London, Royal Albert Hall, Dec. 12, 1970
review by Jerry Gilbert
(Sounds, Dec. 30. 1970)
Family’s performance at the Albert Hall last week was introduced with a preamble about Golden Cookie awards for the year, and also the promise of a first set acoustic and a second set of heavier material, but the band drew no distinction here, instead the conflict seemed to be between their stage approach and exploits on record. For where as we are used to hearing plenty of good music on record, there was really little more than an exciting, rhythmic cacophony for much of the concert.
The lightweight and heavy numbers were not kept apart, and if you were looking for points to criticize in their fluidity, balance and musical precision, then there was plenty of scope for the critics. But in the end Family earned themselves a terrific respond for their exuberant display.
At the outset it was nervous enthusiasm as they staggered into ‘Anyway’ and recaptured none of the beauty of ‘Some Poor Soul’. In fact the whole concert was plunging when Family suddenly struck complete compatibility midway through the instrumental’Norman’s.’ Then ‘Lives and Ladies’ and ‘Holding The Compass’ showed just what they are capable of producing.
In the second set there was no holding back or restraining their enthusiasm as they unleashed great avalanches of sound in strong rhythmic patterns via piano, flute, vibes, organ (Palmer), violin (Weider), double necked guitar (Whitney) and drums (Townsend).
Imagine a succession of ‘Part Of The Load,’ ‘Drowned In Wine,’ ‘The Procession,’ ‘Good News Bad News,’ ‘The Weavers Answer’, ‘A Song For Me,’ and ‘Strange Band’ played at full tilt, and you’ll understand why the idiot dancers were moved into action. That was the second set.