Saturday, 29 March 2014

HRH PROG2 Part-2 (Or 6 go mad at Hafan-y-Mor)

2 blogs in one day, that's a bit much isn't it? Well. quite frankly no, not until the usual unusual has been done!

The trip to Hard Rock Hell Prog-2 at Hafan-y-Mor was most definitely a Fellowship of the Stick event, including our Mascot and mighty leader, Fender, there were seven of us and all Corona's as well!

When we go off to any festival or event, it's never just about the music, it's about friendships and having fun, the journeys there and back often turn into epic adventures.


Miles upon miles of tedious motorways
Eventually gave way
To far more scenic vistas
As we detoured ‘off route’
In search of dinner
But the pub we sought so hard to find
Didn’t open until five
Despite what the Good beer Guide might say!

But the landlord pointed us in another way
He directed us to another local pub
With fine real ales and delicious grub
Right at the end of a long, long lane
On the banks of the river Dee
What a treat lay in store
For Kevin, Chris and me

We could not believe our eyes
At the size of the steak and ale pies!
Complete with chunk chips and peas
Served up by lovely northern lasses
Eager to please
Even though (As it so prevails)
We had crossed the border into Wales

Outside a bride and groom
Escaping from the party room
Posed for pictures in the rain
All too soon we were on the road again
But at least there was no more motorway
For now the roads were A
Up, up, up, over the hills
Winding our way through the clouds
Until the rivers ran the other way
The right way as far as we could see
And like us they were heading towards the sea!

Off to Hafan-y-Mor
And a rendezvous with Tim and Jo
Hey ho, hey ho, off to HRH Prog we go

Thursday Night
The caravan well and truly christened with our presence
All unpacked, snacked and pre-gig drinks
It was off up the hill to prog the night away
With Sankara, Jump, Synaesthesia and Credo all set to play
The down to the other venue to rock out with La Paz & Spin
And back for Bacon and egg sarnies at 2 AM
But we had met ‘Fragrant Karina’ & her mum and her ‘Fairies of the night’
What a start, it smelt like fun, oh yes we were alright!

After a good but chilly night’s sleep
And an early morning stroll to the sea (For me)
Chris was on ‘Full English Breakfast’ duty
Cooking up a feast for Kevin, Tim, Jo, himself and me
Before we set off to Starbucks for coffee and to wait for Peter
Who had rung to say that he was on his way
The Custodian were OK
That they’d only just formed, they didn’t need to say
We warmed to the crazy tight instrumental rock of the Physics House band
And we just couldn’t miss those lovely lads, Luna Kiss
Peter duly arrived, having survived his drive
I missed Shattered Skies, taking a snooze break
While the others went off to see Graine Duffy and Lucy Zirins
But I was back for Chimp Spanner and The Pineapple Thief
We were all back together by the, what a relief
Focus rocked and bored us in equal amounts
But The Flower Kings were of course what counts
And after the excesses of Thursday
Our day two came to a close, ah, welcome sleep, peacefully!

Another good night’s sleep and no hangover to get over
A woodland walk to the sea while Chris did his breakfast thingy
Then Kevin, Tim and Jo, went off to the hills you know
Looking for sheep to worry and mountain views
While Peter, Chris and I chilled out to Genesis, Yes, Led Zep’ and IQ
And we 2nd breakfasted unlike Hobbits, not food but booze
By the time the others came back we were somewhat ‘relaxed’

2nd breakfast!

Today, Fender came out to play
September Code from Greece were good
Deepexus did not appear which meant Crimson Sky played a longer set
Then Purson and Panic Room and by far the best yet, Hawklords
We missed Arcane Roots for Jo tempted us away with food
Jacket potatoes and curry and we were in no particular hurry
To catch The Enid
Headlining was Fish, the ‘Big Man’ from Scotland
He held the audience in the palm of his hand
What a performance, what a show
Kevin and I stayed on for Solstice
I’m so glad we did, sublime ethereal rock
What a way to end a perfect day.

