Concert Review Archive

 
Summer's End 2011

Declan Burke, Antony Kalugin and John Sloman, Lazuli, Invertigo, Casual Silence, Day Six, The Tangent, Arena, Concrete Lake, Credo, Headspace, Magenta, Caravan

Friday - Sunday, 7th - 9th October 2011
Lydney Town Hall, The UK

Article By Andy Read, Alison Henderson, John O'Boyle, Jez Rowden and Brian Watson
Live Photos By Neil Palfreyman and Becky Field

Another year and another fabulous festival put on by Messer’s Lambe and Lloyd Jones which was enjoyed by all in attendance. Initially there may have been some disappointment due to a few bands being unable to make it due to circumstances beyond their control, however in saying that the bands that stepped in more than compensated for that contributing to many highlights witnessed.

A full DPRP team attended the weekend and as ever have put finger to keyboard. So sit back, put your feet up and commence reading ............

 

Friday, 7th October 2011

Dec Burke Band
By John O'Boyle

Dec Burke Band Well another year passes and another Summer’s End arrives, a major highlight of the Prog calendar. As ever the opening band of the festival usually sets the tone for the whole weekend and this year that honour was given to the very talented Dec Burke and his band, an honour the band graciously accepted as they entered the stage with large smiles on their faces.

Two albums in, although Paradigms and Storylines hasn’t been officially released yet, the audience were treated to a special preview of some of the songs on the album, three in fact that were fascinating, powerful and well to be honest highly entertaining. In fact such is the belief in their new songs they chose to open the set with the rather stunning Days Like These, the opening song on the album too, material which stands head held high along side the songs from Destroy All Monsters album.

The band worked their way through Signs of Life, Winter to Summer and Sometimes with precision. By the time the band had reached Small Hours they had really found their zone, lost in their own world, delivering fantastic melodies and harmonies like there was no tomorrow, feeding off the audience! The band offered up another new number December Sun, confirming that the new album sounds like it’s going to be something special.

As the band fittingly opened with a new song so they fittingly brought the whole occasion to an end with another Yesterday’s Fool. Dec and co. played their resplendent music interacting like a well oiled machine. The approach was vibrant, each note ringing forth, powerful and melodic, an approach that was highly entertaining and rewarding, which is the beauty of Dec’s music, music that takes you on a wild ride that mixes various approaches together and works wondrously.

Dec Burke Band

The band brought an extra dimension to their music tonight that really enhanced the experience and was enjoyed by all in attendance. All in all a highly rewarding and entertaining set. Dec may have moved on from Frost* and Darwin’s Radio, but be under no illusion it is has definitely been a step in the right direction. This is a band that you must catch live.

Setlist Dec Burke Band
Days Like These
Signs Of Life
Winter To Summer
Sometimes
Small Hours
December Sun
The Last Time
Yesterdays Fool
 

Antony Kalugin and John Sloman
By John O'Boyle

Last minute addition to the festival Antony Kalugin and John Sloman, yes he of Uriah Heep and Lone Star fame presented an acoustic set that consisted of songs mainly from Sundial and Karfagen. Their approach was unusual, Kalugin played keyboards whilst Sloman offered acoustic guitar. Both gentlemen delivered vocals that worked very well as separate identities and also harmonies that worked just as well together. Most of the songs played I wasn’t familiar with, but they were highly enjoyable raising more than a slight interest for me to go and investigate further.

Antony Kalugin and John Sloman

The music as one would expect was proficient and at times exciting, a calming respite after the previous bands electric set. The highlight for me and most of the audience too judging by their reaction was John Sloman’s acoustic rendition of Bells of Berlin that had us all singing along. Apparently these guys only had time to work through the setlist once, which was quite an achievement really and hard to believe judging the quality of their presentation. As ever the entertainment value was high that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Setlist Antony Kalugin and John Sloman
Raindrops
Close To Heaven A Winter Tale
Fading Light
Human Kind
Midnight Train
Bells Of Berlin
As Far As The Edge Can See / Lost Horizon / Watching
The Sun Go Down
 

Lazuli
By Alison Henderson

Lazuli Occasionally, we are all surprised and delighted when a band comes along that defies description in terms of a live performance and all that can be said in conclusion is that you had to be there to see it for yourself. That was definitely the case with French proggers, Lazuli, who were headlining Summer’s End on the Friday night.

For most of the Summer’s Enders present, Lazuli were probably something of an unknown quantity. My only previous knowledge of them was a track played on the online Prog Dog radio show and very interesting it sounded too. But nothing prepared me for a performance as totally original, vibrant, life-affirming and brilliant as theirs.

