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The Hippodrome, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey
Hippodrome night club in Kingston became host of the first ever Celebr8
Prog festival organised by The House of Progression, whose regular home
is the nearby Peel.
festival, the location chosen was the 2000 capacity Hippodrome night
club; full of pillars, chrome stairways, alcoves, steps to levels a foot
or so higher or lower than the previous one, and lots and lots of
On a busy
Friday night, full of drunk, sweaty, angst-ridden hormonal teenagers, I
can imagine that there's quite an "atmosphere" in there, but I'm yet to
be convinced that a night club is the ideal setting for a live music
gig, let alone a two day prog festival.
big thank you should be given to Jon "Twang" Patrick and Geoff Banks for
even attempting to run a prog festival when so many other events are
falling by the wayside. The bill they put together could hardly have
been bettered for a first foray into festival organisation.
Kicking off the Saturday, a not too shabby 40 minutes later than
advertised (hey, everyone is allowed teething troubles and 40 minutes is
nothing in the grand scheme of things!) was Sean Filkins whose
set included numbers from last year's "War and Peace & Other Short
Stories", the first LP to be released under his own name.
quick changeover The Tangent took centre stage, with Andy
Tillison's synths as prominent as ever. For those who like their prog in
a more classical, almost "old school"
vein (think Yes and King Crimson),
Tangent will not leave you feeling short changed.
are epic and complex, layering synths over guitars and crashing symbals.
Their set included, by way of a sound check, Kool and The Gang's
'Celebration' which was appreciated by the audience, but not as much as
'The Wiki Man', 'Where are They Now?' and 'The Winning Game'.
penultimate act of the first day saw a band who were at the forefront of
the mid to late 80s prog revival take to the stage; Pallas.
Despite last year's release of XXV (musically and thematically a
successor to 1984s The Sentinel), the set consisted of songs taken quite
evenly from the whole of the band's history, including 'Crash & Burn',
'Monster', 'Rat Racing', 'Midas Touch' and 'Violet Sky'.
The headline for the Saturday was the mighty IQ, another band
whose roots go back to the 80s prog and neo-prog revival. Not for them a
foray into their vast musical back catalogue; instead their set was to
be the whole of their 1997 magnum opus Subterranea.
A screen was
placed between the audience and the stage whilst a film was projected
during the opening songs 'Overture' and 'Provider'. Behind it we could make
out Peter Nicholls, resplendent in a white suite, atop a stage upon the
As the track
'Subterranea' began so the screen was raised and Nicholls walked toward
the audience, arms out wide as if to embrace them all. This was to be
the only "Subby"
show in the UK this year and it was clear that many IQ
fans had made the journey to Kingston for this alone.
curfew and the late opening start, at times it seemed touch and go
whether we'd make it to the end, but as it turns out, there was enough
time time for IQ to do an encore consisting of 'Frequency' and 'The Wake'.
great first day, and I'll never forget being privileged enough to see
the Subby show in its entirety. Elsewhere, during the day, the acoustic
stage (a shabby bar area next to the outdoor smoking area) had played
host to Kerry Chicione, Gary Chandler and Matt Stevens. These three
would return the following day, along with Alan Reed.
Ritchie writes: Full marks to the organisers who arranged acoustic
sets in the lull between the main stage sets. I caught a couple of songs
from former Pallas singer Alan Reed's set. He performed 'Begin Again',
his take on his Scottish heritage and a moving cover whose name sadly
escapes me. Certainly worth investigating his solo work further.
Singleton writes: Sunday kicked off with the Dec Burke Band (this time only about
twenty minutes later than advertised, so the organisation was getting
better) before the final ever live performance by Tinyfish
(although new albums may be released in the future).
on stage amongst the band members and between the band and the audience
as they set up and line checked for the final time made the first song
of their set, 'The Sarcasm Never Stops', an even more apt choice than
of the set from their most recent album, 'Big Red Spark', forays were also
made into the two previous albums.
It's a real
shame that frontman Simon Godfrey's tinnitus problems are such that he
feels he can no longer carry on playing live, and all credit to the rest
of the band for not wanting to replace him, but I shall miss not seeing
Tinyfish on stage again.
performance, tinged equally with humour and sadness, but most of all
with great musicianship, was a fitting way to bow out.
Set List: The Sarcasm Never Stops, Rainland, I'm Not Crashing, Refugee,
The Big Red Spark, Driving All Night, The June Jar, Nine Months on Fire,
Wide Awake at Midnight, Motorville, Fly Like a Bird
The next band on stage - Touchstone - are one of my current
favourites, so I'll attempt to rein in my feelings to give you all a
more dispassionate review of their set... were there a few technical
difficulties? Yes. Was the sound not quite as crisp and clear as one
would hope? Yes. Still, they were bloody awesome, and worthy of their
New Blood nomination at the upcoming Progressive Music Awards.
