Concert Reviews Summer's End 2017

Published on 21st October 2017

Summer’s End Festival 2017

The Drill Hall, Chepstow
6th to 8th October 2017

 

“Sanctuary in Music…”


 

The Drill Hall is fast becoming the new spiritual home for the U.K.’s longest established festival of progressive music, the setting, close to the banks of the River Wye in Chepstow, perfect for a warm early Autumn weekend. It remains one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for many, a solid and significant fixture in the music calendar. Almost unbelievably in its thirteenth year, it is as much a social gathering for friends old and new as a musical event. A complete sell out this time, Summer’s End continues to go from strength to strength, and with a great line-up of artists all pulling out the stops to put on a great show, the icing on the cake is the usual wonderful sound achieved by festival regular Nick Worms. The atmosphere continuing to be one of relaxed and good-natured enjoyment, organisers Stephen Lambe and Huw Lloyd-Jones as always deserving a massive thanks for continuing to put their efforts into such a wonderful event, booking an interesting range of acts and ensuring that reasonably priced food and drink are available to sustain this marathon of Prog viewing… and there’s always the car park for the usual gaggles of fans needing some fresh air, sunlight… and occasional respite from all this bloody music! What Chepstow must make of this annual gathering of mainly middle aged and occasionally eccentric rock fans, some attired rather idiosyncratically, is anyone’s guess… but as one undisclosed festival goer put it, “With this happening in Chepstow at least it means that other towns are safer this weekend!”

For the second time a selection of TPA folk stayed together a few miles out of town, and by an oversight someone had again invited Phil Lively…

Phil: These are my thoughts on the 2017 Summer’s End festival. I’ll leave the detailed synopses of band performances to others who are probably going to have a much better handle on the events than I, with my Emmental brain. As this is a Progressive Rock festival then I may have been in the right place, as I happen to like some music that is, coincidentally, progressive rock. Imagine a three-day long party – I wouldn’t miss this for all the tea in China. My bits in what follows are no reflection on any of the bands that I have not mentioned. It is merely a list of a few of the wondrous memories of my weekend and it is in no particular order.

THE LIST OF WONDROUS MEMORIES:
IAMTHEMORNING
WEEND’ô
CRAIG BLUNDELL’S DRUM SOLO
NATHAN KING’s CARBON FIBRE BASS GUITAR
THE FRANCK CARDUCCI BAND
HALF PAST FOUR
Bits of KARMATANGENT (or something)
THEO TRAVIS, A FLUTE AND A LOOPING PEDAL
SANCTUARY IN MUSIC
THE OTHER BANDS – ALL OF THEM (NOT MENTIONED ABOVE)
THE SOUND
MY FELLOW PUNTERS

The words that relate to individual performances can be found in the band segments below, here are the rest:

THE OTHER BANDS – ALL OF THEM (NOT MENTIONED ABOVE)
The room was filled for several days with the love of music. There were bands who know their audience. There were brave bands who couldn’t know whether they’d bomb or whether they’d do not-bombing (where’s my thesaurus…?). There were bands who were clearly revelling in the opportunity to play their own music to an audience and there were bands clearly revelling in their ability to play music to an audience. Clearly there were bands whose members could be destined for quite a career in music; if they can acquire a younger generation of fans… or give up prog (wink). The current prog resurgence is still patronised by, in the main, “men of a certain age”. What, if not the love of music, possesses a bunch of young men with the whole of their lives ahead of them to play to an audience that will clearly be dead soon? Then where will their demographic be? Once again, I was struck by how approachable the musicians were. The only evidence of an apparently inflated ego came when one band’s sound man shot me a dirty look, at which point I thought, “fuck you all the way back to your day job as a Linux administrator!”. In his defence, I was talking (probably too loudly) within two feet of the mixing desk and that is a bit rude, but I hadn’t slept much and was, in retrospect, probably being a little harsh and cranky. Sorry. (If you ever get a chance to see Harsh and Cranky, the hurdy-gurdy/Jews Harp combo from Whittering-Upon-Wye, I wholeheartedly recommend them. You’ll often find them playing Sibelius in spit-and-sawdust venues throughout Gloucestershire and South Wales. As progressive as fuck, why they weren’t hired for the event is beyond me and shows great prejudice against the non-existent, in my book…)

THE SOUND
The sound for nearly all the bands was expertly engineered by Nick Worms who is now a hero of mine and a star of the entire event. On the few occasions when the bands brought their own sound engineer it was too loud and made everything muddy.

MY FELLOW PUNTERS
The audience, as opposed to that neo-progressive-skiffle-punk band, The Audience. The love of music and the camaraderie of fellow music fans draws me to this festival, even though it is mainly prog (wink).


Friday, 6th Oct 2017

The Drill Hall is a peculiar old place but works a treat for Summer’s End, now feeling like a comfy slipper, although it isn’t apparent as yet where the festival will be located in 2018. It’s a pleasant location to be for the entire weekend, and this year there were more chairs available to ease the creaky limbs of the faithful, who availed themselves gratefully. It’s not a large venue but with a good stage, parking, food and drink available on site, and only a short walk to the restaurants and hostelries of the town, it works well.