Where to start? Perhaps it was the band’s visual dimension which first grabbed my attention as for the most part they resemble Lord of the Rings’ elf Legolas’s long lost brothers and cousins with their extravagant manes of hair, exotic beards and prog Goth attire.

So the scene was set for something completely different – and then some! What they created can only be described as full-on soundscapes. They swept us all away to Lazuli-land almost from the outset and entertained us in the most genial, friendly and energetic manner imaginable.

There was nothing predictable or conventional about their music as it combined mainstream prog, folk, arthouse, avant-garde with occasional Arab scales and some incredible rhythmic patterns. Rich, deep and varied were the swirling aural textures they elicited from the most extraordinary range of instruments.

Frontman Dominique Leonetti, with his long pony tailed hair and plaited beard had a terrific impish charm that matched his clear, high register voice - and suited the French lyrics - and a full-on style for both electric and acoustic guitars. His powerful stage presence hid an endearing shyness when he addressed the audience admitting his shortcomings in speaking English.

His brother Claude is perhaps the band’s main talking point. Dark, brooding, bearded and beautiful, a motorcycle accident in 1996 completely robbed him of the use of his left arm. This is probably the cruellest fate to befall any musician especially a guitarist.

However, and he swears this is true, it was after a dream that he came up with the idea for a revolutionary new instrument that combined guitar, synthesiser and a melodic saw which controls a sample and multi-effect by way of a midi system. Resembling a Chapman stick, held in the same upright position and operated entirely by his right hand and arm, Claude christened his new invention the Léode. And it is down to this amazing musical invention that the band has acquired its totally original sonic palette.

Not that the other band members didn’t have a few other little tricks of their own! The visually impactful guitarist Gédéric Byar possessed a superb fluency in technique, which even included employing a screwdriver scrubbed across the strings to make for one more breathtaking effect.

If that were not enough, the swift fingered keyboards wizard Romain Thorel doubled up on cor français (French horn) and even took a turn on the drum kit, while drummer/percussionist Vincent Barnavol also knew his way around a marimba.

Without knowing too much about the contents of their set-list, it was safe to say that most of the compositions played came from their new album 4603 Battlements. Dominique said that one song was about being a prisoner (within walls or without).

Perhaps the most telling moment of all came when a completely enraptured gathering called them back for an encore – and of course, that was never destined to be boring either.

For starters, Dominique and Gédéric crouched down on the floor, their guitars strapped across torsos, watching intently as Romain unleashed a torrent of beautiful flowing keyboard passages, before making his way to the drum-kit stool. Meanwhile, Vincent came to the front of the stage, where he parked himself on what looked like a black box, and started beating out some mean rhythms with his hands as the other three frontmen and stand-in drummer played on. Crowd participation followed. Reader, you really had to be there!


By Brian Watson

Lazuli Fellow DPRP-er Alison wrote shortly afterwards that Friday night openers Lazuli “have rewritten the rules of prog” and it has to be said that they truly made a forceful statement of intent with this stunning performance, the like of which I, and most of the packed out audience, had not seen before.

Lazuli defy categorisation. Not for them airbrushed and generic blandness. They were a bold choice for the festival, but Lambsie’s faith in them was repaid a hundred fold and they delivered a stunning performance to a rapturous crowd.

You want a totally unique, staggeringly creative and truly progressive rock band? You got it.

And I mean unique. Check out the (ever so slightly phallic) Léode. There’s only one of them in existence, and, knowing little about it myself, I’ll hand over to fellow DPRP-er Bart Jan van der Vorst for this mightily useful overview:

It was invented by its player Claude Leonetti, who lost the use of his left arm in a motorcycle accident and thus lost the ability to play guitar. Determined to continue in the music he created an electronic device which is played by sliding the fingers over a neoprene pad. The instrument works pretty much in the same way as the Haaken Continuum fingerboard, which Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater uses, and not entirely surprisingly the sound is quite the same. However, where the Continuum is played like a keyboard, the Léode is held upright like a Chapman stick. The device is hooked to a midi controller and basically any sound can be played with it, but Leonetti mainly chooses to play distorted guitar-like sounds…

As if that wasn’t enough uniqueness for you we have the Warr guitar (like a Chapman stick with 15 strings, played by tapping the fingers on the strings). Oh, and marimbas. Combined with more traditional instrumentation what you get is a sound that’s probably unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. And did I mention that the vocals are in French? OK, so some audience engagement with the lyrical narrative is lost but all in all the vocal phrasing and delivery suits the music well.

