The ProgBlog Diary 09 - February 2020

By ProgBlog, Mar 9 2020 10:23PM

A list of recent past, present and future happenings in the prog world

Latest additions to the ProgBlog collection, primarily garnered from three sources (Black Widow Records, Genoa; Burning Shed; and via the artists themselves through Bandcamp: Collegium Musicum (CD) - Collegium Musicum; Görlitz (CD) – Pulsar; Il Segno del Comando (CD) - Il Segno del Comando; Waterloo Lily (Vinyl) – Caravan; Principe di un Giorno (V) – Celeste; III or Viaggio negli Arcipelaghi del Tempo (V) - Delirium; Maxophone (V) – Maxophone; Il Paese dei Balocchi (V) - Il Paese dei Balocchi; Il Volto Verdi (V) – Il Segno del Comando; Ile de Fièvre (V) – Shylock; Music for Airports (V) – Brian Eno; Live at Coventry Cathedral (CD) – Travis & Fripp; Present from Nancy (V) – Supersister; Worlds Within (CD) – Raphael Weinroth-Browne; Depth of Field (V) – Kaprekar’s Constant; Exsolve (V) – Jo Quail

Jo Quail postcard
Jo Quail postcard

Jo Quail postcard (back)
Jo Quail postcard (back)

The recent past

Live report: Banco del Mutuo Soccorso + Il Segno del Comando, Politeama Genovese, February 5th

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso have been touring 2019’s Transiberiana around major cities in Italy and after reading that there were plans for co-founder Gianni Nocenzi to perform alongside his brother Vittorio Nocenzi at the Genoa concert on 5th February – after leaving Banco in 1985 he has only made very rare appearances with the band – I thought that I’d sign-up for what was billed as an extraordinary, unforgettable event. I was also seduced by the support act, Genovese dark prog band Il Segno del Comando which I’d wanted to see for some time

I saw Banco in Brescia in January 2018 but didn’t manage to catch the full set, having left early to ensure I could get a taxi back to my hotel. This proved to be no problem in Genoa because the concert was being held at the Politeama Genovese, a 1000 seat theatre next door to the hotel where I always stay when I’m in Genoa. This in turn proved to be a bonus, as the band and manager Lorella Brambilla were staying at the same Hotel – I spoke to drummer Fabio Moresco immediately after I’d checked-in when I held the lift for him (he commented on my just-purchased copy of Prog Italia) and later met Lorella and Vittorio Nocenzi as I was returning from a pilgrimage to Black Widow Records. The friendliness and kindness of Italian musicians never ceases to amaze me

BMS poster, Politeama Genovese
BMS poster, Politeama Genovese

The more formal setting of the concert meant it started on time, with a short but enjoyable set from Il Segno del Comando. I wasn’t familiar with their music, having only acquired their first, self titled album and Il Volto Verdi on that trip, but I had been intrigued by the description provided by Black Widow Records’ Massimo Gasperini as ‘dark, like Van der Graaf Generator.’ The band is named after the successful 1971 giallo television series and novel of the same name by Giuseppe D'Agata, the one constant in a line-up that has changed beyond recognition since Il Segno del Comando formed in 1995 is bassist Diego Banchero, who has impressive connections within the Genoa music scene. The current personnel remain unchanged since 2018’s L'Incanto Dello Zero. Joining Banchero were Davide Bruzzi (guitars, keyboards); Fernando Cherchi (drums); Roberto Lucanato (guitars); Beppi Menozzi (keyboards); and Riccardo Morello (vocals)

46 years since their self-titled debut Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, the BMS set mixed 70’s classics with highlights from 2019’s Transiberiana. Last year’s offering marked the first new album for 25 years, the last studio album 13 being released in 1994, and Vittorio Nocenzi made a conscious effort to produce something that captured the original Banco spirit, albeit with an updated sound and clean production. Along with Nocenzi (piano, keyboards and voice) who has been guiding Banco since it was founded were Filippo Marcheggiani (lead guitar), Nicola Di Gia (rhythm guitar), Marco Capozi (bass), Fabio Moresco (ex-Metamorfosi, drums), and Tony D'Alessio (lead vocal.) Unfortunately Gianni Nocenzi did not appear but that didn’t detract from the spectacle or quality of the evening’s music. I thought they were going to begin with Transiberiana opener Stelle Sulla Terra but that proved to be a tease, as the opening bars transformed into Metamorfosi then subsequently taking us through more of the eponymous debut LP, selections from Darwin!, Io Sono Nato Librero and Transiberiana. The music wasn’t the only entertainment – Nocenzi also tells a good story, affecting a cod-Genoese accent and attitude which had my (Genoese) friends laughing out loud, getting political (my sort of politics), and then disparaging the quality and content of the Sanremo music festivals. Each song was performed with consummate skill, the early pieces varying from the album versions due to the different conformations of the band over 40+ years and D’Alessio, who has a fine voice, not even considering the fruitless task of sounding like Francesco di Giacomo. Banco are right up there with the cream of progressive rock, not just progressivo italiano. At times you can hear hints of ELP in the organ and piano but they are so much more than an ELP-school group. More rocking than many of their original Italian contemporaries their social commentary was spot on in the 70s and remains so today. If you’ve not heard any Banco del Mutuo Soccorso you need to buy some of their albums; if you’ve not seen them play live, you should make every endeavour to do so. Is anyone up for hosting Banco in the UK?