Another lovely weekend weather-wise, remaining good for the whole festival, allowing shirt-sleeved strolls around the town or along the river during the breaks, although the Autumnal air was still chilly as the evenings drew in. This year definitely felt busier and it was good to see a full house for the Friday evening. With three bands now appearing there was no time to hang around and punters were queuing patiently outside the hall to pick up their wristbands, only for Lambsie to usher everyone in – wristbands collected or not – as the first band were about to start – ON TIME! Honestly, where else would you be allowed in without even showing your ticket? Nowhere, that’s where, and more kudos to Stephen and Huw for that, the bands and the audience are the reasons why this happens at all and there’s a lot of two-way trust, financial gain never even thinking of coming into it. And so into the hall for…


This Winter Machine (UK)

Leo: This new Yorkshire based band give the festival a classic melodic prog start with material largely drawn from their fine debut album, The Man Who Never Was. Commencing with the chiming and enticing opening bars of instrumental Lullaby (interrupted) which then erupts into a powerful fanfare for their set, showcasing the keyboard skills of Mark Numan and the impressive double guitar attack of Graham Garbett and Scott Owens. This assured band then segued smoothly into the flowing Asia-like rock of After Tomorrow Comes which highlighted the strength of Al Wynter’s vocals and emphasised the band’s ability to write more accessible rock alongside musically ambitious set pieces. TWM confidently threw in a couple of new songs, a good way to ‘road test’ material for their next album, the multi-layered instrumental Herald promising much but just when it felt like it was brewing up from a magnificent opening piece into a stirring epic, it seemed to finish rather abruptly. It may benefit from more honing or development… but what do I know!? No such constructive criticism could be levelled at their great rendition of Fractured, the finale and one of the highlights from the debut album, the title track closing their show atmospherically in epic classic Prog fashion. Opening a festival is never easy but This Winter Machine’s confident performance and engaging melodic songs won over many in the crowd and kicked off the weekend in fine style.

Setlist:
Lullaby (interrupted)
After Tomorrow Comes
Herald
Fractured
Justified
The Man Who Never Was

Line up:
Mark Numan – Keyboards,
Backing Vocals
Al Wynter – Vocals
Marcus Murray – Drums
Graham Garbett – Guitars
Peter Priestley – Bass
Scott Owens – Guitars

Links:
Website | Facebook |
Twitter | Instagram

This Winter Machine 2 - by Tony ColvillTony: Sunny day, pleasant journey, Tesco’s for the breakfast extravaganza, and peachy accommodation. Well done Leo! The TPA posse gathered, settled and descended on the Drill Hall. First up, This Winter Machine, much credit to their first album The Man Who Never Was, the band play a short set combining old and new. A nice bunch to chat with, some great music, and the anticipated second album is likely to step things up a notch. I enjoyed their set overall, they pose questions, as good music often does. First act, and I suspect a little nervous as the stagecraft was not quite as polished as I would expect, but this comes with time. Herald was their third track, taken from the being mixed second album, the intro left me expecting lyrics that never came. It was good music but struck me as being in search of words. I will seek out Album Two though, having already sourced the first.

Mel: After a brief introduction from Stephen, which included his thanks for the opening band agreeing to play at short notice, This Winter Machine open proceedings. I have heard a lot of good things about this band and was intrigued to hear their brand of atmospheric and symphonic music. The opening keyboard line got a little distorted due to excess volume but the excellent resident sound man got this quickly under control, leaving the band to play a self-assured and confident set. With the debut of some new material destined for the next album, singer Al Wynter was in fine voice, ably supported by the rest of the band, Mark Numan’s keyboards providing the atmosphere and textures. A good start.

Jez: A late addition to the bill and, having enjoyed their debut album The Man Who Never Was released at the start of the year, a pleasant surprise. The band appeared immediately comfortable and launched into a set of lengthy and atmospheric pieces which on the whole worked very well. Singer Al Wynter was particularly impressive, but on occasion the set got a little bogged down in the setting of atmosphere, which got a little dour and detracted from the performance a bit. In fact, when new piece Herald finished, seemingly prematurely, myself and my colleague Mr Lively voiced our surprise as we were waiting for the vocals to start. It was in fact an instrumental but it felt like it was only just getting going. Overall a solid and enjoyable performance that was ultimately a little lacking in dynamics. I’m sure that this will develop in time as this is a band in the early stages of their career who will no doubt hone their act further over time.

[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


Midnight Sun (UK)

Mel: Next up, Midnight Sun, a band featuring ex-members of Unto Us and Also Eden, fronted by Summer’s End organiser Huw Lloyd-Jones. This band has a harder edge than previous ones that Huw has been involved in; again we are given a confident set, Huw indulging in some great banter with the audience. They have some good songs which often border on prog metal territory, and this went some way towards highlighting how different the headline act were going to be tonight.