If I had to provide you with a general sonic touchstone then it would be the world music and rhythmic influences of Peter Gabriel’s early solo output (pre orchestral wankery) mixed with a healthy dose of Muse / Porcupine Tree symphonic heaviness and King Crimson textural soundscaping.

The band was showcasing new album 4603 battements, which translated fantastically well into the live arena.

Je te laisse ce monde, Le miroir aux alouettes, Dans le formol au museum, 15h40, Les malveillants, L'azur, Saleté de nuit and Festin ultime were all given an outing. I bought the album after the show and have to say the live renditions were perhaps even better, the band’s clear enjoyment of playing live translated into a powerful tour de force.

We also got, as first encore, stellar track Cassiopee, as well as (elsewhere in the set) Laisse Courir and L’arbre from 2007 album En Avant Doute. A final encore, Naif and they were gone. After that performance, and that reception, they will, I am sure, be back.

 

Saturday, 8th October 2011

Invertigo
By Andy Read

Invertigo Speaking with members of the up-and-coming German quintet Invertigo after this, their first ever overseas gig, they admitted they were very nervous before. Expecting merely a handful of the curious for their lunchtime appearance, they were instead greeted by a healthily full hall. Testimony I’d suggest to the interest that has been generated by their impressive debut album and its modern take on classic Prog.

The nerves did show in a very static opening and a singer struggling to stay in tune. However as the crowd warmed to them, so they warmed to the stage and delivered a solid set.

I’m not a fan of lead singers spending the whole show fixed behind a keyboard. When you already have a dedicated keyboardist, then the band may wish to consider whether their singer should be freed to concentrate on connecting with their audience – at least for some of the set.

I really enjoyed the drummer’s wide variety of precision grooves and the easy melody of the guitar solos. The title track from their new album was as impressive live as it is on record, as was the more epic, Special. Three new songs were aired, of which the bouncy Dr Ho dealt with the subject of hair loss.

This is clearly a band able to tackle subjects of great importance to their listeners! InVertigo certainly elevated their rising reputation here.


By Brian Watson

Saturday morning, and the attending masses were still talking about the Friday night. It was left to young German neo-proggers Invertigo to wake us all up and this they achieved with a great little set. They list their influences as Genesis, Yes, Spock's Beard, Marillion, The Flower Kings and Porcupine Tree.

Opener Darkness began with a strident German voiceover, before some lovely keyboard noodling propelled us intro some good quality neo prog. Vocally think Simon Says, Satellite et al. The Night was an atmospheric, moody piece with some nice guitar work, and Night on Broadway saw the band getting into their stride, with some pleasing Lamb Lies Down Genesis influences married to poppier Tony Banks synth stylings.

Waves had a pleasing Big Big Train feel to it, down to the choice of keyboards and accordion. Again, another moody, ambient piece with stabs of sound punctuating it.

Invertigo

Vertigo was moody and atmospheric too. Special kicked off in grander style, with a top quality guitar solo before it was time for the last tune, Dr Ho, which arrived on a swirl of synths and guitar before a big fat bass line finally got the crowd going. Shame they couldn’t have opened with this tune. It’s a real foot-tapper this one, with that classic Genesis sound and a bit of an It Bites Once Around the World narrative feel to it midway through. Best track of the morning. As we would see in 24 hours, the best tack a Saturday or Sunday morning opening band can take is to blow the audience’s socks off straight out of the gate.

Nevertheless, Invertigo are a band to keep an eye out for. An enjoyable start to the day.

Setlist Invertigo
Darkness
The Night
Night On Broadway
Waves
Vertigo
Special
Dr. Ho
 

Casual Silence
By Jez Rowden

With their fifth album recently released Casual Silence from the Netherlands continued the continental flavour of the first session on Saturday.

Casual Silence

Casual Silence


Although their sound was solid, melodic and pretty mainstream it also contained enough epic elements and crunch from the twin guitars of Ernst Le Cocq d’Armandville and Mark van Dijk to keep things interesting.



The large and enthusiastic crowd were supportive and despite looking slightly ill at ease to start with singer Rob Laarhoven soon settled into a nice groove and grew in confidence with warm vocals worthy of note.



Midway through the set bassist Eric Smits cryptically announced that the next song would be from the final Casual Silence album and it soon transpired that this was indeed their last show as the band had already split.



Nevertheless they put on an entertaining show and appeared quite emotional at the end. Keys for this show were handled by a short-term replacement whose name I did not catch but he did a good job given limited time for preparation. Overall this was an enjoyable set by a band that no longer exists. Shame.


