Concert Review Archive

 
Electric Garden Festival 2010

Matt Stevens, Also Eden, Credo, Dropshard, Nerve Toy Trio, The Watch, Earthling Society, seYes, Godsticks, IT, Abel Ganz, The Tangent

19th - 21st May 2011
The Beat Club, Blackpool, The UK

Article By Stephen Lambe and John O’Boyle

The new and inaugural Electric Garden Festival was the brainchild of one Ken Foster, where we saw the homecoming of prog rock to the North West of England. A festival that was full of high quality entertainment, a fitting and friendly atmosphere that really added to the whole feel of the event that was enjoyed by everyone in attendance. It can’t be easy to ingratiate a new festival in this day and age, especially a prog festival, but Ken did and all those who attended, they would agree that it was a huge success. So here’s hoping for Electric Garden Festival 2. For those who couldn't make it..... here’s what you missed.

 

Thursday, 19th May 2011

Matt Stevens
By John O’Boyle

The first Electric Garden Festival kicked off in style with one of prog rocks true gentlemen Matt Stevens taking the stage. Guitar in hand and his effects peddles positioned. Matt proceeded to fill the room with his live looping techniques; a method of creating music that when performed live has always intrigued me. Matt’s air sculptures which were quite inventive, subtle and calming which held the audience’s attention, relieving them of any doubt as to the talent and beauty of his creations; this was music that majestically grew in stature as the set progressed. Whether Matt was playing a fantastic rendition of Burning Bandstand, the fragile Dolls House, the beguiling and harder paced Moondial, one thing for sure was, there was never a dull moment throughout, making it a very good start for the inaugural festival.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

Setlist Matt Stevens
Rusty
Burning Bandstands
Dolls House
Scapegoat
Moondial
8.19
Big Sky
 

Also Eden
By Stephen Lambe

Also Eden were making only their third live appearance since singer Rich Harding’s horrific motorcycle accident last year. Fortunately, even though he is clearly far from completely recovered, he was in fine voice, and the band put in an impressive performance. Opening with Seeing Red from the Differences At Light EP, they continued with a slightly plodding Artificial Light followed by three tracks from their forthcoming new album. These struck me as a touch less neo-prog and a little harder-edged than their first two albums, and showed considerable promise. The band completed their brief set with a dynamic and convincing performance of the epic Widows Eyes from It’s Kind of You to Ask. Rich was particularly impressive on this track, singing former vocalist Huw Lloyd Jones’ lyrics will real conviction. Although a little hesitant at times, and obviously suffering from some technical problems, this was an excellent set from a band finding it’s live feet again after a long layoff, and the future, at last, looks bright for them.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

Setlist Also Eden
Seeing Red
Artificial Light
Thinking of Children
Oversight
1949 A Widow’s Eyes
 

Credo
By John O’Boyle

Credo

As ever Credo never fails to enrapture the audience with their stunning neo-prog, musically caressing the audience’s ears, engulfing them in melodic soirees of the highest order and tonight was no exception to that rule, making them a most fitting headlining act. The band started the set off with a fantastic version of Round and Round, which then saw the band moving into the very dark, disturbing and graphic world of Skintrade; Mark Colton and the boys built their graphic lyrically imagery that doesn’t always sit easy, seedy word play that is somewhat voyeuristically intriguing.



As the set progressed the band grew in confidence, their stage presence mirroring their energy. Insane and Intimate Strangers from their latest release were delivered with exacting clarity as was the rather stunning The Ghosts of Yesterday, a firm future anthemic favourite, which confirmed to the unfamiliar that their new creations sit perfectly with their better known material.



Credo

Too Late to say Goodbye a solemn ode to the suffering and horrors of WW1 was up next, with the band really doing justice to the piece, people listening intently, a song that was brought to life and a fitting and rather emotional conclusion. Staring at the Sun kicked in with the band really on form, Tim Birrell who had supplied those beautiful crescendo guitars parts that he is renowned for, stepped up his game and delivered his harder edge attack, duelling with Mike Varty’s Keyboard wizardry, again confirming that Credo are a band with class.



Sadly no sooner had the set started, it was time for the band to bid farewell to the very appreciative crowd. It was time to play their ace card, their magnum opus and firm audience favourite, From The Cradle to the Grave, a two piece movement that seamlessly flowed into each other, a love story that featured some rather stunning, catchy melodies, rhythmically matching the powerful lyrical content, this was neo-pro at its best.



