Most people have heard of progressive rock (or prog rock, or simply prog) but the great majority of them treat it with mild disdain (at best) or outright hatred (at worst). Most of the criticism is a mindless rejection based on current trends and a misunderstanding of the genre; “dinosaur” is a common term of abuse, neatly parodied by Adrian Belew on King Crimson’s 1994 album Thrak
There is an increasing quantity of literature on the subject, ranging from the analytical or academic (Edward Macan, Rocking the Classics; Kevin Holme-Hudson, Progressive Rock Revisited) to the fairly straightforward lists (Charles Snider, The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock.) There are also thousands of fans out there who not only continue to attend concerts, but also contribute to a growing network of fanzines and on-line forums. Fans are even served by Prog, a glossy magazine from Future Publishing now in its tenth year, entirely devoted to prog in all its forms
The ProgBlog has been put together to encourage discussion about progressive rock music illustrated by personal observation
The award-winning ProgBlog
The original aim of the blog was to promote discussion about all and any facet of progressive rock but from time to time, bands and musicians contact ProgBlog with new prog-related material that they want to expose to a wider audience; ProgBlog's album of 2017 An Invitation by Amber Foil was one such approach. The DISCovery section has been introduced to better serve the requirements of musicians who contact ProgBlog with the aim of increasing the audience for their music; without music there can be no discussion of music
A Lifelong Journey
A Lifelong Journey is a project by Mauro Mugiati and Brian Belloni, members of the highly respected Italian Jethro Tull tribute act Beggar’s Farm. A Lifelong Journey is their first self-titled release, a concept album that honours the legacy of music from the golden era of prog while recognising the commitment to progress by combining Hammond organ, acoustic piano and Mellotron with modern production to achieve a fresh, yet recognisable prog sound
It’s a very worthy first effort and would interest almost everyone into either classic or modern prog. Read about it here
The ProgBlog Diary
A list of recent past, present and future happenings in the prog world
07 - December 2019
29/11/2019 Live report - Steve Hackett, Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
The final date of Hackett‘s 2019 Genesis Revisited tour, featuring Selling England by the Pound in its entirety along with a celebration of Spectral Mornings on its 40th anniversary was unmissable if you want to hear classic-period Genesis music. Highlights from this year’s release At the Edge of Light were also included in the first set which boasted an extended line-up, adding Hackett’s brother John and Amanda Lehmann to the ‘Revisited’ line-up, this tour with Jonas Reingold on bass and Craig Blundell on drums. Spectral Mornings vies with Voyage of the Acolyte for my all-time favourite Hackett solo album so it was good to hear so much of it played live. As for Selling England, it’s up there with Foxtrot and The Lamb, its one duff moment being the throwaway More Fool Me. The performance stuck relatively faithful to the recorded version, barring the extemporisation in the middle of I Know What I Like which I, along with a number of others who could be overheard afterwards, thought out-of-context and surplus to requirement. One more variation was the inclusion of Déjà Vu, a musical sketch by Peter Gabriel finished off by the rest of the band. The musicianship is faultless, the music timeless. Roll on the Genesis Revisited Seconds Out tour in 2020.
Sometime between September 11th and September 14th the ProgBlog website registered 2 million hits. While I’m rather proud of this milestone I still find it quite hard to take in, though there are other measures of the ProgBlog success, such as the continual flow of requests by artists, bands and management for reviews of their music. Most of these queries relate to music that falls within the prog umbrella though I did have to decline a couple because they had insufficient prog elements. 12 DISCovery articles and four reviews were posted in the hope of finding an audience for this new music, with much-needed input and assistance from prog-metal specialist Stefano Amadei who graciously gives up his spare time for the purpose, and also from my brother Richard who provided the review of Jan Akkerman’s Close Beauty, Akkerman being one of his guitar heroes. I have a job outside the ProgBlog which means there are a couple of pieces still outstanding but these will be addressed; the keen eyed will have noticed that the frequency of true blogs has diminished, which is a reaction to the number of musicians that now contact ProgBlog directly. Over the past five years the blogs have covered most burning topics so the ProgBlog had become less of an opinion site and more of an impartial promotional tool linking new music to potential listeners.
Over the year I attended 22 gigs, one of which was my first ever prog date with my wife, and two prog-related events: Steve Hackett’s At the Edge of Light playback and, also at the Crystal Palace Everyman cinema which was the venue for the Hackett event, the Roger Waters Us+Them film. I ticked off a number of live firsts, including acts like Lifesigns, IQ, Big Big Train and Jadis, and attended venues I’d not previously frequented. I acquired 147 albums on vinyl or CD, plus a couple of live performance DVDs (see below for the very latest additions.)