By Andy Read

Casual Silence

Dutch melodic rockers with a progressive touch, this sextet has actually been around for a number of years. Their debut album was released in 1996. Despite another three albums of original material, an acoustic covers album and a live DVD, they seem to have struggled to raise much of a profile overseas. Like their predecessors, they were playing to a largely new audience here.

Casual Silence

Casual Silence started off as a band with three lead singers from three other groups. Thus little surprise that there were some really nice harmonies and vocal performances to be enjoyed in their confident set. The music is heavy but not in a metallic way.

Casual Silence

There’s a bit of symphonics, a bit of NeoProg, but it’s not highly progressive. It may be the sort of music where the melodies take a few spins to seep into the memory, but whilst there was very little wrong with their hour on stage, equally there wasn’t anything I saw or heard that made me want to investigate further.

 

Day Six
By Jez Rowden

To round off the session we got another Dutch band, Day Six, with their enjoyable take on prog-metal. The 4-piece, featuring their new bass player – none other than Eric Smits, now ex-Casual Silence and having a busy afternoon – are led by guitarist/singer Robbie van Stiphout, a bundle of hyperactive energy who makes an excellent focal point, getting the crowd going with his jerky antics. At times looking like a refugee from Green Day he clearly relished his time on stage, pulling faces and leaping around. Luckily he also backed up the entertainment factor with a strong voice and some excellent guitar.

Day Six

The material offered real quality and variety in a set that didn’t drag at all, the band putting in a faultless performance. Faultless that is until a power cut wiped out their backline two-thirds of the way through the set. No worries though as with coins duly popped into the meter power was restored and Day Six finished in style coming back for a well deserved encore. Having had little time to rehearse with Smits they had run out of material so elected to play again a number from early in the set which was a good choice as I had liked the Hammond-effect keys deployed on it by Dolf van Heutgen and, not being familiar with their material, benefitted from a second hearing.

Day Six

Having played the Fused Festival at the same venue earlier in the year Day Six impressed enough to be asked back to play for a slightly different audience. This proved to be a shrewd move as the band went down very well and would have been my band of the day if The Tangent hadn’t have been waiting in the wings. With two albums out to date including 2010s DPRP recommended The Grand Design the band, completed by Daan Liebregts’ drums, certainly gained some new fans at Summer’s End and are one to watch for the future.

 

The Tangent
By Alison Henderson

The eagerly awaited appearance of the latest incarnation of The Tangent could have easily been subtitled “The Prog Sorcerer and His Apprentice”. In the event, it was two young apprentices and a well-seasoned professional who joined Tangent main man Andy Tillison on stage.

The set list was one of the main talking points beforehand and seemed to remain pretty fluid until the last moment. However, it turned out to be a totally absorbing and compelling mix of old and new Tangent, designed in no small part to show off the prodigious talents of 22-year-old guitarist Luke Machin and his newly recruited Concrete Lake band-mate Dan Mash who had the rather onerous task of filling the bass berth left vacant by Jonathan Barrett, while Tony Latham bedecked in a splendidly loud, printed shirt was on drums.

It began with the rarely played The World That We Drive Through, which Tillison explained was inspired by the cover of Yes’s Tales From Topographic Oceans created by Roger Dean. He said that though it was like entering another world, if we opened our eyes, that world was literally all around us.

Shimmering keyboards and swelling drums began this journey through this world seen in familiar landscapes. All eyes of course were on the younger contingent and from the outset, it sound as though they had been playing the Tangent music for years.

A Crisis In Midlife finally unleashed the power of the apprentice. From the funky first flashes, Luke carved out the most delicious slices of guitar heaven, making full use of his armoury of pedals. Most striking was his full-on confidence and poise as he coaxed some extraordinary sounds from his Strat, which incidentally he plays left handed even though he is naturally right handed. This is a by-product of his watching and mirror playing Francis Dunnery while in his extreme youth. It was all too much for the sorcerer Mr Tillison who managed to dislodge his glasses mid-track.

There followed a true comedy moment as Andy revealed the secrets of working with younger musicians through divulging the contents of two carrier bags. In the apprentice bag, there was hair gel, deodorant, Pampers baby wipes (which got a huge laugh) and a condom.

In the sorcerer’s bag, there came a variety of nefarious items such as a can of Deep Heat, a rubber foot and a pair of pliers, allegedly for tightening up one of Tony’s prosthetics.