Breakfasted and packed we had to leave
A time of sad but fond farewells
Anyway, we’ve booked up for next year
And the day was by no means done, what fun!
Stopping off in Shrewsbury
For a lunchtime meal with Kerry
Stopping off at Bedford Danny’s Bar
To catch the best band of the weekend by far
Roadhouse and ‘our’ Mandie
And Keith and Sally and the gang
Now that’s what I call a journey home!

Our good friend Mandie G of Roadhouse

Now it is a well known fact that we now have the perfect excuse for anything, no matter how bizarre, it's easy, Fender MADE me do it!


“Come on try that funny drink
There’s really nothing to it”
I did and I promptly fell asleep
But Fender made me do it!

“You can wear outrageous clothes
And to the world say, Screw it”
I did and they all laughed at me
But Fender made me do it!

“You can dance like the best of them
Come on, come on jump to it”
I did and I looked like a total prat
But Fender made me do it!

“Go out in a kilt I dare you
And let the wind rush through it”
I did, it did, and what a sight
But Fender made me do it!

“Go on just have another pint
You’ll easily get through it”
I did and I was so awfully drunk
But Fender made me do it!

“Go and chat to those blokes over there”
I did but I think somehow I ‘blew’ it
Strange blokes with bears are too scary
But Fender made me do it!

Even the ducks said "Fender made me do it!"
“Go out drinking in a onesie
Even if you can’t undo it”
I was warm and moist for several days
But Fender made me do it!

“Lasses love interesting blokes with bears
See, I told you so, I knew it”
Now she’s latched on like she’s my long lost love
But Fender made me do it!

Of all the excuses in the world
There’s one with no possible counter to it
Anything is acceptable
If Fender made you do it!

Even Luna Kiss (The band) can say it!

Well, that's just about it, my earlier blog is all about the bands and music, but this was where the fun was and anyway, Fender made me do it.

All writing, poems, and some of the photographs are mine, hence copyright G. Meaby 2014 etc. etc. But the main photo credits go to Jo, Kev, Chris (Not seen Peter's yet!), what a weekend, what a festival, what a blast.
Cheers me dears, until next time.
Grant - March (Only just) 2014


OK, so here goes, it's taken a while and HRH Prog2 lies back a week in the past now, but what memories!

This blog is going to be in two distinct parts, this part, aptly named Part-1, is a semi serious look at the bands I saw, a few pictures,and comments.

Part-2 will follow, that'll be the off the wall The Fellowship go to Hafan-y-Mor, but, as I promised some members of some bands I'd mention nice things about them when I eventually get around to writing this blog, here goes;

Thursday night kicked off with a Prog Quiz, which sounded like fun but unfortunately the business of arriving, checking in, finding the caravan, unpacking and eating just sort of got in the way!

Musically, Thursday night kicked off with:-

Nice to see Sankara again, I'd not seen them for a couple of years and they were a great choice for the opening act, they really got Thursday night off to a flying start.

Next up were:-

Jump put on a grand show, I'd forgotten just how good this band are, they set the bar for the rest to follow and boy oh boy were we in for a surprise when the next band took the stage.

OK, now the 'Prog' had really started, these relative newcomers Synaeshesia on only their 2nd 'high profile' gig did somewhat take our breath away, well worth seeing, which you are likely to if you go to any of the really big prog festivals this summer.

The headliners for Thursday night Prog (You have to be aware that there were in fact three distinct festivals going on, Prog2, AOR and Blues), was one of my favourite bands of this genre, Credo and by heck were they on form, they did not disappoint.

Credo in full flow
Playing a number of songs from their extensive back catalogue and from the last two albums, I sang my head off to 'Staring at the sun' which is for me, one of their finest and probably best known tunes.

After Credo I wandered down to the AOR / Blues venue to catch the tail end of La Paz and to see Spin play thier brand of Greendayish type of pop punk while enjoying some late night frolics with the fellowship, oh well, it had been a good Thursday.

Friday kicked off musically with:-

The Custodian
Apparently they had not long formed, had few practises, I must say it didn't really show most of the time but did we really need to know that? Onwards and upwards, and OK, "This is Prog Jim, but not as we know it" became somewhat of a catch-phrase.

