2. PARNASSUS PERFORMANCE PRESENTS 'SHH! NOT A WORD'
3. MR. SPEAKER PLAYS RADIOHEAD
4. PROXIMUS, THE GIFT AND KONCHORDAT AT THE ROCK DEN
Some people, when they have retired from the world of useful employment say "I can't believe I ever had the time to go to work" while others might say, "I'm bored and wish I had never retired", well, all I can say is that for myself I am most definitely in the former rather than the latter group!
So, 3 days in June, 4 gigs, and in chronological order, here we go, hold on, this could be an interesting ride!
1. Thursday Night 22/06/17 - The Mantis Divine and Wake in the Waters at the Red Lion, Stevenage.
Another SoundARC Promotions gig (Thank you Andy), what can I say about The Mantis Divine? Interesting, different, heavy, excellent and far better, as in much more polished, than when we saw them a few months back supporting the Zipheads at Club-85.
The Mantis Divine are a Hertfordshire band, mixing rock & metal genres to create a sound all their own.
Formed in 2016 when front-woman / vocalist Nadia Maria placed an ad on line searching for musicians who shared her musical taste and influence, it obviously worked, the lineup is now:-
Nadia Maria - Vocals
Kim Young - Guitar
Lee Warren - Bass
Greg Anderson - Drums
|The Mantis Divine|
|The Mantis Divine set list for the night|
|Nadia & Kim|
|Wake in the Waters in full flow!|
|It's all here in black & white!|
2. Friday 23rd June - Parnassus Performance presents "Shh! Not a Word" as part of the Stevenage Festival.
OK, Parnassus Performance is a Stevenage based Poetry and performing arts group, over the years we have built up a network of poets, artists, writers, musicians, entertainers etc. and while these days we don't formally meet, the 'core' team are all good friends and we meet on line via our own social media pages, many of us regularly perform at gigs, festivals and other such events.
Parnassus has contributed a show to every Stevenage Festival since it's inception over 25 years ago!
The evening consisted of a mix of music and poetry, much of it original contemporary work, every one was spot on plus we had an excellent audience, it was, thankfully a brilliant evening, I say that as I was the organiser, host and MC and if you had any idea how much work goes into arranging these shows you'd know!
After a few words of introduction from my good self (As opposed to my bad self) the show opened with the musical comedy of 'Smokin' Dick Burns' (a.k.a. Nick Brown).
|Smokin' Dick Burns|
Nick was followed by Poet / Play writer Graeme Lloyd performing his quirky, funny and often touching poetry.
|GM - Did I just say that?|
|Fran & Gabe from The Blues Blaggers|
|Chris Ripple in fine form|
|The wonderful Joy T Chance (Purple Dread)|
To close the show we welcomed back Fran & Gabe for their 2nd set, it was absolutely stunning.
|Fran & Gabe close the show|
3. Saturday 24th June - Afternoon - Mr. Speaker plays Radiohead.
So there we were on Saturday afternoon with family and friends in the Gatefold record Lounge in Hitchin as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Radiohead's OK Computer and, apart from playing the remastered LP in full, had the very excellent Mr Speaker playing an hour of Radiohead songs in a stunning acoustic set that really worked, plus of course, as they were without the bands regular vocalist, had Fran from the Blues Blaggers as special guest vocalist!
|Mr Speaker plays Radiohead|
|Yes it really is in a record shop!|
After a splendid afternoon it was time to say goodbye to family and friends as Chris and I headed off down the motorway to Hatfield for our very first visit to The Rock Den.
4. Proximus, The Gift and Konchordat at the Rock Den, Hatfield.
So, the Rock Den put on this 'prog' night, not the airy fairy, twiddly widdly prog of fairy tales and mythical beasts but a night of the finest Neo prog / rock crossover, at times hard and fast and heavy, at times slow, melodic and beautiful and at all times with meaningful lyrics that made sense and that you could hear and clearly understand!
It was also a real joy to catch up with The Gift's Mike Morton who really is one of life's 'good guys' (Insert smiley face etc.) + of course the guys and gals from The Rock Den who make a regular pilgrimage up to the Melbourn Rock Club.
The Gift were the second band on and they played an absolutely stunning set, even better than they were at HRH Prog 5 and they were damn good there too!
The Gift's current album, 'Why the sea is salt' is one of my favourite albums and the song, The Tallest Tree is just so beautiful and moving, the album version features guest contributions from none other than Steve Hackett, Ant Phillips and Mr. Tigermoth Tales himself, Peter Jones - What more do I need to say?
|The Gift - Gifted!|
South London's Konchordat (Bad Elephant label mates) completed the line up, this was heavy rock / prog crossover at it's best, far better than when we saw them at HRH Prog 5 but that was due to sound balance problems (You could hardly hear the keyboards!) but no such problems this night at the Rock Den, the sound engineers here did a stunning job and Konchordat absolutely nailed it!
|Fans sometimes get in the way!|
All in all it had been a stunning three days, now it's time for a rest, but before that, as it was Chris and I at every gig above mentioned, it was most definitively a FoTs few days, so:-
A Thursday to Saturday in June
So on Thursday night
There’s Chris and me
Were back down the Red
A couple of bands to see
Mantis Divine took to the stage
And they really rocked the first set
Then Wake in the Waters blew us away
The older they are the better they get
Once there was a young band
Many long years ago
Called Charlie Indestructible
That some of you may know
And from the ashes of Charlie
Wake in the Waters grow
On Friday night Grant hosted a show
Called Shh! Not a Word
For the Stevenage Arts Festival
Great poetry and music
To be seen and heard
It was good to see so many
Good friends in the audience
It was a damn fine show all round
I think they’re glad they went!
On Saturday afternoon
In the Gatefold Record Lounge
We were rocking out to the sound
Of Radiohead songs played acoustically
By Mr. Speaker with special guest vocalist
Miss Fran Meaby!
Saturday night saw Chris and I
Heading off down the motorway to Hatfield
For our first visit to the Rock Den
Stopping off at Asda for a quick meal
This night was Prog night at the Rock Den
Proximus, The Gift and “Sarf Lundun’s” Konchordat
It was an absolutely stunning night of quality music
Neo prog at its best oh yes you’d better believe that!
It was good to catch up with the Den’s guys
That come on up to the MRC
(That’s The Melbourn Rock Club for the uninitiated,
It all makes sense to the likes of Chris and me)
Catching up with Mike Morton was a real pleasure
This really put the icing on the evening’s cake
However, three late nights of quality gigs
Begins to take it’s toll, it’s as much as I can take!
Who am I kidding, when’s the next one?
GM June 2017
So, until the next time, keep keeping music live and support your local venues and above all, stay safe and have fun.