The beautiful Perdu Dans Paris from Down and Out in London and Paris was one of the showstoppers of the set with its wistful dreamy quality. The combination of gorgeous electric piano, reminiscent in places of jazz pianist Bob James with the lightning fingers of Mr Machin as they worked further and further up the fretboard was totally haunting.

So what would be the choice track from COMM? The new album is choc-full of innovative new songs and it was the epic, flagship song Titanic Calls Carpathia that came to life with some gorgeous swirling seascape keyboards that morphed into a fantastic, dynamic guitar motif and on into intricate echoey sounds.

The song was also another chance to showcase the immense talent of Dan Mash before Luke and Andy embarked on a musical question and answer session with keyboard leading guitar, Luke producing all manner of tricks from his guitar inventory.

Andy then had a few words to say to the editor of a particular prog rock magazine present and the current practice of featuring bands from 40 years ago on its front cover. He pointed to Luke and wondered when in the future he would qualify for being considered for the front page spread – all done very jovially of course.

And so the set concluded on a song very personal to Andy - again from Down and Out. Where Are They Now, he explained, was about a time when he was at a desperately low point then suddenly he met both Sally, his partner and manager along with Luke and Concrete Lake.

This gorgeous song ebbed and flowed - and contained the immortal lines “Can’t find the future, cos it finds you” - which perfectly sums up where he is now. There is wistfulness and anger in this song but you can never doubt the sentiment behind it and why it therefore exists.

Some might say Tillison’s voice is the weak point in The Tangent and he too would readily admit that. But with songs so personal and lyrics which shoot straight from his hip, his role in the songs is as a narrator not as a singer. Vocalists in prog should have different, individual voices so with Peter Hammill his greatest influence, the main man should relax and continue telling his stories in his own special way. Putting a Greg Lake or a John Wetton on vocal duty would simply kill the uniqueness of the band’s sound.

Not content with this brilliant microcosm for all things prog, the band came back to encore with GPS, another slick piece of Tillison observation about our over-dependence of electronic devices.

This was a brilliantly constructed set from a cornerstone of the English prog scene. Tillison follows in an honourable tradition of great mavericks, the path being led by Dave Brock and Robert John Godfrey, who have stuck by their principles and always created their own personal brand of prog, never mind the changes of personnel which resulted.

Tillison has now discovered his own future through finding two young stars in the ascendant and this great performance lays down the foundations for a new and totally exhilarating new Tangent era.

Setlist The Tangent
The World We Drive Through
A Crisis In Midlife
Perdu Dans Paris
Titanic Calls Carpathia
Where Are They Now
GPS Culture
 

Arena
By Jez Rowden

Arena Firstly, I have to say that there were many in the hall who appeared to enjoy Arena but I was not one of them. Despite having been familiar with the band for a number of years I have, perhaps strangely, never actually heard them and prior to the show was looking forward to seeing what they could do. What a massive disappointment; the material did absolutely zero for me and remained resolutely stranded in uneventful. I’ve never had a lot of time for Clive Nolan’s playing and my opinion hasn’t changed but Mick Pointer was so much worse than I ever anticipated – and I didn’t expect much. 30 years after appearing on Marillion’s debut album he appears to have learned nothing and displayed only the most basic of chops. I wondered to myself if the reason he was in the band at all stemmed from the fact that Nolan couldn’t find anyone else who owned a drum kit - horrible. My boredom and sense of anguish was only lifted by the remaining band members. New singer Paul Manzi was OK and seemed to be enjoying himself and while John Jowitt is always worth seeing and possesses real class and quality you can’t help but wonder what he is doing wasting his time in Arena. He must have been bored silly playing this dreck and could have phoned it in. The only time during the whole set that my ears pricked up with any interest was for guitarist John Mitchell’s soloing which was fabulous as always. I just wish that Jowitt and Mitchell would find a better outlet for their enormous talents, such as any other act they’ve ever played with, and let this sad charade quietly disappear. How this band were allowed to headline the afternoon session with their one dimensional material is a mystery to me. As stated, many present appeared to be enjoying Arena's set so the above is just my opinion on the day.


By Brian Watson

Is it me or is the hall slightly less full for Arena than it was for The Tangent. Answers on a postcard…

I would genuinely like to tell you which songs Arena played, but my subsequent requests for a setlist fell on deaf ears. I can tell you, though, that with the exception of new singer Paul Manzi none of them looked as thought they were actually enjoying it.

Asking around my DPRP colleagues afterwards, feedback included the fact that the show felt ‘flat and one-dimensional’.

