Wednesday, 25 March 2015

HRH PROG3 - Seagulls, Ducks, Eclipses and Prog with a bit of Sci-Fi on the side!

Well we did it, the Fellowship of the Stick was seven strong and the Corona's were out and about too, I must admit, among the Sci-Fi crowd we did feel somewhat under-dressed!

So, without further ado, this is how it was for us, well mainly for me as strangely enough we don't all share exactly the same taste in music!

Thursday Night
The Osiris Club
The Osiris Club – Robed and masked the Osiris Club took to the stage with their own brand of doom prog, not to everyone’s taste but I quite enjoyed them.
Dream Circuit
The Dream Circuit – Psychedelic Space Rockers Dream Circuit were a breath of fresh air, this is a genre of music I really like and strangely had never come across these guys before, splendid, I’ve even ordered their album direct from the bands web site.
Knifeworld – The first real ‘Marmite’ band of the weekend, you’ll either love then or you won’t, I love them, for me a splendid gig and Kavus Torabi is an amazing character, it was great to have the opportunity to catch up with him for a chat later too.
The Skys
The Skys – Melodic and at time quite heavy prog all the way from Lithuania, another new discovery and jolly good they were too.
Prog Disco – Really? A good excuse to escape to one of the bars and see who was around, drink and chat until silly o’clock!

We managed to catch the acoustic sets from Dream Circuit, Anna Phoebe and The Skys, a great start to the day especially Anna Phoebe, amazing.
Anna Phoebe

Kitten Pyramid
Kitten Pyramid – Extremely enjoyable lunacy is the only way I can describe this lot, watching Devin Townsend while completely off your face on acid might just be a similar experience (So I’m told!).
Sanguine Hum
Sanguine Hum – Far better than I expected, last time I saw this bunch there was too much ‘shoe gazing’ going on and little interaction with the audience, no more, the music has always been excellent and now the interaction with the audience was also there and it made for an extremely enjoyable experience.
Touchstone – Not the final farewell gig after all but possibly the penultimate one. The purists and no doubt some other reviewers will harp on about the sound to start with, OK, so it took the sound guys a couple of numbers to get the balance right but quite honestly to me it didn’t matter, it was Touchstone, I was there, job’s a good ’un as they say.
I spent a lot of the time during the Touchstone gig with Kim’s family and friends and it was an extremely emotional experience, Kim’s mum wasn’t the only person with tears in their eyes at the end I can tell you, for me and I suspect many others, one of, if not the, gig of the festival.
It was even better to catch up with the Touchstone crew in the bar afterwards for a pint and good old chin wag with Moo Bass.
Lifesigns – Having been accosted by John Young earlier in the bar after initially failing to spot him straight away and say hello I promised him I’d be ‘Down the front’ for this one, I was and it was sheer brilliance, enough said.
Anna Phoebe band
Anna Phoebe – Having caught her amazing acoustic set earlier I had great expectations for her full electric band, excellent though they were I felt I needed to hear a bit more ‘Oomph’ perhaps coming after Touchstone and Lifesigns, good none the less but it was the acoustic session that for me was pure magic.
The Enid
The Enid – ‘Marmite’ time again, Joe Payne really does have an amazing voice, I did manage to stay in for three numbers this time but the Enid, as many will know, are not really my cup of tea but credit where it’s due, a consummate performance as usual.
Mostly Autumn
Mostly Autumn – And there we were, having read the reviews of the most recent MA gigs showcasing the new album, expecting something dark, doomy and depressing and thankfully we didn’t get it, what we did get was a bloody fantastic selection from their extensive back catalogue played with a passion and enthusiasm that many bands fail to muster, another of the festival performances for me.
The Skys acoustic set was good and then it was the turn of Steeleye Span, this was being filmed, not just by HRH TV who seemed to film every performance and even did an interview with The Fellowship for which I seemed to have been shunted forward as spokesperson!
Anyway, we only got three songs, each played at least twice but it was a rare treat to see these legends in so intimate a setting and up close, I couldn't wait for the full performance later.
Steeleye Span Acoustic
It seemed that Saturday afternoon had been given over to prog metal (Very loosely bracketed as such) it was very difficult to see much if any prog influence or inclusion in their sets which drove many of the die-hard prog fans away leaving those who don’t mind a bit of mix in their music and the few metal heads who were there.
Collibus – Female fronted hard rockers, what a damn fine splendid set they played, full of energy, great guitar work, I  really enjoyed them.
Agent – OK getting a bit heavier now, a few proggy bits here and there but heavy, more than OK if you’re into that side of things, by now it looked like only the few metal heads were left down the front, I joined them for a while.
Landskap – A shame so many had departed as these were the real progressive band of the afternoon, heavy yes, but also progressive, quite enjoyed their set.
Black Peaks
Black Peaks – Now I’m quite fond of heavy rock / hardcore cross over but at a prog festival? Come on, these guys could have graced Hardrock Hell and no doubt would have gone down a storm, ho hum, such is life.
Jump – One of the hardest working and longest survived of the melodic prog influenced bands around and what a fantastic and passionate performance they put on, at least the evening was off to a great start.
Magenta – So good to see Christina Booth back on form and in good health, a great set, well played, great sound and for me, another of the performances of the festival.
Styeeleye Span
Steeleye Span – Maddy Prior still has her ‘voice’ as they say as do the rest of the band, this may not have been prog but it was electric folk at its very very best and probably the first really packed house as many from the Sci-Fi convention had wandered down for this one, yes, another damn fine gig.
Rick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman – Just Rick and his Grand Piano, stories, anecdotes, jokes and a goodly serving of virtuoso piano playing  including a selection of his own solo work, classic Yes numbers and a smattering of other collaborations throughout his long and illustrious career, this was for me and many more people there I suspect, a truly unique and mesmerising experience, what a damn fine way to bring HRH Prog3 to a close.
 We’ve already booked up for next year.
Seagulls, Ducks, Eclipses and Prog
(With a bit of Sci-Fi on the side)

