the most important figures in prog-rock for his work as the primary singer-songwriter in Van der Graaf Generator, the British ensemble whose ambitious, ever-shifting albums presaged most major trends in prog-rock, and later even hinted at early punk-rock. After Van der Graaf Generator’s 1978 break-up, though, Hammill went on to cement his reputation with literally dozens of solo albums, each with a different instrumental set-up—some were keyboard heavy, some prioritized Hammill’s furious guitar, and others took a more choral approach. His latest, 2006’s Singularity, is his first studio album since the 2005 reunion of Van der Graaf Generator, and also the first since a near-fatal heart attack. The album’s ruminations on mortality, however, were as inspired by the freak car accident that killed Hammill’s longtime piano technician as they were by Hammill’s own brush with death, as Hammill explained to the Shepherd Express’ Mark Krueger in a recent interview in advance of Hammill’s 8 p.m. show at Shank Hall tonight.