As the chill of winter is beginning to make its presence felt and darkness descends upon the land, those of a certain age grow their hardy feathers and brave the cold evening air to pay homage to the gods of Prog who in their twilight years pedal their nostalgic wares with aplomb. Hey, I’m not knocking it in any way as I have nothing but admiration for them. I was recently fortunate enough to see Genesis before they were stricken by the cursed Covid and got the sense that this really is the beginning of the end for such an institution we know as Prog. As sad as this may sound it is also food for thought that the second wave of Prog born in the early 80’s is also steaming towards the finishing line at a rate of knots I care not to think about. Having reached the age where (to quote Billy Connolly) “I am starting to make noises when I stand up or raise myself from a seat” I constantly marvel at the agility of some aged rock/pop/Prog artists and admire their tenacity for putting on shows that can make grown men tearful.
Such events however can become too repetitious to stage annually with very little to define them from the previous years show. It is testament to how seriously some fans worship their chosen Prog god and even in their advancing years they are willing to travel many miles from their home at often great expense and of course run the risk getting Covid. Just how important the music and those who play it is to them is a wonderful thing! With this in mind I personally decided to give the annual Genesis revisited gigs so expertly played by Steve Hackett and accompanying minstrels a miss. Not because I don’t enjoy his playing as much as I used to or any such thing, it’s just that the ratio of his own music to the Genesis revisited part of the show is something I need a year out from. With two thirds of Emerson Lake and Palmer no longer with us and Phil Collins walking to his chair on stage using a walking stick it’s a bitter pill to have to swallow that the milage left in the classic Prog live music and events days are numbered. Some sprightly and others burned out the toll of their success etched upon their faces and in their failing voices it may be time for such bouts of nostalgia to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home where toilet facilities are on hand without the que of folks of a similar age who need to relieve themselves of the overpriced alcohol bought at the bar on the way in. This is born out by artists like Fish who did the sensible thing (up to now) and retired gracefully keeping his limelight confined to his weekly Facebook Live and an appearance on gardener’s world.
The enlightened amongst us see more milage in festivals like Summer’s End, HRH Prog and the Fusion events where some classic Prog stalwarts appear on the same bill as upcoming bands giving them a platform to share as the outgoing Meister’s give way to the incoming artistes who for the best part have youth on their side in comparison. As a musical style there is no shortage of talent to keep the more traditional format of Prog alive for a while but we as people born into a certain era have to admit that for many the clock is ticking and we must celebrate the greatness of the legends who gifted us the most enjoyable events of our lives. For the many, myself included, Prog is timeless much like classical music on which a lot of it was based and an element of our lives that we will take with us to our graves. Looking at the current music scene and the mobile device culture, it dawns on you how lucky we have been. Prog on dudes!