Progeny Day 2

Arena, Mostly Autumn, The Enid, Pendragon

Sunday November 16th, 2003
The Astoria, London, UK

By Charlie Farrell and Bart Jan van der Vorst


Day 1  -  Day 2

The second day of the Progeny festival started with Kevin Ayers, who had quite dubiously filled the gap of the Carl Palmer band the day before. As I'd seen enough of Ayers the day before, I decided to skip his performance and arrive later at the venue.
However, the organisation seemed to have learned from yesterday's ridiculous entrance procedures (or listened to the people's complaints) and behold, there was hardly any queuing and they actually waited till everybody was inside before starting with the first band.
Effectively this meant that I had to endure Kevin Ayers' blues-rock once again, but I couldn't be bothered much. What did surprise me was that, as opening act of the day, he got to play 15 minutes longer than the day before, now playing a full 90-minute set. Which, indeed, was pretty much the same set as yesterday as well. Only Pendragon, the headlining act of the day, got to play longer. Mr Ayers must have some close friends in the festival organisation, that's for sure.


Arena
(By Charlie Farrell)

With Clive Nolan playing with headliners Pendragon later in the day, we were treated to the rare appearance of an acoustic Arena concert. While John Mitchell settled down with his guitar, Clive Nolan introduced the set and threatened to recount his collection of Mother-in-Law jokes. Eventually vocalist Rob Sowden joined the other two and we were presented with a fresh take on some tunes both old and new.

While Rob was apparently suffering from a cold, I thought that he put in a great performance in the circumstances, particularly on Don't Forget to Breath from The Visitor. There were also a couple of cuts from Immortal? in the form of Waiting for the Flood and Fridays Dream and Ascension from their most recent album Contagion. They closed with Crying for Help IV & VII, which Clive admitted had earned the band their worst reviews ever - "so they were going to keep playing it". A pleasant and light-hearted way to kick off the dayís proceedings.

Mostly Autumn
(By Charlie Farrell)

After the gentle introduction provided by Arena, the volume suddenly went up a few notches when Mostly Autumn blasted their way on to the stage with an opener of Never The Rainbow. Second guitarist Liam Davison, who had been strangely absent during the first tune then appeared as the band moved into the equally loud and upbeat Caught in a Fold. Heather Findlay looks and sounds so much more confident on stage than she did when I first saw the band a few years ago and that confidence extends to her colleagues as the band is now a very solid and impressive unit with a stock of great material.

This being a festival rather than a headlining set, the band chose to play a selection of "Greatest Hits" rather than concentrating on showcasing the Passengers album. They dipped into their back catalogue to pluck out the excellent, folky-flavoured Evergreen and a little later in the set The Spirit of Autumn Past, showing another facet of the band and giving flautist Angela Goldthorpe an opportunity to shine. In between there were a couple more cuts from Passengers, the ever-present Heroes Never Die and a rousing finale of Mother Nature. Bryan Josh continues to amaze me with his fluid melodic guitar solos and the mix of voices provided by Heather, Bryan and Angela is one that many bands would die for.

An excellent, if unfortunately brief set which was warmly appreciated by their many fans in the audience. Perhaps a little too loud and brash for some delicate souls who prefer their "Prog" to be a little more gentle, but the band were not in the mood to take prisoners and for me, it was the highlight of the day.

 

The Enid
(By Charlie Farrell)

Well I wasn't sure what to expect from The Enid, 25 years on from the first time that I saw them play. However, as soon as Robert John Godfrey addressed the audience as if we were a hall full of school-children, I felt certain that this was going to be a Nostalgia-fest. To their credit, this new lineup featuring the original Enid drummer, Dave Storey, along with two new faces - Max and Jason, presented the new face of the band, whilst tipping its hat to the bands earlier legacy, delivering a well-balanced set which must have pleased the old fans and surprised many of the people in the audience who had never heard The Enid before.

For those who know nothing or very little about the band, they emerged in England in the mid-1970s. Led by Robert John Godfrey, they played very grand, symphonic and heavily classical progressive rock at a time when the country was largely obsessed with Punk and New Wave music. Robert Godfrey dressed and acted like a school master, often wearing a waistcoat with a British flag design, the bandís fanclub was entitled "The Enid Society" and each concert featured the playing of Land of Hope and Glory, during which the audience stood and sung along, in a manner which is reminiscent of "The Last night of the Proms". All things that may have appealed, perhaps in an ironic way, to an English audience, but which at the same time, might appear strange, if not bizarre, to an audience from outside the British Isles.