So, fresh from their photo shoot in a bus shelter come Arena, with said new front man, all big hair and stadium posturing. An excellent singer very much in the mould of, say, Ian Gillan. He’s got a great voice, and seems to be a genuinely nice chap, spending time with the fans after the show.

I’m a big fan of the first two Arena albums, with quirky vocals by Paul Wrightson that sound ever so slightly like (a.k.a. identical to) one Derek Dick, with whom Arena founding member, and drummer Mick Pointer fell out. So to speak:

One occasion indicated all too clearly a weakness in the (Marillion) line-up. On 16 March 1983 at the Reading top rank, the band launched into ‘Charting the Single’, but somehow it didn’t seem quite right: it transpired that Mick was playing the beats the wrong way round…An honest mistake maybe, but Mick’s days were numbered from that point on…

…As the tour came to an end, so did an era as band and management decided to part with its remaining founder member. While Fish cheerfully admits his role as knife-wielder in chief, the decision was not his alone. ‘The person I went to for 100% confirmation was Steve Rothery’, says John Arnison. ‘He told me, sorry, he’s going to have to go’. This was not only following the incident at Reading: while the others had all improved substantially over the months since, in their eyes Mick had not. Comments Pete, ‘fingers were pointing at the rhythm section, but Diz had been a better bassist than Mick was a drummer, and Diz had already been sacked’…

(Jon Collins: marillion/separated out: the complete history 1979-2002)

These first two albums were quite therapeutic for Mick Pointer I think, like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy committed to vinyl. As Collins quotes MP in separated out:

I was playing Hammersmith Odeon one night and two weeks later I was standing in a dole queue…It took me an incredibly long time to realise how much of an effect it had on me. I had my dream taken away from me, then I watched them go on and achieve more.

I thought that their last album, 2005’s Pepper’s Ghost was terrific, albeit with a different singer (Rob Sowden, who I also liked a lot). Tom de Val (who didn’t like it) wrote, back then:

…Now, however, they seem to have switched from trying to gain new fans to preaching to the converted, especially if the lack of much obvious promotion of this new opus is anything to go by (DPRP didn’t get promo copies of this one)...

We’re not getting promo copies of their impending new record, either, which comes six years after the last, the band fearing piracy. Arrr! Pieces of Eight. Polly wants a cracker. And so on.

Messrs. Nolan, Jowitt and Mitchell will be known to most of you. A list of the ‘projects’ they have appeared on would take up most of my word count. They are fantastic musicians. But therein lies the rub. Call me cynical and what not but that’s what I’m getting here. The feeling that this is just another project, another product to release in the ‘marketplace’. Like Cillit Bang.

The people clapping are not fans, then, but consumers. If the product tests well there may be more products, but that decision will be taken purely on monetary grounds. Some brand loyalty remains but the thinned out crowd attests to their fading glory. As Marillion play to over 3000 at their conventions Arena play to less than 300 at Lydney Town Hall. That’s gotta hurt.

 

Sunday, 9th October 2011

Concrete Lake
By John O'Boyle

Well what a turn up for the books, another last minute addition to the Festival, a decision by the organisers that hit pay dirt. Concrete Lake along with Lazuli were the bands of the weekend, make no mistake of that. Such was the impression that they made, they have been added to 2012’s The Fused Festival line up by Huw Lloyd Jones.

Concrete Lake

Concrete Lake The band was an unknown quantity even though two of the members play in The Tangent. In all the years I have been attending this festival I’ve never seen the venue so full so early, I’ve never witnessed an opening act receiving such applause and to cap it all an encore, this was a stunning 45 minute set for the young Turks who were just happy to be playing, as the band stated, “that this was their first proper gig”. Luke and co. hit the floor running with the finger picking opening Intro through to the ending notes of Reach Out, confirming that they have a very bright future in the music world.

This event offered a platform for the band to display their talents, let the music do the talking, music that was inflected by a heavier approach than The Tangent. We are talking the Pain of Salvation end of the genre, technical prog metal, funk, jazz and various other influences, music that had soul, groove and that final ingredient pizzazz. The audience as I, were agog at what they were being presented with, the band symbiotically manipulating their chosen instruments with dexterity as if they were actual extension of their physical being and personality, unpretentious and humble offerings. The whole set had so many highlights it was unbelievable with Venga a very personal song of Luke’s being one of the aforementioned highlights as was Andy Tillison guest appearance on Chains. The beauty of the set though was the humbling approach the band took, unbelieving of what they were witnessing as a response. Luke is a talented musician, who has a bright future in the music world make no mistake of that, as does the rest of the band. You seriously need to take note and watch out for these guys.