Conclusion: 10 out of 10

Setlist Credo
Round And Rounds
Skintrades
Insanes
Intimate Strangerss
The Games
The Ghosts Of Yesterdays
Too Late To Say Goodbyes
Staring At The Suns
From The Cradle to the Graves
 

Friday, 20th May 2011

Dropshard
By John O’Boyle

Dropshard

Dropshard

Young Turks from Italy Dropshard opened Friday night’s event with gusto and vigour, confidently playing their rather interesting prog metal. From the opener Enrico Scanu and co put all their efforts into entertaining the crowd, knowing full well that they were hitting the rights spots and pushing all the right musical buttons that the crowd desired. It wasn’t long before the crowd itself was eating out of their hands. The Band cleverly bookended their set with album closer Freedom Supermarket with Portrait from their second E.P which allowed them the freedom to showcase their versatility, which sandwiched the conceptual piece from the stunning debut Anywhere But Here album, that had the crowed agog.



It was always going to be interesting to see if the boys could pull this off as the album is quite special, but you know what, they did and with style. Benatti’s guitar work interacted well with Stucchi, really adding the meat to the bone, whilst Mangione drove the band from the back of the stage with Selleri in tow. This was music full of punctuation, meanderings, melodies, fantastic harmonies and balls, a band that is well worth seeing, a band mature beyond their age.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

Setlist Dropshard
Freedom Supermarket
Anywhere But Here ~ Look Ahead
Anywhere But Home
Images Of Mind
A Cold Morning
Again
Changing Colours
A New Beginning
Look Behind
Portraits
 

Nerve Toy Trio
By John O’Boyle

Nerve Toy Trio had caused a bit of a buzz before they had even stepped onto the stage, people were talking about them with intent interest. The trio hit the stage running with their jazz rock complexity. The band really displayed some fantastic dynamics throughout where you could hear slight influences of Metheny, Crimson and Colosseum.

Nerve Toy Trio

This was musical soundstages that had depth, filling the room with swirling, bouncing tones that didn’t give respite to the audience. The band grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and took them on their journey of discovery. Tony Harn and David Jones interaction was phenomenal, whilst being precisely held time perfect by Henry Rogers drumming, working as a team getting perfect results time and time again, making them a potential premiership prog band. Harn blended his own inimitable guitar style with varying other styles, consistently creating something very unique indeed, which created a vibe and intensity that everyone and I mean everyone in the room enjoyed immensely. This is a band that has took the standard rock format and manipulated the sonics having created something genius. The buzz created prior to the show was rightly deserved, three guys who played out of their skin, no pretentions other than entertaining which is what they succeeded in doing.

Conclusion: 9 out of 10

Setlist Nerve Toy Trio
Alive At Five
Strange Habits
Mar-Pex-Ke
Lucky Friday
Split The Sketch
Blues Blazes
The Riddle Handy Nerve Toy
 

The Watch
By John O’Boyle

The Watch As ever The Watch never fail to entertain the audience, always bringing the sentimental prog fan to their knees with their renditions of Genesis classics. Tonight’s Green show wasn’t going to be any different; the band performed their excellent renditions of the songs from Selling England by the Pound.

Close your eyes and you were transported back to the heady days of the 70’s, the magical period of Genesis. Simone Rossetti created a fantastic atmosphere delivering a very adept vocal performance, stepping to the front and doing both The Watch and the Genesis songs proud. There was no mistaking that Giorgio Gabriel in conjunction with Guglielmo Mariotti brought balance and feeling to the occasion that was marred at time by some slight sound issues, which seemed to cause slight confusion on stage. Ever the professionals the band played on offering stunning renditions of the well-known classics, with the crowd euphoric ally singing along. Marco Fabbri and Valerio De Vittorio held court well at the back of the stage offering another important ingredient to the whole occasion. The climax of the whole set was Supper’s Ready which brought the house down, the band knowingly knew that this was the moment to capitalise and manipulate their mesmerized audience, which they succeeded in doing, all the parts being punctuated by the instrumentation, time changes perfectly presented, whilst the crowd sung along unbelieving of what was happening. The band soaked up the energy from the crowd and on completion where stunned by the response they received.

