Concert Review Archive

 
Winters End 2010

Eliza Tale, Lee Abraham & Band, Mermaid Kiss, James Hollingsworth, Moon Safari, Magenta, Sanguine Hum, Crimson Sky, IO Earth, Touchstone, Galahad

13th - 14th March 2010
The Space Stroud, Gloucestershire, The UK

Article By Alex Torres, Jez Rowden, Ken Truman, Andy Read and John O’Boyle
Live Photos Neil Palfreyman

Saterday, 13th March 2010

Eliza Tale

Eliza Tale
By Andy Read

Having had a sneak preview of their forthcoming debut album, I was rather disappointed at the last minute loss of Prog Metal newcomers Andonova from the line-up. Hopefully, when they’ve found a new singer, they’ll have another chance. Thankfully Andonova’s replacement, Eliza Tale (official website/ myspace), ensured that at least one Gloucestershire band was able to appear on home turf. Very much in a classic rock mould, they provided a good warm up for a healthily full hall. With all three members of the band swapping vocal duties, there was enough variety and energy to maintain my attention and they received a respectable reception for their efforts.

Lee Abraham & Band
By Jez Rowden

Lee Abraham Second act of the day is Lee Abraham & Band (official website/ myspace) , unsurprisingly led by the former Galahad bass man of the same name. The rest of the band features ex-Big Big Train singer Sean Filkins, Chris Harrison (guitar), Gerald Mulligan (drums) and Rob Arnold (keys). This is their first gig and the decision to play the highly rated Black & White, Lee’s third solo album, in its entirety from start to finish is a good, if possibly rather daunting call. The first thing to note is the obvious energy and enthusiasm of the band members who, once they get going, are clearly having fun. For a first gig the guys put on a great show with Harrison, singing along to himself throughout, particularly impressing with some fine soloing. Filkin’s performance is powerful and he’s an engaging frontman. Lee’s 6-string bass is central to the sound but doesn’t take over. This is much more than a vanity project built on self-promotion and everyone has their chance to shine. Mulligan drives the music along nicely and Arnold bulks out the sound and adds some accomplished solos. I had not heard the band before but no matter, as it made for a very strong first listen; Neo with a metallic edge in the up-tempo sections but with energy, emotion and restraint where required. The set was well appreciated and I hope this band stays together as I feel that they will develop into a very accomplished live unit.

Mermaid Kiss
By Andy Read

Mermaid Kiss Regardless of how you choose to define progressive rock, this rather unique sextet, Mermaid Kiss (official website/ myspace), would probably sit some way outside of that definition for most fans. Having said that their inclusion on the bill and their warm reception showed how broad and inclusive a church progressive rock can be. Personally I just love something which brings a bit of variety and challenge to a day-long Prog festival - and where else would you get to see two flutes and a cor anglais on stage? Apparently a rare full-band outing for this double female-fronted act their set offered a mixture of acoustic subtlety mixed with rockier and a handful of progressive moments. With two albums and an EP to their name their music is very much inspired by the traditional and folk genres. In founder member Evelyn Downing they have an engaging front woman, ably supported by singer and flautist Wendy Marks. The band was tight and provided an ever-changing background to the vocals. The unusual combination of instruments and ever-changing rhythms and styles should be enough to interest progressive fans whose tastes lie on the more folky edge of the spectrum. Having sampled their music before the festival, I was a little nervous as to how well they would be received. I needn’t have, as they got one of the warmest responses of the day. I was enchanted from start to finish.

James Hollingsworth

James Hollingsworth
By Andy Read




Something else a little bit different, but in a different way! Hailing from Bristol, James Hollingsworth (official website/ myspace) was playing his own headline gig in the town later in the evening. As he was in town anyway, he agreed to do a short mid-afternoon festival acoustic set. The in-between song banter may go down well with a new age audience but could come across as a little too self-indulgent and off-the-wall at a Prog festival.


The frilly white shirt was a little over-whelming too! However James Hollingsworth plays a darn mean acoustic guitar and knows his way inventively around his pedals. He’s an energetic and animated front man and has a fine set of vocal chords. His music was one of the weekend’s highlights.

Setlist James Hollingsworth
Improv
Way Down South
Release
Still Lights Up The Rain
Faster Than Light
Mothership

Moon Safari
By Jez Rowden

Moon Safari A good number of attendees were at Winter’s End specifically for this first U.K. performance by Sweden’s Moon Safari (official website/ myspace) and they did not disappoint. The band arrived on stage in a relaxed manner, unphased and simply going about doing what they do best. This was the first time I had heard their music and was blown away by how this young band handled the dynamics within their music. Most striking of all are the marvellous harmonies arranged by keyboardist Simon Åkesson which at times were simply breathtaking. It appears that all of the band could sing lead and the combinations of 2, 3, 4 and 5 part harmonies were perfection and the best live vocals I have heard from anyone. The lead vocals of Åkesson and Petter Sandström complement each other nicely, Sandström’s 12-string acoustic guitar adding greatly to the quieter passages but being drowned out somewhat elsewhere. Lead guitarist Pontus Åkesson put in some superb soloing with fine support from the rhythm section of (the exceptionally tall) bassist Johan Westerlund and drummer Tobias Lundgren.

