Tuesday, 27 June 2017






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
If anyone out there remembers a band from a few years back called Charlie Indestructible, well, from their ashes a real phoenix has risen, Wake in the Waters, what a superb band, extremely melodic, polished and just damn right good, can't wait until they put something out on CD.

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.

Graeme Lloyd
And then it was my turn!

GM - Did I just say that?
To conclude the 1st half we were lucky to have Fran & Gabe from The Blues Blaggers playing a damn fine acoustic set.

Fran & Gabe from The Blues Blaggers
The second half of the show kicked off with the side splitting musical comedy of Barry Woolhead, his song about Stevenage had the audience in fits of laughter!

Barry Woolhead
Following Barry was none other than that well known and excellent Poet, Chris Ripple who gave us a damn fine set touching on the rock scene, politics, Africa and life in general.

Chris Ripple in fine form
Our final poet of the evening was the wonderful 'Purple Dread' (Joy T Chance) with her beautiful, touching and at times extremely humorous poetry,

The wonderful Joy T Chance (Purple Dread)
It's worth mentioning that Chris and Joy have just released a double CD, 'The Scummy & Share' years covering some of their very best live performances 2003-2008, copies are available via Chris Ripple.

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!
The full band info:-

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.

Proximus were first band on and stunned us with their complex and interesting songs and timing changes, I really was reminded, at times, of the early Van Der Graaf Generator!

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

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.

1 comment:

  1. As one of those artists mentioned (in the Shhh... Not a Word bit) Can I just say thanx a lot for the concise review. You were also kind enough to mention the cd that Joy and I have put out, or maybe let out is a better way of putting it ? Because I am obviously an ego-crazed megalomaniac with an eye for publicity might I mention that anybody wishing to listen to a few tracks can find a few on Soundcloud by looking up Chris Ripple 1 where 7x selections from the double cd await you. Plus... Anybody wishing to know what we do when we get together to do these gigs can see my complete set which the Missus filmed, by clicking on And keep reading Grant's blog because it really is one of the better ones.