The Flower Kings, 17 April 1999
Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, Rotherham, UK
By Ian Oakley


I have been a fan of and involved in this type of music "progressive rock" since the early 70s. There are literally hundreds of bands out there at the moment resurrecting this type of quintessentially white European 1970s L.P music.  – Now a very large underground scene held together by the internet and the technology to cheaply produce, distribute and publicize "home recorded" CDs.
However, when it comes to quality control and originality I feel that there are only two bands currently out there that can call them selves truly world class - "Spocks Beard" and "The Flower Kings". These also only seem to be the two bands that are pushing the envelope of  "prog rock"  to truly progress the genre further – Spocks Beard – By bringing back beautiful sing a long melodies / superb musicianship without trying to be techno flash and The Flower Kings by again beautiful melodies and also introducing jazz fusion / room to improvise and even dance within their performance – As a friend said The Flower Kings – Prog with added "PHISH" and/or "ZAPPA"…….

This concert was the first time the band had played the UK since May 1997 and the concert was held in the same location as then The Herringthorpe Leisure Centre Rotherham England. As last time, this was their only U.K concert. The band was brought over by The C.R.S  for which I will be eternally grateful for providing a regular venue for this music. The venue itself is in usual use as a sports hall / gym. – so is quite small and acoustically poor.

Being the only UK date people, including friends and myself, had traveled from all parts of the UK to the event. –(We did 400 miles round trip). However, was initially disappointed that there were still only 170   people in the audience. In addition to this we also seemed to be representative of the average age of the audience (late 30s early 40s) ……. Is this the real state of this genre of music ????

The support band – Parallel or 90 Degs – I will not comment too much on – They were good if a bit uninventive and naοve, passed a hour fine - But I was Waiting for a World Class act.

After an introduction from the man from CRS– "This band are as good as any Yes or Genesis at their peak" I could not agree more………..
9. 30 dead. The Flower Kings took the stage – After a little tuning of instruments gently began then blasted their way into the gig with  There is more to this world followed by a very inspiring Retropolis which just carried me away to that lovely situation where you feel your whole mind and soul is riding on the back of each guitar note – and it carried on that way. There were a few technical difficulties with keyboards / foldback and tuning along the way – but none that spoilt the gig.  I understand that this was mainly due to the incapabiliity between the Swedish plugs and the UK electricity supply. The gig lasted a total of two and a half wonderful hours with The F K giving us at least two tracks from each of their many CDs – Including, I think for the first time live, almost the whole of Garden of Dreams.

For people that only know the CDs – The F .K live sound is a lot looser live with jams of and between numbers and a lot heavier feel than indicated by the CDs.  All the musicians are individually of world class quality and compliment each other perfectly. In particular I noticed how the voice and guitar work of  Hasse Froberg complemented Roine Stolt, with  Hasse taking more of the lead vocals and having the stronger, purer voice of the two and Roine using his more gravelly voice to add emphasis to certain lines and phrases.

The only complaint I would have was that the house PA and the mix was not up to the high standard and quality of the playing – By the end of the concert the mix and volume had reached that "wall of sound state" where all instruments were at equal volume whereas, at least CD wise, Stolts guitar should be the main leading presence – That is what the audience came for..  OK, the PA system was not very good but I would have appreciated less total volume and more thought given to the mix. With the total volume set so high there was no where left to go to bring the guitar to the forefront- However, as the gig was done on a shoestring budget it is understandable the F.K could not afford to bring their own sound engineer over who would have provided a more sympathetic mix.
 I am very loath to complain at all as the whole gig seemed to have been done on a very tight budget – 170 x 10 GBP = 1700 GBP – To bring the band from Sweden – Hall hire – PA – Lights – I know that a member of the audience had actually lent his mellotron to the band – Still I don't know how the CRS did it on the money made from ticket sales ….
I am just so appreciative that the CRS brought the band over in the first place.

I look forward to Spocks Beard on 1st October at the CRS.

Setlist:

There Is More To This World
Retropolis
World Of Adventures
Garden Of Dreams ( Pt 1-10)
Church Of Your Heart
JAM: incl. The man who walked with kings / Circus Brimstone/ Big Puzzle
In The Eyes Of The World
JAM
Garden of dreams ( Pt 16-18 )

Sounds of violence (incl. Bass solo)
The Flower King
Stardust We Are ( Pt 3).

 

 

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