The music is very upbeat with a distinctly Scandinavian feel common to a number of bands from the region and drawing on a strong folk music tradition. There is a sunny vibe that is infectious and the whole crowd is pulled in by the universally excellent performances. Most of the material is taken from their last album, 2008s [blomjlud], and as a result of this performance there are now certainly more people waiting for the soon to be released follow-up. Hi point of the set and indeed the day came at the end when the band re-arranged themselves around a mic at the front of the stage and performed an exemplary rendition of the a capella opening track of [blomjlud], Constant Bloom. A magnificent way to round things off receiving a well deserved storm of applause.

Magenta
By John O’Boyle

Saturday night at The Space in Stroud was the place to be for one of Prog’s live illuminati, who go by the name of Magenta (official website/ myspace). From the outset Christina and the boys as ever did themselves proud, offering a high powered high octane live set, playing songs from the Revolutions, Seven, Metamorphosis and Home albums. After a technical hitch at the beginning of the show where Dan had issues with his bass during the first song, Magenta’s tour de force kicked in to entertain a crowd of people that had high expectations, and the band delivered. From the word go Chris Fry as ever played his heart out with his fluid and flashy guitar work, making it look all so easy. The crowd appreciated Chris’ dexterity and applauded his guitar solo’s time after time hanging on to every note he played, changing between acoustic to electric with the blink of an eye, truly a master of his trade. Dan bounced around the stage like he had been plugged into the mains socket totally lost in the moment. You wouldn’t have guessed that this was to be his last show playing with Magenta, Christina half jokingly commented that she didn’t want him to go, and after tonight’s show you can certainly see why.

Magenta

Rob’s keyboard work was fantastic never staying still for a moment, almost like a wannabe front man. This is a man that created this beast, and we can only thank him for that. Singers within this genre usually fall into one of two categories, either having a great vocal range or are good looking. Well people Christina covers all those options and has great stage presence too. As she weaves her way through songs like Gluttony, I’m Alive and White Witch, (during which a montage of pictures of Dan were displayed), she just oozes talent, the crowd absolutely mesmerized. Even her stage banter about Dan being a Fanny Magnet, telling Chris that tweaking her nipples would not improve her vocal range and ultimately introducing the penultimate song, ”as the arse end of Metamorphosis”, proving that this is a band having a great time. As always though, all good things come to an end, and sadly that included tonight’s show. This was a memorable show with Dan certainly leaving on a high and the band taking some time out from the live arena to record a new album. I have seen this band live several times now, every time they just get better. To be perfectly honest I can’t for the life in me understand as to why they aren’t bigger than they are?

Setlist Magenta
Speechless
Gluttony
Demons
Lust
The Visionary
The Ballad of Samuel Layne
King of Skies
I'm Alive
Anger
Metamorphosis
Pride

Man and Machine/Warning

White Witch

Sunday, 14th March 2010

Sanguine Hum
By John O’Boyle

Sanguine Hum
This was an interesting band that opened up day two of the Winters End festival. Sanguine Hum (official website) a quartet from Oxford played consisting of Matt Barber, Joff Winks, Paul Mallvon and Brad Waissman, a band who I am unfamiliar with, played some complex ensemble work building some interesting soundscapes. Their music was both engaging and interesting in approach and had the audience paying full attention to what was going on as they twisted and turned. Watching these guys proficiently play their challenging music was a joy to see and you certainly got the impression that they were not afraid to experiment, musically reminding me of Zappa / Beefheart in places, but yet keeping a sense of originality. Tonally the music was warm especially the sound of the Fender Rhodes, and there was some exceptional guitar work from Joff Winks. As a group they were very cohesive and entertaining, challenging the listener to enjoy what was being crafted. For those who didn’t see Sanguine Hum’s set, you did miss something very special.

Crimson Sky

By Ken Truman

Crimson Sky Bristol-based Crimson Sky (official website/ myspace) came on stage to a comparatively large and eager audience who were keen to see this up and coming band. Announcing the absence of their keyboard player “who was off having a baby”, they commenced what was to be a powerful set, determined not let the gap in their sound spoil the event. Guitarist Martin Leaman played with power and passion, his eagerness to make up for the lack of keyboards evident in his excellent performance. Clive Lambert’s rumbling bass and Ali Woodman’s slick and powerful drumming underpinned the music with enthusiasm and flare. And then there was Holly Thody, what an excellent singer and front person she is. With a formidable voice and strong stage presence (nothing to do with her evocative dancing of course) she gave a powerful confident performance that she evidently enjoyed. Most of the music played was from their album Misunderstood, which is a blend of strong melody, soaring guitar and symphonic keys. Obviously we did not get the keyboards, but on the basis of this performance, I can’t wait to see the full band in action.