Setlist Concrete Lake
Intro (The Fallen)
Eyes Pt.1
Venga
Cubixstro/Chains
Beast
Encore: Reach Out
 

Credo
By Alison Henderson

Due to some of its band members being refused visas to the UK, Sunchild had to pull out of their Sunday slot at Summer’s End. So in such a situation and at short notice, it takes a very special band to come to the rescue. In this instance, what did the organisers do? They called for Credo ten days beforehand with the band actually managing to squeeze in a rehearsal in-between.

But on the day, they were faced with a second challenge. Opening the proceedings on the Sunday lunchtime was Concrete Lake, who had earned themselves an encore and heaps of praise so it was Credo’s (mis)fortune to follow on immediately after them.

However, like the well-seasoned proggers that they are, they rose to the occasion magnificently, delivering a tight, well-judged and entertaining set, starting with the pacey, upbeat Round and Round.

Larger than life frontman and singer Mark Colton, wearing one of his understated shirts – this time in tie and dye orange, loomed large from the offset, dashing around the stage like a man possessed, occasionally standing menacingly at the edge of the stage glowering at the audience.

They hit the ground running with Staring at the Sun, the stand-out track from their excellent current album, Against All Reason, written by their star axeman Tim Birrell which is all about global warming. Tim took a starring role with lots of tasty riffing in a song which has a ridiculously infectious chorus and hookline.

Credo

Then they played “The Game”, a rather barbed song about the way the band has been treated by certain individuals, some female judging by the lyrics. Starting with a fantastic synth intro courtesy of Mike Varty, drummer Martin Meads, who looked as though he was for once enjoying himself, added a huge punchy beat along with Jim Murdoch’s chunky bass.

The unique selling point about Credo is they are very much the Everyman band of prog. Their appearance mirrors that of the audience – five ordinary guys with an extraordinary musical talent, who sing and play about issues on which most of us would have an opinion.

Mark’s powerful vocals are never better served than when he is singing about something which enrages him. To this end, Insane, also off the new album about the futility of war and our ability to stand by and watch the consequences, showed the true depth of his vocal expression against the undertow of a flowing melody.

After such raw anger came the softer and more acoustically-rooted Ghosts of Yesterday, a wistful, nostalgic song about returning to a place after a long time and finding that some elements have stayed the same. So the main emotions shared through the lilting melodies are of incredulity that so little has changed. A gorgeous song this is indeed with Tim indulging in a little slide guitar in the mix.

Rounding off their thoroughly entertaining set was another big song Cradle to the Grave, one of the tracks from Rhetoric which is a searing, no holds barred power ballad which tells the story of a loveless marriage. Again, Mark’s ability to get under the skin of a situation and deliver it in a song was the hallmark of this excellent song.

Credo is a brilliantly balanced and classy band that is a stalwart of the English prog scene. Bearing in mind the late notice the guys were given beforehand, they delivered a terrific performance and got a well-deserved rapturous reception as a result.

Setlist Credo
Round N Round
Staring At The Sun
The Game
Insane
The Ghosts Of Yesterday
From The Cradle To The Grave
 

Headspace
By John O'Boyle

Headspace Damian Wilson and the boys, Headspace, took to the stage presenting their music to the participating audience, a selection of songs both old and new that where of a very high standard, being their first live show in a few years and the only one in 2011, but one would not have known this listening to the band. Whether the music rotated in the high energy rock market or the more sedate and emotional approach, the whole presentation was very rewarding, to be quite honest one would not have expected any less from Damien and the band.

From the opening song Never Let Go through to the closing and to be honest rather stunning Invasion the band had set out on a mission, keyboardist Adam Wakeman and guitarist Peter Rinaldi were stunning, precise and very effective sonic passages that were punctuated very effectively by bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Richard Brooks.

Fast paced musical interaction was the order of the day, high energy, high octane, something that the audience soaked up in abundance, one minute technical virtuosity the next chugging riffs, all delivered with perfect balance.

Damien Wilson engaged with the audience like they were his long lost brothers and sisters, being the natural showman that he is, showmanship of the highest order; it may have been a diametrically opposed approach to that of Credo, but it was no less powerful or stated, something that everyone lapped up, thoroughly enjoyed and complimented the day’s proceedings.

Setlist Headspace
Never Let Go
Same Life
Fall of America
Soldier
Die With A Bullet
Sober
Wasted
In Hells Name
Invasion
 

Magenta
By John O'Boyle

This was Magenta’s second show, after their hiatus, a return that was welcomed by all, as the band had been away for far too long. Amongst their ranks this time out was Steve Roberts and Dan Nelson from Godsticks who offered a solid backline for the band to do what they do best, ENTERTAIN their audience, a process they seem to find so easy.

