Sadly not released until nearly forty years after Flash’s demise, nevertheless it is a marvelous reminder of what a great Progressive Rock Band Flash were, especially as a live attraction.
Recorded January 1973 in Kansas in the middle of a snow storm, it delightfully shows off the heat created by this quartet.
Flash formed after Peter Banks was unceremoniously kicked out of the rather pompous band Yes for having a bit too much of a good time on and off the stage. Yes never really reclaimed that bite after they let Mr. Banks go.
Peter Banks hastily recruited the talents of Ray Bennet on bass guitar and vocals (especially as harmonies were such an important part of the overall sound), a great man to have in the ranks as he was a dexterous bass player, a solid songwriter, a genial personality with good stage presence.
Chosen to front the band was champion tambourine smasher Colin Carter who, although singing in the same sort of range as Jon Anderson from Peter Bank’s previous band, he also put far more passion and enthusiasm into the songs.
The surprise packet was young unknown drummer Mike Hough who may have looked more like a school teacher than a rock’n’roll star. He was one of the busiest drummers around as he played his kit as if there was just one continuous drum solo going on.
Of course on lead guitar there was Peter Banks, the acknowledged originator of hard progressive rock guitar. On the live stage he commanded his empire.
This concert was recorded just after the release of Flash’s second album, Flash in the Can, so the set list is a nice mixture of songs from the debut album and some of the newer songs.
After the introduction tape, the band burst into their traditional opener Small Beginnings. You will immediately be amazed by the power and violence put into the playing, still very precise but storming through.
The pace does not let up with only Colin Carter’s in between song introductions to allow you to draw breath.
There is even an example of how to present a drum solo: short and sweet.
After a rampaging version of Children of the Universe, the band go into the set closer, their standard bearer, Dreams of Heaven. At over 24 minutes long, there is plenty of room for all four of the members of Flash to show their credentials as the first, while they give themselves plenty of jamming room. Plus elements of good humor come out.
Peter Banks is quite rightly the star of this with his fingers flying up and down the fret board before getting some wonderful effects from his guitar mimicking a Space Ship taking off. You actually feel the lift off, as shortly afterwards the band batter their way in to bring the set to a rousing conclusion. At the end the audience, whoop, holler, stamp and clap their appreciation.
It is perhaps forty years too late that we finally got a proper live album from Flash, but now we have it we should treasure it.
The band only survived three years before disappearing in a flash of bad management and misunderstanding. But while they burnt they shone out brightly. They were a Flash.
Written by Mott the Dog from Pattaya’s Darkside.
Photos supplied by Fernando Perdomo.