Crimson Sky

By Alex Torres

Their album Misunderstood is one of my very favourites from 2009. The fact that they produced such an enjoyable performance with the huge handicap – for their music - of playing without keyboards is a testament to the quality of their songs, as well as to their gutsy performances on the day.

Setlist Crimson Sky
After the rain
Turn it up
The Sea
Misunderstood 11
Seasons End
Things die
Sleep that burns
Misunderstood 111

IO Earth

By John O’Boyle

IO Earth There were a couple of reasons for me attending this festival; IO EARTH (official website/ myspace) was one of those reasons. I last saw them at the Summers End Festival in 2009 where they torn the place up. On anticipation I wondered as to whether Dave and the guys could do this again and you know what they DID. Their set was made up from tracks from their debut album, of which might I add was in my top 5 albums last year. No pressure then. From the outset Dave Cureton and the guys knew what they wanted to achieve and how to do it and boy did they deliver. From the first chord Dave’s enigmatic guitar playing had so much heart and soul, you almost felt it breathe and caress you as it intertwined with his supporting cast of musicians, and to be honest it was his guitar playing that stole the show. In saying that though this really was a case of no one person being greater than the sum of all the parts. Claire Malin or as Dave described her, “The Eye Candy”, added depth to the whole affair, and to boot was a very adept vocalist having great stage presence. The highlights vocally for me were Claire’s version of Come With Me and Home. WOW it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The rhythm section consisting of Richard Cureton on drums and Marc Williams on bass who kept perfect rhythm and timing, playing what seemed to be some very complex passages. The music was layered on many levels courteously supplied by Adam Gough’s orchestration and somewhat in appearance humble keyboard playing and some absolutely fantastic wind instrumentation. This was true Prog Nirvana. IO EARTH live sound was solid really bringing to life their songs, setting the standards for the rest of the day Dave’s stage banter was really funny and even playing a bit of C.C. Rider for his mother, after telling a story about how she had requested him to play some Elvis whilst travelling to the show. This was a band that was not short of confidence, talent or material.

IO Earth

By Alex Torres

Ken Truman’s album review for DPRP was spot on – what an extraordinary band! Classical to heavy metal via funk and various other points in between, with time to squeeze in the odd jaw-dropping melody. Very good indeed!

Setlist IO Earth
Storyteller
Smoky Wood
Home
Come With Me
The Creation
Light & Shade
Sun is goin down
Harmonix

Touchstone
By Alex Torres

Touchstone Joint-headliners Touchstone (official website/ myspace), playing the penultimate slot, drew what was probably the biggest crowd of the Sunday: clearly, they have a big following. Interestingly, of all of the bands playing that day, they are, arguably, the least progressive. Their sound is based on straight-ahead rock, laden with catchy riffs, which made for a good live atmosphere as the audience often joined in, clapping along to the beat.

The progressive element in their music comes, in the main, from occasional keyboard arrangements that go beyond the norm: this element suffered from the fact that Touchstone’s sound was the worst of the day. Every other band was clear; they were not. They perhaps made the mistake of going too loud (although, having said that Galahad were also very loud, but crystal clear) and the sound became “muddy” – also perhaps as a result of the pounding, booming sound from the bass drum marking out the beat – and, crucially, it lacked sufficient definition between the instruments. As a result, the subtlety from the keyboards was largely lost, as was the effectiveness of the harmonies between Kim Seviour and Rob Cottingham: both are crucial aspects of the band’s sound. Without these elements, what was left to enjoy were the catchy riffs and rhythms of songs such as Curious Angel, Mad World and Wintercoast. It was enough to get them a rousing reception from a partisan crowd - but they could have been much better.

Touchstone

Galahad

Galahad (official website/ myspace), which is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year, closed the festival. By the time they came on the crowd had thinned – many fans having left early for home – and there couldn’t have been as many as one hundred present. This lack of enthusiasm could have affected the band, especially after the double-blow of, first, a muted response when they took the stage and, second, a bizarre incident during their opening number (a new song) when Dean Baker’s keyboard didn’t work and the band virtually froze – Neil Pepper (bass) and Spencer Luckman (drums) playing a simple holding rhythm – for what must have been nearly one minute whilst Dean‘s frantic investigations, interspersed by puzzled shrugs to his colleagues, eventually revealed that the dastardly keyboard had not been plugged in to the electric mains!

Galahad

Problem solved, Dean then launched into a fabulous classical “intermezzo” and, from then on, the band was inspirational, led by a consummate and very theatrical performance from front-man and vocalist Stuart Nicholson. What a presence! He commanded the stage and held the audience, which had quickly warmed to the band’s performance, in his grip with a first-class display. The singing was superb, whether soft and gentle during sweet, melodic phases or belting out with emotion during climactic moments. Despite reaching greater heaviness during some sections of their music than Touchstone, the sound was always crystal clear, with perfect definition between all the instruments and Stuart’s vocal. The result is that Galahad delivered a fabulous set of progressive rock drawn from their entire history, which included two new songs. For me, theirs was the performance of the day: the only pity was that there were not more people there to witness it.

Links
Neil Palfreyman

Winter's End Official Website

The Space Stroud

 


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