Magenta

As ever Rob and Chris put their feet on the accelerator and Christina guided the band through the ten song set. This was musical prose of the highest order, melodic and sophisticated, even with the newer songs, songs that slotted well within the musical framework that their fans all know and love.

Magenta It may have been a daring step to open with Glitterball which was received well by all, but by the time the vocal phrasing of Gluttony kicked in the audience were bought, attentive and participating in the fun the band were creating. I’m Alive with its thought provoking lyrics just dragged everyone further into their world as did their magnificent rendition of Revolutions.

The sheer sonic beauty of Anger was offered up, acoustic guitar dalliances that emotionally filled the room, which was eventually matched by the rest of the band as they eventually participated giving the whole song so much more depth.

Another new number, Guernica brought everything back to earth with its powerful and sober subject matter being for me one of the highlights of the set. It may have been slightly rockier than the previous numbers, although there were acoustic inflections from Chris as he switched between guitars. I can only imagine this will be a song that will become a staple set number.

Home’s Tower of Hope was up next seeing the band slowing things down finding Chris and Rob in the zone, working together as ever. Metamorphosis the set closer and another firm favourite had the band working out as they weaved its magic leaving the audience baying for more. Who were Magenta not to indulge everyone with an encore, offering up Pride bringing the set to a fitting and perfect closure.

It didn’t matter whether the songs played were short or long, time just seem to fly, the band as ever supplied some absolutely stunning music, pompous, melodic and majestic, being melodic prog of the highest order.

No matter how many times I see the band or hear these songs live they just indulge you creating their own unique personality.

Setlist Magenta
Glitterball
Gluttony
I’m Alive
Revolutions
Anger
Guernica
Towers Of Hope
Demons
Metamorphosis
Encore Pride
 

Caravan
By Jez Rowden

The all-British Summer’s End Sunday ended with the highly anticipated appearance by Caravan who strolled on stage to a rapturous reception with a very relaxed air, all dressed in black and looking quite sharp! Despite the grey hairs they are clearly still in the pink (ouch!) and when they commenced with the double whammy of Memory Lain, Hugh and Headloss from For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night the still large crowd were enthralled and hanging on every note. Recent addition Mark Walker brought a more youthful element to the drum stool and drove the band along nicely, sad though it was that original drummer Richard Coughlan’s poor health has made it unfeasible for him to continue with the band. Mainman Pye Hastings was in fine voice during a set that featured a great mix of classic Caravan with a couple of more recent numbers thrown in. As well as filling out the band’s sound with his wonderful viola and flute Geoff Richardson did most of the announcements and between song chat with a good line in wit, particularly when relating the tale of the ubiquitous unauthorised breakfast item. Long-time Caravan associate and ex-Camel keyboardist Jan Schelhaas provided some lovely jazzy touches and flourishes in his tasteful and understated style while Jim Leverton nailed down the bass, adding additional vocals when necessary. The playing was spot on and the material the perfect way to end such a fantastic weekend of music; quirky, idiosyncratic and wonderfully evocative. The selections included a good chunk of In the Land of Grey and Pink as it celebrates its fortieth (how many?) birthday and the high point of the set was a superb rendition of Nine Feet Underground. There is more to this band than simply living off past glories but the nostalgia instilled by their set was palpable and when I looked around the hall there were smiling faces everywhere, the whimsical Caravan sound leaving myself and seemingly many others feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

Encores? You betcha, with everyone calling for more they had no choice and were called back twice giving us I’m On My Way and Love To Love You before disappearing for good. I managed to snaffle up Geoff’s (inaccurate) set list at the end of the show; it’s so reassuring to see the side notes regarding his choice of instrument for each song in turn, particularly Golf Girl – you just don’t see “viola / spoons” on set lists often enough! This was a nostalgic and easy going way to wrap things up and getting a legendary band of this quality and with such a history was a real coup for festival organisers Huw and Stephen. Only the night before Caravan had sold out London’s Shepherds Bush Empire and here they were playing a hall in a little town on the banks of the River Severn – we were not worthy.

Setlist Caravan
Memory lain Hugh
Headloss
Why Why Why
Golf Girl
Smoking Gun
The Unauthorised Breakfast Item
Nightmare
The Dog The Dog He's At It Again
Fingers In The Till
It’s Not Real
In The Land Of Grey and Pink
Nine Feet Underground
I’m On My Way
Love To Love You

 


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