Where on Earth and what could this be?
Why only HRH Prog3 at Hafan Y Mor in Phwelli
Where it seems there’s always a challenge to overcome
Like for example the accommodation
Which this year as we were VIP’s
Meant we should be able to access the venues with ease
The initial Mobile Home was very pleasant
But close to the Prog event it wasn’t
So some negotiation was done by Kevin
And we moved to our new super Prog haven

We had one discount card between six
OK if all of us were in ‘The Kitty’ mix
Also it didn’t seem to work at each till
We struggled on for a while despite this until
Kevin once again seized the day
And got it reprogrammed so that was OK
But one thing that irked more than anything I fear
Was the bar constantly running out of draft beer

But despite all this the Fellowship had fun
We do tend to do festivals the way they should be done
HRH Prog3 overall was no exception
We enjoyed the eclectic mix of musical direction
It was not all ‘prog’ as you might imagine
Depending of course on this genre’s perception
And we shared the site with the Sci-Fi convention
Which made it somewhat more of an interesting occasion
Star Wars characters seemed to have abounded
And it was somewhat strange to be quite so surrounded
By Storm-troopers, Darth Vader’s, Wookies and Jedi’s
When to cool down or to smoke you just popped outside!

Outside you could have held your very own Hawkfest
Because they only played Hawkwind and sod all the rest
But that was ok for an old Hawknerd like me
I must admit to have been somewhat relaxed and happy
So many friends were at this festival despite its location
To seek them out and spend time with them was my vocation
For it’s the people as much as the music that ‘make’ these events
And for HRH Prog3 that’s certainly the way that it went

On Friday morning entranced we watched the eclipse
But that’s another poem to be escaping my lips
The gulls and the ducks seemed somewhat confused
By the light and the cold the eclipse so ensued
Three days of music and Fellowship and time spent with friends
It’s this sort of thing that you wish would never end
We saw some great bands and some damn fine performances too
And some not to our taste but that’s OK, it’s a case of, as you do
Suddenly Sunday was there and it was time to go home
But it’s fair to say that we all had so much fun
We’ve already booked up for next year!

Grant Meaby
March 2015

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