There were some mixed feelings within the crowd, feelings that divided people opinions; there were some rumblings about The Watch not playing enough of their own material and how stunning they played the Genesis songs. No matter what your feelings are this was a fantastic show from very adept musicians that are humble and only too happy to be playing live music.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

Setlist The Watch
Medley Sirence
Watcher of the Skies
Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
I know What I like (In Your Wardrobe)
Firth of Fifth
One Day
The Battle of Epping Forrest
After The Ordeal
All The Lights
Cinema Show
Suppers Ready
 

Saturday, 21st May 2011

Earthling Society
By John O’Boyle

Saturday the longest and last day of the festival which saw homeboys Earthling Society open up the proceedings. The band delivered their dark and twisted doomy, stoner, space rock psych soundscapes , that lie somewhere between Hawkwind and the ether of Krautrock, being a somewhat refreshing start to the day’s events, building music that was slightly out of kilter with the other bands on the bill, a very smart move and no less entertaining. Their keyboard and bass heavy guitar tones filled the room emanating their cosmic wares, flowing, weaving in and out of the crowd, almost comforting, but yet still untouchable and stand offish, taking you on a journey that you have absolutely no control over. The band plied their wares offering up good renditions of set opener Dark Horizon and Future Dreams, but for me the piece of their set was the powerful Sci Fi Hi Fi played with real passion and vigour. This is definitely a band that fans of this genre should invest some time in. They have certainly come a long way since I last saw them supporting Julian Cope several years ago.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

Setlist Earthling Society
Dark Horizon
Cosmic Suite #2
Sci Fi Hi Fi
Future Dreams
Children of the.....
 

seYes

By John O’Boyle

SeYes were the second of two bands that played this festival concentrating on playing the music of another reverential prog band. This time the hint was in the name..... YES.

Their set consisted of three tracks, three brave but not obvious choices, played in their entirety, bringing a reminiscent tear to the eyes of some mature prog fans in attendance. The Band kicked off with Close to the Edge much to the amazement of the crowd with Phil Bernia emulating the tones of Jon Anderson well. Tim Lockyer and Phil Greenwood performed grand jobs emulating their heroes too. seYes chose to offer up another classic piece from the same album You and I with its complex and lush passages, but in all honesty what was played was eclipsed when the band announced that they were playing Gates of Delirium. The band cleverly worked the well-known piece, having the crowd mesmerised which brought their set to a close with a rapturous applause. This is what YES must have sounded like way back in the early 70’s.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

Setlist SeYes
Close to the Edge
You and I
Gates of Delirium
 

Godsticks

By John O’Boyle

Welsh prog band and a firm favourite in my eyes Godsticks may have felt that they had a hard ride having to follow seYes, but the technicality and quirkiness of their own music was a stunning site to behold, a very pleasurable experience, songs built on foundations of mesmerizing yet concise passages, technically rewarding and intriguing. Zappa has obviously had a big impact on the band, but Darran Charles and the boys really worked the instruments passionately, ringing every note out from them as if their life depended on it, adding their own uniqueness and personality to the proceedings.

Charles’ guitar inflections one minute jazz, the next rock, walked the precipice of danger whilst being reinforced by Steve Roberts stunning stickmanship and Dan Nelson’s timely bass passages, creating high energy musical pyrotechnics, that may have been quirky and exciting, but one thing that is for sure, is that Godsticks came out to entertain the audience and entertain they did. The frivolity didn’t stop there as Charles and Roberts can also add adept keyboard playing to their résumé. The highlights of the set between some absolutely fantastic stage banter came in the form of the emotional and stunning The Offer Still Stands, the fascinating Put Seven In Bold, Zappa’s technically brilliant Enchidna's (Arf of you) and the musically intriguing Norman. This was music that was opulent in its approach and presentation, whether vocally fronted or instrumental, musically abundant and plentiful and to be quite honest, if it hadn’t been for The Tangent, Godsticks would have been my band of the day.

Conclusion: 10 out of 10

Setlist Godsticks
Not the face
The Offer Still Stands
Put seven in bold
Enchidna's (Arf of you)
Timshel
The continuation of livid
R.R.R.
Norman
Clinical
 

IT
By John O’Boyle

God is Dead proclaimed IT! Four albums in and an unknown identity to my ears, one that will change, another curve ball had been served by the organisers, spicing the days affairs up. Their dark and dystopian musical views, sounding somewhat like Porcupine Tree; the band lead by Nick Jackson delivered a rather intriguing and differing set. The sound was heavier than the previous bands of the day or to come for that matter.

