On my way to the Night of the Prog Festival : Part 1
by Joris Donkel
This year the sixth edition of the “Night of the Prog Festival VI” will take place, once again on the Loreley stage high above the village St Goarshausen and the Rhine in Germany.
This atmospheric open air stage has impressed many artists over the years and several live concerts have been released featuring a concert at this particular stage, like for instance the famous video cassette by Marillion many years ago.
It was only at the third edition when I became the wise idea to undertake the longer trip to this part of Germany to experience 2 days of only prog bands. And I wasn’t disappointed and even regretted much not having done this two years earlier.
The name of the festival is rather misleading since first of all it gives the wrong impression the festival only lasts 1 night while instead it goes on for 2 (in 2009 even 3) whole days and secondly it sounds very much alike the notorious Night of the Proms concerts that take place in various countries. Naturally this isn’t a coincidence, but a well thought-off promotional act.
So, since 2008 I’m a regular visitor of the Night of the Prog festival and since 2009 also active as a journalist to cover this festival for DPRP.
But it has become more and more difficult to financially break even with prog concerts. The financial crisis has had its impact also here and since the audience for these concerts is already pretty limited, a set back on that will definitely have a sincere effect on the way organizers can break even, let alone make a profit. Several festivals have already seized to exist or had to book bigger and therefore more expensive bands in order to still attract more audience.
The organizer of the Night of the Prog festival, WIV Entertainment lead by Win, didn’t actually change much though, since this festival always had an headliner of name that attracted a considerable number of additional spectators on top of the die-hard prog fans. For instance a few years ago this was Roger Hodgson (of Supertramp) and by the time he came on stage (for only an acoustic show even) the audience had doubled! This year this probably won’t happen because headliner Dream Theater is not so widely known as the more radio-friendly afore-mentioned Roger Hodgson.
Clearly this year the festival counts on the more progressive hard-rock lovers to come from far for the exclusive show of Dream Theater, for the first time in Germany with their new drummer Mike Mangini. But also German prog legends Eloy who reformed again a few years ago will attract some extra people.
This festival has always honored the classic German prog bands and put them on the bill to re-introduce them to a wider audience. Old names like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Central Park were discovered by an audience that were not in the prog scene yet when these bands first appeared on the scene. The same goes for some English bands like Twelfth Night, Three Friends (Gentle Giant light), Asia and The Enid that played here in the past years.
In all the years I have visited this festival the weather Gods apparently approved it since apart from some minor drops and the one massive shower during the Pain of Salvation concert we’ve been blessed with an ideal weather, sunshine, warm and dry. Even last year when the festival had to be moved to September we still could walk around in T-shirts until darkness fell over the festival ground.
This year the festival is back to its traditional spot on the calendar in early July and I do hope the weather will once again be favorable to the festival even though we seem to have already enjoyed this year’s summer in April and May!
Looking at this years bill I already have a lot to look forward to. 11 bands in 2 days and again not a opportunity to leave the festival area for a longer period without running the risk to miss another outstanding or memorable performance. Although I must say that Moon Safari cancelling their appearance here is a big disappointment! Their new album ‘Lover’s end’ provides lots of opportunities to bring another impressive performance to the stage and gain a lot of new fans. Their replacement Vanden Plas was of course a result of a last-minute decision by Win and it’s therefore not so remarkable that they operate in a whole different area of the prog scene, a less appealing one to me that is.
This appears to become the year of the prog metal; it mainly are the more heavy progressive rock lovers who will be treated to a fine selection of their favorite bands with the likes of Dream Theater, Riverside, Threshold, Haken and Vandenplas.
And also Anathema, Martigan and Sky Architect will be appreciated by this segment of the audience leaving only Eloy, RPWL and IQ as the attractions for the more classic and neo-prog orientated visitors. Still, anyone with a broad interest in music and prog in general will find something of interest with any of the bands.
And so it will be with me as well; I can fully enjoy some guitar violence and any hard rock orientated progressive outing is fine with me.
In a few days I’ll have a look ahead and see what is coming to me.