I remember having a conversation with Steve Petch one evening at work in the late Summer of 2010, we were discussing the idea of presenting a Prog Music evening to help promote his new website. The original idea, if I remember correctly was to have a couple of bands playing and some recorded music between acts.
Today, 26 March 2011, I witnessed the fruition of this conversation. The (1st) Progmeister Festival, a full day event featuring six acts most of whom are accomplished recording artists for the almost unbelievable admission price of £15, that’s £2.50 per act.
I arrived at The Studio at around 14:00 and the first thing I noticed was the sound, it was very clear, loud but never overpowering, this was the standard for the whole of the day. Glacier the first band of the day had started their set. There was some great guitar work going on in their songs. My personal favourite from their set was ‘The City Gate’ a longer atmospheric piece with several tempo changes, the sort of prog I enjoy. Their two vocalists complemented each other very well and their songs were concise and not overblown. It’s the first time I have seen Glacier and I intend to make sure it’s not the last
After a short break of no more than 30 minutes local band MOG took to the stage with their entertaining mix of music and theatre complete with a semi gothic narrator who unveiled to us the story of Jack the Vicar, A prog opera? Definitely a band to look out for.
Another short break then Combination Head were onstage and they unveiled a selection of material from their new album Museum, as well as a older material and a version of America by The Nice for Steve, which took me back a few years. A great band that play classic prog with a very modern edge. Thyrotron and Turn me down, being two outstanding examples. Highly recommended.
Next up were John Hackett and Nick Magnus who added a touch of class to the event, providing a gentler but no less powerful set. I don’t think you could call their music ambient, but it does take you to a higher place if you are willing to listen. Their performance of Hammer in the Sand was the highlight of the day for me. As well as an excellent unrehearsed performance of Howl the Stars Down, from Nick’s album Children of Another God featuring a vocal by Tony Patterson. During their set you could have heard a pin drop such was their hold over their audience. I recon many of the audience must have been with me in that higher place. Wonderful stuff.
How Manning, the penultimate band of the day all got on to the small stage I’ll never know but they did, all eight of them. They provided the now very busy Studio with (in their own words) a set of songs about the sea and death. My personal favourites being The House on the Hill and Ships. The sheer range of musical styles within their repetoir had the audience enthralled during their performance. I for one will be checking out their back catalogue.
After a slightly longer break So/Gabriel made their presence felt with the dark iconic introduction to Watcher of the skies. Vocalist Tony Patterson made his entrance sporting the famous batwing headdress. The choice of material was wide and varied as you would expect, the highlights (for me) being Mother of violence, San Jacinto and Here comes the flood. I had to leave early after a brilliant performance of Sledgehammer but what I had seen was a band of accomplished musicians playing the music that they and prog fans worldwide love. A must see for all Genesis/Gabriel fans and a great ending to an excellent day of music.
Praise should be given to the sound crew and to the staff at The Studio. The stage management was excellent no overlong breaks between act. A big round of applause should be given to Steve for enlisting such a very eclectic and interesting lineup of acts. For all the hard work put in to make this day so great. And as several of the artists stated, for having the insight to present The Progmeister Festival.
J W Godbluff 2011