IT

The songs played where catchy, especially God is Dead, Burn Baby Burn and Fighting For Freedom having an almost multimedia feel to their construct, which severed them well and endeared them to the crowd. This wasn’t convoluted or intrinsically complex music, but the narrative was and voyeuristically compelling and memorable, even when the band played Space Cadet a more sedate approached song. A good set from a very interesting band.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

Setlist IT
God is Dead
Killing Me
Space Cadet
Stay Tuned
Car Crash
Burn Baby Burn
Fighting For Freedom
 

Abel Ganz
By John O’Boyle

As ever Abel Ganz took to the stage ready to entertain the audience with their high calibre neo-prog, which was melodic, stylish and downright mesmerising. It is this sort of class that has allowed this band to exist for twenty years or so and still be relevant. Tonight saw the band presenting two songs from the stunning Shooting Albatross album, one from The Danger of Strangers and a new ditty to whet the palette of the audience, although there were some slight sound issues, something that the band did recognise, but worked through affecting their presentation not one jot. Davie Mitchell’s inventive guitar style mixing Celtic tones within the songs highlighted the melodic tones of Stuart MacFarlane vocals, which added to the total excitement of the set. This was a duo that was working in perfect balance. The songs that were played were full of depth and character, that brought memories back of how good Abel Ganz really are live.

Abel Ganz

Denis Smith and Stevie Donnelly held the backline together perfectly, allowing the rest of the bands to build upon their solid foundations. The crowd really loved Sheepish and the adventurous Ventura featuring some rather stunning guitar passages from the sublime Shooting Albatross album, whilst Rain Again just stole their show, this is what the band do, create sumptuous music for all to enjoy. Stalwart of the band multi-instrumentalist Hugh Carter and the boys displayed a rather excellent set that only had one criticism from these quarters, it was far too short.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

Setlist Abel Ganz
Sheepish
Rewind
Ventura
Rain Again
 

The Tangent
By John O’Boyle

The Tangent

As ever the band of the festival was The Tangent with the convoluted and complex take on prog rock, Andy Tillison’s creations, that are intricate soundstages which held the attending crowd captivated, an audience that hung on every musical nuance, every notation played by these four very talented and proficient musicians. Interestingly this is Nick Rickwood’s only second show, but based on the balance of his drumming ability, you wouldn’t have notice.


The band opened up with a very interesting new song Forsaken Cathedrals, which has all the usual trademarks of the band and then some, with Luke Machin sealing his signature guitar sound within the band, which only confirms the excitement that is building about their new album COMM. From here the band moved into more familiar territory offering up the technically sublime Where are they now? with the band in full flight, already warmed up, Andy and the boys totally immersed themselves in their activities, almost oblivious to anything else going on around them, stamping their authority both on the evenings highly entertaining rendition of prog perfection and the whole festival for that matter, truly confirming why this is the band that is being referred to as the best British prog rock around this side of ever.

The Tangent

The Tangent

The heartfelt and emotional Perdu Dans Paris carried on the flavour of the night, high class entertainment, technical wizardry was amazing to watch, played by four humble but gifted musical genius’ , (I don’t use those words lightly either). Sail of Two Souls offers Andy time to breathe, a solo interlude, a song from the Not As Good As The Book album, an interesting choice as it really opened him up to the audience, allowing him to lay bare his soul, no place to hide, confirming that Andy Tillison is no pretender. The band stepped the pace up a gear performing Paroxetine 20mg in all its fine glory and indifference, mirrored the darkness of the moody musical passages, building as it journey’s to its climax.


Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better the band really turned the heat up, the two closing songs of the show, GPS Culture /The music that Died Alone and In Darkest dreams (including After Phaedra), showcased of what the Progmeister is all about. The band interacted symbiotically, creating massive walls of intricate, convoluted and technical sonics, all punctuated perfectly. The After Phaedra sequence is just pure genius. The audience were truly and utterly mesmerised at what they had witnessed, a band that have a spring in their step, playing prog rock that is inventive, captivating, interesting but most importantly unbelievably entertaining.

Conclusion: 10 out of 10

Setlist The Tangent
Forsaken Cathedrals
Where are they now?
Perdu Dans Paris
sail of two souls
Paroxetine 20mg
GPS Culture / The music that died alone
In Darkest dream(including After Phaedra)

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