Their set opened with two tracks from the bandís most recent album, White Goddess while Robert John Godfrey nursed and coaxed along his collection of synths and sequencers, affectionately named "mother". We then heard two much older tunes Judgement and In the region of Summer Stars which were presented as new arrangements that I found to be both delightful and fresh. The manner of Robert John Godfrey's song introductions brought out many a wry smile amongst the audience and during a long song introduction he plugged his merchandise stall, his new record label 'Inner Sanctum' and discussed other matters before finally introducing Sheets of Blue from Salome. He admitted that this piece had been written during at time when he had a "very poisonous attitude towards women", yet it was such a nice pleasant tune that it really didn't seem to hint at all at the underlying story. The finale was, as he admitted, "from our Trance period, but so Enid-ified that it won't offend". Slightly over-long and less interesting than some of the earlier pieces that they had played, I personally thought that Dark Hydraulic made for a very curious set-closer indeed. Then, in time-honoured fashion, the band linked arms, took a bow and left the stage.

Pendragon
(By Bart Jan van der Vorst)

All too soon the weekend already came to an end with Pendragon. Although I'm not particularly a fan of the band, I thoroughly enjoyed their set, which was a well-balanced mix of old and new, along with a couple of rarely played tunes.
The set had a great momentum throughout and the band was determined to make this a special gig, as the set contained many fan-favourites, rather than focusing on their latest album.

The band started strongly with the three openers of their three nineties' albums: The Masquerade Overture/As Good As Gold, Walls Of Babylon and Back In The Spotlight. In between these songs Nick Barrett barely spoke to the audience, as if he wanted to keep the momentum going.

Then, rather early in the set, Peter Gee swapped his bass for an acoustic guitar to play the intro to my favourite Pendragon track: The Voyager. It was quite amazing to watch Gee play during the first half of the song, playing acoustic guitar, bass-pedals and keyboards at the same time!
The next track was another treat: Fallen Dreams And Angels, from their similar titled 1994 EP. Though the song didn't seem to flow very well (lack of rehearsals?) I particularly liked hearing this track live for once.
The band then launched into some of their older stuff, none of which I am familiar with. It seemed they played a medley of some kind, but according to the setlist I nicked after the gig this was supposed to be Leviathan. I don't know, there was definitely something else there, and the setlist wasn't 100% correct anyway, since it showed Schizo instead of Fallen Dreams And Angels.

They just kept going and going, one fast song after another, and at one point Clive Nolan actually walked up to Nick Barrett, asking if he could have a break. It wasn't clear whether he needed a loo break, or that he just wanted to give his hands a rest, but Barrett wouldn't let him have one until after the next song.

Though the setlist showed three songs from their last album, they only played one The Dance Of The Seven Veils. I don't really know the Not Of This World album, but upon hearing this song it struck me how all Pendragon songs seem to evolve around the same chords. At least, The Dance Of The Seven Veils contains a segment which is almost similar to a part in As Good As Gold.
After a slower, acoustic King Of The Castle the set came to a great finale with The Last Man On Earth and Master Of Illusion.
The band came back for an encore and played another song I didn't know, which then segued into the second half of Stargazing.

All in all a great end to a great weekend. I had thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout, the little mishap at the entrance on day one, and the ridiculous decision of giving Kevin Ayers two slots aside. For the rest the festival ran very smoothly. The swapping of the stage in between the bands went incredibly fast and efficient, with the result that no band ever got delayed. Also the sound is worth mentioning as it was very good throughout the whole weekend, for all 10 bands that played. See you again in 2004!

Setlist:

Arena (partial):

Waiting For the Flood
Don't Forget To Breath
Ascencion
Fridays Dream
Crying For Help IV
Crying For Help VII

Mostly Autumn

Never The Rainbow
Caught in a Fold
Evergreen
Heroes Never Die
Passengers
Answer The Question
The Spirit of Autumn Past
Mother Nature

The Enid

Fantasy
Riguardon
Judgement
In The Region Of The Summer Stars
Sheets Of Blue
Dark Hydraulic

Pendragon:

The Masquerade Overture
As Good As Gold
The Walls Of Babylon
Back In The Spotlight
The Voyager
Schizo
Leviathan
The Dance Of The Seven Veils
King Of The Castle
Last Man On Earth
Masters Of Illusion

World's End
Stargazing

 

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© 2003 DPRP