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Genoa 5/2/20
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Genoa 5/2/20

Big Big Train and The Passengers Club

The Passengers Club, a new forum for Big Big Train fans was launched on February 14th.

Membership of the Passengers Club gives listeners a chance to get behind the scenes in the world of Big Big Train. Club members will be able to hear early demos from the writing and recording stages of their studio releases and demos of songs that got lost along the way, including some tracks from an abandoned concept album that they were working on a few years ago. There will be films of the band backstage, recording in the studio, and during rehearsals and soundchecks. There will also be exclusive photo galleries, blog posts, Facebook Q & As, and other good things. Membership costs £30 for one year, or £50 for two years and full details of how to sign up, what is on offer, and the reasons for starting the Passengers Club can be found at

Big Big Train, Hackney Empire 2/11/19
Big Big Train, Hackney Empire 2/11/19

Big Big Train Live in 2020

Big Big Train’s 2020 touring plans (which includes gigs in the US, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy) are now largely in place. The European dates are finalised but there is a possibility one more show will be added in the US. Tickets are available from the BBT website

• Saturday 9 May – Rosfest, Opera House, Sarasota, Florida, USA (festival headline show)

• Monday 11 May – Opera House, Toronto, Canada

• Tuesday 12 May – Corona Theatre, Montreal, Canada

• Wednesday 13 May – Théâtre de la Cité Universitaire, Quebec City, Canada *

• Sunday 17 May – Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook, New Jersey, USA *

• Saturday 23rd May – Sweetwater Performance Pavilion, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA **

• Thursday 16 July – Friars, Aylesbury, UK ***

• Saturday 18 July - Ramblin' Man Festival, Kent, UK (festival headline show)

• Monday 20 July – Stadstheater, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands **

• Tuesday 21 July – Lichtburg, Essen, Germany **

• Thursday 23 July – Konzerthaus, Karlsruhe, Germany **

• Friday 24th July – Phenomenon, Fontaneto D'Agogna, Milan, Italy **

Coming up

Lifesigns have announced a short UK tour before they sail off for Cruise to the Edge 2020, which will be their fourth. ProgBlog is heading off to the Half Moon in Putney to catch their London show (Wednesday March 11th) after being suitably impressed by their performance at Trading Boundaries last August

Lifesigns Spring Tour 2020
Lifesigns Spring Tour 2020

Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin News

Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin will be playing a special 40-year anniversary concert at King’s Place, London on August 1st 2020. Although it seems a long way off, many seats are already taken and as this is their only UK gig planned this year it's advisable to book now to avoid disappointment

The line-up will be Barbara (vocals), Dave (keyboards) and Beren Matthews (guitar), playing a selection of material (including old favourites and some brand new songs) drawn from the Stewart / Gaskin catalogue. During their 40 years together they've recorded and performed over 90 songs, which Stewart suggests makes designing setlists a bit tricky! With that in mind, if you have requests for songs you'd like to hear performed at the upcoming London show, please feel free to email them at [email protected] with tunes selected from the 1980-2020 Stewart / Gaskin catalogue. They can’t guarantee to play all requests, but would be interested to know fan favourites

King’s Place was chosen to combine comfort and accessibility with superb acoustics. Stewart says, "I've wanted to play in this hall since it was built in 2008 - unlike many concert venues, it's a 21st century space designed and optimised for live music, so the sound is great from every seat in the house." The concert will be all seated, with provision for wheelchair users

Tickets are available exclusively from Burning Shed

The Stewart / Gaskin Band (image from the Stewart / Gaskin newsletter)
The Stewart / Gaskin Band (image from the Stewart / Gaskin newsletter)

Read the Stewart/Gaskin story in ProgBlog here:

Available now or soon

Lost Connection by Fughu (prog with a tango influence) – available now via the band website

Best Understood by Children and Animals by Parachute for Gordo (instrumental post-rock) – available now via Bandcamp

See You See Me by The Dowling Poole (electo pop) – available now via the band website

The Totemist by Ak’chamel (psyche-folk) – available 27/3/20 via Bandcamp

Electric Castle Live and Other Tales by Ayreon (prog metal) – available 27/3/20 via Mascot Label Group

Dante’s Inferno (EP) by Flight of Eden (prog metal) – available 9/4/20 via Bandcamp

Nostalgia for Infinity by Hats Off Gentlemen it’s Adequate (prog/alt-rock) – available 6/5/20 via Bandcamp

New and forthcoming releases
New and forthcoming releases

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Welcome to ProgBlog


I was lucky enough to get to see two gigs in Italy last summer while the UK live music industry was halted and unsupported by the government, and the subsequent year-long gap between going to see bands play live has been frustrating - but necessary.

The first weekend in September marked the return of live prog in England, and ProgBlog was there...

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