Sunday, 23rd November 2014
't Blok, Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel, the Netherlands
Article and Videos by André de Boer
and photos by Jordy Rietbroek
So it was time to get a balanced set of extremely interesting British progressive rock bands to the European continent.
On one side the choice for a solid prog band with a highly acclaimed new album out was on The Gift from London,
a brand new Southampton band by the name of A Formal Horse with only one EP out was
chosen to represent a young and renewing direction in progressive rock on the other.
Would it collide or would it match, we’ll see at the end of this sunny Sunday afternoon.
Speaker Anthony from Progfrog announces the first band, asking the audience not to talk at silent passages in music.
Thank you for that!
A Formal Horse
A short intro to this four piece band. Although A Formal Horse has only one -self titled- EP out,
they already have some quite impressive stage experience in the UK.
The band also played the recent Resonance festival with splendid reviews.
Most songs of their set here at ‘t Blok originate from their EP of course.
And I was very curious how convincing this fabulous little album would sound like in a live setting,
especially because Francesca Lewis’s live vocals are not the same as those on the album,
recorded with Emily Tulloh who left the band.
To my surprise the band also played some great brand new songs that will appear on their next EP,
out in the beginning of 2015.
Not everyone present seems to be grasping for breath listening to this band.
Me being a member of the very excited part, it was clear that the other part of
the audience had a bit of trouble digging the progressive view A Formal Horse has on creating and playing music.
Sometimes raw with sudden changes to a lovely jazzy vocal approach, and back again,
plus other renewing elements. I think this is what makes A Formal Horse a great band and
A Formal Horse will go from strength to strength.
People might need time to change and recognise the sheer beauty and performance of the compositions.
And of course tastes differ, fortunately. One thing was clear anyway,
Francesca’s voice -and many people agreed on that issue- exceeded expectations.
Add the impressive bass by Russell Mann, fantastic guitar by Benjamin Short and drums by Mike Stringfellow.
That and the carefree performance made this a great experience.
Setlist A Formal Horse
To The Beach (And Not Back)
And now for a double setlist with The Gift.
First playing songs of their latest album Land of Shadows and after a short break
playing a big chunk of their first and epic album Awake and Dreaming.
This is where the crowd got united. That was easy to see.
And I can say for myself that I was even most impressed with the second part,
the mid ship of the epic Awake and Dreaming album. What a beautiful piece of music,
the band had the warm-up first and Mike Morton was singing from the heart.
The encore again was a beautiful song taken from their latest album, which sold very well afterwards,
called Walk Into The Water.
Setlist The Gift
Intro tape: 'I Sing Of Change'
Road Runs On (intro) leading to Too Many Hands
The Comforting Cold
Awake And Dreaming (45 minute suite in 3 parts with storytelling in between)
Little Red Rooftops
Dark Clouds Gathering
The Carpeted Corridors
The Dance Of Denial
Word Of Mouth And Heart
No One Came
The Turning Of The Tide
Awake & Dreaming
Walk Into The Water
With the handover to the Gift of the concert poster neatly framed by the venue as a gift,
we parted from a wonderful night, sorry, afternoon, with awesome music and a great atmosphere.
A lovely afternoon with a more than happy audience, a contented crew and satisfied bands made this one to remember.
Considerable album sales of both bands reflected this impression.
The bands did not collide but complemented each other.
And, needless to say, the atmosphere of the venue -with free cold and warm snacks served during
the shows- completed the British Prog feeling. Many thanks to the Progfrog team and Graham Harris to make everyone,
audience, bands and organisers feel so very welcome.
Be sure to follow on the new albums both bands are working on,
A Formal Horse even had to leave before the end of The Gift’s show in order to be back in time for recordings.
I am sure there will be great albums to be enjoyed next year.
PS: Listen to the DPRP Radio British Prog LIVE special!
That radio show hosted by Andy Read will play some beautiful songs, recorded at this very concert,
along with interviews with the bands and exclusive new material!
Broadcasted on Progulus Radio February 18 at 18:00 GMT
and available for streaming and download (show 133) a day after that on the DPRP website.