Nothing quite prepares you for what, or rather who, came next, the strangely named, Physics House Band, these youngsters are far too talented and with their instrumental crazy keyboard led match rock meets prog meets heavy rock meets jazz rock mixed up craziness at an energy level that would kill most mere mortals we were enthralled and exhausted by the end of their set!

The Physics House band

The next band had spent hours flyering the whole festival, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if they'd taken time out to flyer the whole of Wales! I bet they flyered their route there from home!
Anyway, here was another band that I knew, i.e. w.r.t. their music having seen them last year at Cambridge Rock Festival, it was those lovely lads, Luna Kiss.

Luna Kiss
Luna Kiss are one of those bands it's hard to bracket, they tend to appeal to many different fans, sometimes a bit 'proggy' sometime more indie, alt rock certainly and I can highly recommend their debut album 'Echoes of Sound' and the current EP 'Conjure and Sin', if enough people download the new single from I-Tunes it may even make the charts! They put on a consummate performance despite the occasional battle with the technical set up that almost every band seemed to face and i must say their rendition of the theme tune from 28 Days Later, with the very cheeky intro, "If you like this it's ours, if you don't it's someone else's", just like the film, scared the living c**p out of me, nice one boys!

By the time Shattered Skies came on I too was shattered and needed to take a break so I missed them, coming back in time to catch the 2nd instrumental rock band of the day:-

Chimp Spanner
Chimp Spanner were excellent despite last minute line up changes due to illness, it didn't show, they certainly rocked my afternoon up a notch.

We then came to that point that should really happen to anyone who goes along to any decent music festival, yes that moment when you are going to see a band you have never seen before and were really looking forward to seeing, for me the first of these was The Pineapple Thief and wow! I fell in love with this band and have subsequently raced out and bought several albums, figuratively speaking, I did it all on the Internet!

The Pineapple Thief
No pictures of the next band as I wandered in and out to get food, more beer and chat, it was Focus and yes they are still a great band, but I really have seen them so many times over recent years it was nice just to pick and chose and pop in and out and enjoy other parts of the festival and the people and what was going on all around.

We than came to the second of the bands that I'd always wanted to see and had never seen before, this time those legendary Swedes, Flower Kings and that was it, I was in proggy heaven, they delivered and after them I just couldn't face any more music so missed Deadly Circus Fire and went off to my bed happy.

Flower Kings
And that was Friday!

Saturday began with The September Code from Greece, a great band and it's always good to make an exciting new discovery:-

September Code
No, the next band on the bill were another I'd really been looking forward to but, due to illness, sadly Deepexus could not appear, which gave the next band, another I know well, Crimson Sky, a significantly longer than expected set to play, a space they filled with ease:-

Crimson Sky
Sandwiched in between Crimson Sky and Panic Room were another band I'd not come across before, Purson, yes, the afternoon was very much a FFB afternoon and that was OK by me.

Purson also suffered somewhat from technical problems which they overcame in a very professional manner as they delivered their lovely melodic music to our waiting ears.

On then to one of my favourites, Panic Room, I never tire of seeing this band, they are just so good at what they do and if you listen to nothing else by Panic Room, get hold of a copy of 'Skin' one of the finest albums for years.

Panic Room

This was shaping up to be an epic afternoon, an epic day, and epic festival, OK, now we wander off into Space Rock, is it prog? Who cares, I certainly don't, I'm a lifelong Hawknerd and who was up next, the mighty Hawklords:-

I am convinced that the spirit of Bob Calvert has actually entered Ron Tree, Ron becomes Bob when he's singing the Calvert era Hawkwind numbers and when he is reciting poetry, oh yes, we are a cultured lot us proggies! Hawklords delivered one of THE sets of the festival as far as i and many i talked to were concerned, but, gosh, there was more to come!

I was sad to miss Arcane Roots but the promise of home cooked jacket potatoes with chicken curry won! Never mind we were back in time for the Enid, enough said, the place was packed, no chance to get any pictures and anyway, I'll say it, I know the Enid are so beloved etc. etc. and yes they have made some fine albums, I quite like 'In the Region of the Summer Stars' and 'Invicta' but very little in between so yes I was there, I listened, I enjoyed about 20 minutes of the entire overlong set.