2019 represented a milestone in the history of prog, with the genre reaching its half century (if you believe as I do that In the Court of the Crimson King was the first prog album); Prog magazine celebrated its 10th anniversary and 100 issues; and throughout all this, bands continued to push musical boundaries. Excluding Brexit, I’m looking forward to prog in 2020!
18/11/2019 Live report - Jadis, 229 Venue 2, London
Jadis is a band I’d totally missed out on even though they first came to public attention supporting IQ on the Nomzamo tour, and subsequently supported Marillion when they were promoting Clutching at Straws. 229 is a low-ceiling venue with a cramped stage and it was absolutely heaving on the night. The set was chosen from throughout the band’s career, so it was a pretty decent introduction to their music, varying from complex and dynamic to melodic and at times fairly straightforward (though undeniably well-crafted) rock that reminded me of Asia. Gary Chandler handled the majority of the introductions and inter-song banter, relating amongst other things, a tale of breaking the gas main outside their communal house with the weight of their truck. They went down a storm and even threw in a crowd-pleasing encore of Comfortably Numb. Attending was a last-minute decision that turned into a thoroughly enjoyable evening
Latest additions to the ProgBlog collection: The Underfall Yard (CD) and Folklore (CD) by Big Big Train; Midnight Wire (Vinyl) by Curved Air; The Grapes demo (download) by TheGrapes; The Tain (V) by Horslips; Lighthouse (V) by Iamthemorning; More Than Meets the Eye (CD) and No Fear of Looking Down (V) by Jadis; 4 (V) by Metronhomme; Is There Anybody Out There – The Wall Live (2CD) by Pink Floyd; and Jon Kirkman’s And The Lamb, Lies Down, On Broadway (Book)
8/12/19 Live report - The Flower Kings + Iamthemorning + Rickard Sjöblom and Rachel Hall, Scala, London
Another spur-of-the-moment decision, this was the second time I’d seen The Flower Kings but the first time I’d seen the widely acclaimed Iamthemorning. I’d very recently seen Sjöblom and Hall in Big Big Train but they were standing in for Kayak who had pulled out due to illness, performing a very brief, acoustic folk set. It was good to see BBT’s Greg Spawton in the queue waiting to get in, presumably there to support his bandmates as much as to see The Flower Kings. Another interesting moment while waiting for entry was when Jonas Reingold walked past the end of the queue, only to return a moment later making his way to the doors at the front because he couldn’t find the stage door.
Iamthemorning were something of a revelation. Performing as a chamber quartet (piano; vocals; cello; percussion) the music is surprisingly bright when you hear the subject matter (mostly death or disease.) Marjana Semkina has an amazing voice (my first impression was of Kate Bush) and she drifted around in the manner of Sonja Kristina, Gleb Kolyadin is quite an incredible player with a style reminiscent of Robert John Godfrey’s playing on early Enid albums. Suitably impressed by their set I visited the merchandise stand during the break before The Flower Kings and bought a copy of Lighthouse.
The Flower Kings’ set was comprised of five, lengthy tracks and an encore, where they were joined on stage by the support acts, of The Beatles’ The Long and Winding Road. Unsurprisingly, three of the tracks were from 2019’s Waiting for Miracles, more of the hyper-melodic prog that the band are known for, plus two old favourites The Truth Will Set You Free and Stardust We Are. The previous time I’d seen them at the Prog Résiste festival in Soignies, Begum in 2014, the set covered their full range of material but I was a little disappointed that the keyboards didn’t feature as much as I’d hoped. I enjoyed the Scala performance far more where the band, now truly international with an Italian drummer and an American keyboard player, had a much better balance. And talking of balance, Reingold’s party trick that I’d first seen when he was playing for Steve Hackett in November, balancing his Rickenbacker on his nose at the end of the performance, was repeated here.
Jadis, 229 Venue 2, 18/11/19 (L-R: Andy Marlow; Gary Chandler; Martin Orford; drummer Stephen Christey is hidden)
Melting Clock + La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio, La Claque, Genoa, 11th January 2020
Review: Complete the Connection is the forthcoming debut album from UK instrumental prog metal band ALTOSTRATUS.
Self-confessed fans of widdly guitar music, the four-piece consists of Alex Hek (guitar), Jordan Harris (guitar), Andrew Smith (bass), and Jack Thomas (drums).
ProgBlog thinks ALTOSTRATUS is a first rate band that would appeal to fans of PERIPHERY, TESSERACT, SPASTIC INK and GORDIAN KNOT
Read Stefano's review here