May 21 2021
The Covid leveller
No, it’s not a song from the new Tangent album or a statement from Boris, just a personal observation of the current state of affairs in general, though more so in my beloved passion for music. This notion began last year whilst listening to Pendragon’s rather wonderful Love Over Fear album. It made me suspect that with little to distract musicians by the likes of touring and rehearsals etc the time and energy was spent more intensely in the writing and recording process. This I feel really sharpened up production, editing and sequencing skills to such a degree that I fear for the future of some recording studios. Unlike so many people who were lucky enough to be furloughed from their jobs retaining most of their income many professional musicians will have been pushed to the breadline and even below. This goes for their support crews too in their many guises. It makes me wonder how many of my favourite artistes and bands have been relying of food banks etc. Not all bands have reached the dizzy heights of the big players of the game with the resources to stay solvent during such a crisis unless like some they have day jobs too. Being as I am a member of a great community of music lovers in the Prog sector, I believe that the deadly virus and the cessation of gigs and public meetings has in some way brought people closer together rather than isolate them. A sense of hope has evolved and the strong want to meet and rekindle comradery lost by such a devastating human experience is something felt my fans and artistes alike. It has made people realise that life isn’t merely that of commerce, it’s about, well, erm, “people! Even the echelons of Prog and dare I say it the more egocentric element of our much-loved genre have come to realise that it isn’t just about recording albums and allowing the proles back stage to touch their cloth (sometimes at a premium) but to engage on a more appreciative level with them and realise that it’s the fans that make it all worthwhile. This has recently been highlighted by football matches and the “canned crowd”. This then is where Covid has been a leveller in so many ways. I honestly believe that being deprived of such adulation by live audiences and the human contact many artistes will appreciate it when it returns (hopefully) though the more accessible bands will merely bask in the contact that they already had. Something for which they are loved for all the more by their admirers. Whilst I often read disparaging remarks by neo-prog dissenters on forums and their likes dwelling as they do on the top sixes 1970’s output, it makes me smile when I here something so bloody fantastic made by the less corporate dependant artists when all through lock down many of the big boys have been sat on their hands relying on product to get them through the pandemic whilst teasing money from their devotees with remixed box sets of tracks not fit enough to release on original albums for which they were intended. The real musicians out there did not fall into this trap, instead they created something new with the resources available. I simply can’t admire them enough for that. New artistes too struggling to make their mark have been a pleasure to watch on Youtube. The playing field may still not be level but Covid has certainly tipped the balanced to the trained ear and the disillusioned. To the bands and artistes who worked hard to get their new music to those who appreciate it during lockdowns I doff my cap. To those bands resting on their laurels and trading on their established names and brand be aware that less remunerated and financially backed musical citizens have kept the genre alive and fresh which is something I would like those so dismissive of modern prog to appreciate. Open your mind good people. To those bands that refused to let the virus and the isolation caused by it halt their creative juices and determination, you have my full attention. I urge you to give them yours. There is a whole new chapter for you all to discover. It offers therapy for the mind and the daring do of being taken off autopilot. Go enjoy!