And now we come to the high point, the headliner, another that strangely I had not seen before and was so so looking forward to, the 'Big man from Scotland' himself, Fish:-

A couple of oldies from the Fish Marillion era, many from his extensive back catalogue and of course from the acclaimed 'A Feast of Consequences' album, gobsmacked is not the word, Fish was absolutely brilliant, if I had been anywhere else but here I would and could have gone home happy but no, I was staying to the end for the closing band, Solstice:-

I am so so glad I stayed on, fighting off the tiredness of the late hour (Early morning), most of the crowd had drifted away after Fish so that left a small but intimate audience for Solstice who also turned in one of the gigs of the festival, not bad going for a band that's 'been around a bit' but by all accounts their new album is a must so that's another to add to my ever growing list.

So, in a nut-shell, was HRH Prog2 worth going to? A resounding yes, so much so that I'm already booked up for next year!

Cheers my dears and thanks to all the bands, all the lovely people we met, The Fellowship for being such good friends, the friends we saw there, the new friends we made along the way.

As Arnie said, "I'll be back" in the new future, with 'The Fellowship goes to Hafan-y-Mor', until then,
March 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014

About Time Mr. M. Get your Bones Moving!

"It's about time Mr. M" I told myself, "To get out there and get your bones moving".
It seemed like weeks since I went out to a gig, any gig, in fact the last one was the previously blogged Jesus Hooligan gig and the 28th February saw me once again heading into Hitchin to Club-85 for another evening of extremely varied music and of course, the main reason for going apart from to escape from what has been for me personally a couple of horrible weeks was in fact that a certain Mr. Stuart O'Connor was playing one of his long awaited local gigs.

Tonight was another four act event showcasing the diversity of the local music scene, and, for a change, as I was out on my own (They do let me out unsupervised sometimes) this was not a Fellowship outing, so, here follows one of my rare, and fairly straightforward, reviews!

First up  up were young Stevenage Punksters Young Minorities, they actually draw their musical influences from the very diverse tastes of each member of the band yet still manage to create that lovely raw punk feel that had me reeling back to the 70's, only a couple of covers and mainly their self penned material was played, for me "Caffeine Girl" was the stand out song, all in all a good opening to the evening.

Young Minorities open the evening

Next on were a band who are making quite a name for themselves, not just locally (Actually they are from Essex) but in the various rock / metal / Alt magazines, Trash Monroe, female fronted, excellent rock, it's hard to pigeon hole them or pin them down to a specific genre and that's the way they like it so I'm told, all I can say is that it's the way I like it too, this band are well worth dragging your own bones out to see should you have the chance.

Trash Monroe

Trash Monroe

Trash Monroe

So, two good bands, very different, so far so good but it was just about to get better, incredibly better, in fact, as I said at the start of this blog, the whole reason for my being here this night, was the fact that the next act to grace the hallowed boards of 85 was the amazing Stuart O'Connor.

Now for those rare mortals who may never have heard of Stuart or have never heard him play, he is a singer songwriter of talent, an accomplished guitar player and, like Matt Stevens, an exponent of looping to great effect. Stuart not only performs in his own right as a solo artist but also with his 'big' band and of course as one third of the very popular rock band, My Pet Junkie.

Tonight is was just Stuart, his guitar and effects and boy oh boy was it good, I was literally in tears at the end of his set, tears of joy, moved by his music and at the sheer wonderment of what I had just witnessed (OK, I was a bit drunk too but you know what I mean).

Stuart reaches out to one of his little magic boxes

Amazing songs from Stuart O'Connor

It was the sheer intensity of some of the songs that got me

Intensity, as you can see

There wasn't any way that anyone or any band could, for me this night, top what Stuart had delivered, however, the last act of the evening, Alt Rockers Tubries did a splendid job of rounding off the evening in some style with their catchy well crafted songs and there was a stage invasion at the end by many of their friends which may be a stage managers / sound engineers nightmare but it's always good to see none the less, it sort of brings things to a natural close.

Tubries in action

I say, what a lot of people on stage!
And that my dear friends is just about it, but before I go, here are a few links you may like to explore:-

Cheers my dears, until the next time :)

Grant Meaby March 1st 2014