Touchstone are on the ascendancy and rightly so.
as they so often do these days, with 'Wintercoast', the set included songs
from all three of their albums, plus (one of the highlights of the show)
their own unique take on Tears For Fears' 'Mad World'. I'm looking forward
to hopefully catching them again later this year when they do a double
header with The Reasoning.
Set List: Wintercoast, Joker in The Pack, These Walls, Curious Angel,
Half Moon Meadow, When Shadows Fall, Zinomorph, The City Sleeps, Mad
World, Strange Days
Next to take the stage were Magenta who over the years have
slimmed down to a trio (Christina Booth, Rob Reed and Chris Fry) along
with Godsticks' Dan Nelson and Steve Roberts providing the rhythm
section for live performances.
'Glitterball', Magenta took us on a journey through all five of their
studio albums, the highlight for me being the use of the piano section
of 'White Witch' from 'Revolutions' to link between'Red' (from Chameleon) and
'Anger' (from Seven).
ably assisted by the rhythm section, were tight, and Christina Booth's
vocals were as good as I've ever heard her. Without a second guitarist,
Chris Fry is now truly able to show what a great guitarist he is. As for
Rob Reed... what can one say? His keyboard playing has always been
majestic, and he's never been frightened to acknowledge, with a flourish
here or there, the greats of prog who have gone before him.
Set List: Glitterball, Gluttany, I'm Alive, Red, Anger, Demons,
To bring the festival to a close, there could be no better band than
It Bites, early pioneers of the neo-prog revival, who, having tasted
albeit limited early success, split up, and after a suitably lengthy
interval, reformed. Subsequent and multiple personal changes, however,
mean this is a very different line up to the one I first saw in The
Union Chapel some nine years ago.
Again, like most of the artists before, It Bites offered us a selection
of songs new and old taken from their first album in 1986, 'The Big Lad
in the Windmill', right through to this year's 'Map of the Past'.
Even a song
from 'Eat Me in St Louis' made the set list! Earlier in the year, the band
had concentrated on playing songs from the new album, but tonight was a
night to kick off the shoes, settle back and enjoy not only the present
but the past.
the set were old favourites like 'All in Red', 'Old Man and the Angel', and,
as an encore, their top ten hit 'Calling All the Heroes', all interspersed
with newer songs.
started with 'Ghosts' and 'Oh My God' from the 2008 album 'The Tall Ships',
and 'Meadow and the Stream' and 'Last Escap' from their newest album
featured. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed this blend of the old and the
new, and although by the end of Sunday night the numbers weren't quite
what they were on Saturday, the roof was well and truly raised by the
cheers and applause that greeted the encore. A superb ending to a great
couple of days.
Ritchie writes: It Bites set tonight was a radical departure from
last month when I saw them where they played the whole of their new
album 'Map Of The Past'. The set started off with 'Ghosts' and 'Oh My
God' from 'The Tall Ships' album. Only a handful of songs from the new
album appeared tonight including 'Meadow And The Stream' and 'Send No
'Cartoon Graveyard' was the band's single and John Mitchell also
informed the crowd they had just finished recording a pop video for its
release, the idea being to gain airplay on BBC Radio 2. With its jaunty
riff and instant chorus hopefully it can make the playlist.
The moving 'The Last Escape' they dedicated to a fan that was featured
on the Terry Pratchett TV programme on euthanasia.
Fans of Francis Dunnery era It Bites would be in seventh heaven tonight
with 'All In Red' (loving those harmonies), 'Underneath Your Pillow',
'Kiss Like Judas', 'Old Man & The Angel and 'Midnight' all had an
airing. Encore time we even has the band's biggest hit 'Calling All The
Heroes', which needless to say went down a storm.
Set List: Ghosts, Oh My God, All in Red, Send No Flowers, Meadow and the
Stream, Underneath Your Pillow, Cartoon Graveyard, Last Escape, The Wind
That Shakes The Barley, Old Man and The Angel, Midnight, Screaming on
the Beaches, Kiss Like Judas, Calling All The Heroes.
Singleton writes: Overall impressions were of a good job well done by Twitch and Geoff.
There were very few hiccups throughout the festival (and what festival
ever runs dead on time?) and the mix and balance of the acts booked was
downside was the venue itself. I know (from my other work) how difficult
it is to find suitable venues for anything these days, so I won't judge
them too harshly.
understand that with The Peel being their base, they wanted to keep the
festival Kingston based. However, a nightclub that has so many pillars
and staircases to muffle and bounce the sound, along with a rather small
area in front of the stage for the crowds to gather did concern many of
the festival goers.
photographer, I would also have to take issue with the lighting... reds,
greens and blues really bugger up skin tones, especially when it's
either one colour only that's being used.
a first effort, I'd give this festival an 8/10 If you missed it this
year, make sure you clear your diary for next year.
Additional reporting: Jason Ritchie
by David Randall
interview will be available shortly as a
broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, 1 July 2012