Leo: Midnight Sun, a new band featuring Summer’s End organiser Huw Lloyd-Jones, former vocalist with Also Eden and Unto Us, have yet to release an album so this was a set of brand new songs unfamiliar to most of the crowd, which is a challenge for any band. Nevertheless, they performed a muscular set with some great guitar work by Andy Gelband and Tom Ennis. Whilst many present were pulling for this ‘home town band’ to succeed, Midnight Sun still had to produce the goods to a discerning crowd and they pulled it off through a combination of assured and powerful rock with subtle touches. Huw showed his undoubted class as a skilled vocalist and the album due in 2018 promises much based on this show.

Setlist:
Scheherezade
Delerium
Early warning
Pictures in clouds
Broken angels
Control (working title!)

Line up:
Huw Lloyd-Jones – Vocals
Andy Gelband – Guitar
Tom Ennis – Guitar
Jack Thomas – Bass Guitar
Sam Slater – Drums
Ian Hodson – Keyboards

Links:
Facebook

Midnight Sun - by Tony ColvillTony: Middle of the afternoon, so time for Midnight Sun, the vehicle of Huw Lloyd-Jones, co-organiser and provider of slaves for bar and kitchen; a polished performance throughout. Nice music, which sounds a little dismissive but is not meant to be, just good music as we ease onward into our weekend. I like Huw’s voice, it has good timbre and balance, dealing well with range across the band’s songs, who in themselves are none too shoddy as performers.

Jez: It’s traditional for the current band of festival organiser Huw Lloyd-Jones to appear now and again – and fair enough too as he possesses a wonderful voice and writes some very interesting songs. Midnight Sun take the melodic elements of Huw’s earlier bands, Unto Us and Also Eden among them, and push things in a more metallic direction than previously, and it works very well. They’re polished and put on a good show, immediately getting the audience on side. The music uses the heaviness to good effect, as a texture rather than the sole purpose, and Huw, as always, sounds fantastic. The band is tight and it all bodes rather well for the album, which is scheduled to appear around the new year.

[Photos by Tony Colvill]


Iamthemorning (RU)

Leo: Friday headliners iamthemorning cast a magical spell over the festival with a set shimmering with beauty and poetry. A minimalist version of the band ‘sans’ string section but they still held the crowd spellbound with Marjana’s gorgeous vocals and Gleb’s mastery of the piano, moving effortlessly between delicate tracery to powerful statements. (Peter Jones of Tiger Moth Tales said to me afterwards that the piano playing was so good it made him sick!… and that’s from a man who’s not too shabby on keyboards either.) They normally play with violin and cello but this ‘stripped down’ version of the band, with Evan Carson and Josh Franklin on drums and bass, still conveyed the magical music of iamthemorning with skill… truly a band “all the way from Russia… and Bedford!” Marjana’s singing was perfect all night and she engaged the crowd with her wit and humour, emphasising the tension between the often crystalline and beautiful nature of the songs with the rather disturbing subject matter, for instance, Romance is introduced as a song “about how beautiful it is to be a sociopath”. Similarly she tells us that Matches is a “song dedicated to arson”, while another song is about a “multiple personality disorder”. Madness never sounded quite so delicate and beautiful. Considering that most of the audience appeared unfamiliar with iamthemorning’s material, they were quickly won over through the sheer force of their undoubted musical skill, passion and charming presentation. Gleb is a marvel on piano and interchanges well with the rhythm section. Marjana admits that they are typically Russian with “miserable songs about pain and death”, but the crowd respond very warmly and this small corner of Wales is temporarily transformed into St. Petersburg! Great call from the organisers to book this unconventional but fascinating band.

Setlist:
To Human Misery
Scotland
Romance
5/4
I.be.too
Circles
Crowded Corridors
Harmony
Matches
Chalk and Coal
K.O.S.
~ Encore:
Os Lunatum

Line up:
Gleb Kolyadin – Piano
Marjana Semkina – Vocals
~ With:
Evan Carson – Drums
Josh Franklin – Bass

Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter |
Soundcloud | Bandcamp |
YouTube | Instagram

Jez: The first of the expected highlights of the weekend, iamthemorning have developed into a compelling live act with Marjana Semkina an engaging and capable front. It’s a given that her voice is a thing of beauty, and coupled with Gleb Kolyadin’s classically trained piano work it’s a marriage made in heaven. With a stripped down quartet line-up, somewhat carelessly losing the string section that appeared at recent shows, material from all three albums shimmer brilliantly, as do the faces of Gleb and the rhythm section; Marjana’s work with the face paint? Behind her mic stand, bedecked with flowers as usual, Marjana twirls and dances barefoot, enthralling the audience with her darkly comical song introductions. Even the upbeat songs are about insanity. They’re a class act and deserve to be playing much larger venues than this so we were damn lucky to see them in the cosy confines of the Drill Hall. Spellbinding.

Mel: The stage was quickly set for the wonderful and enchanting iamthemorning, appearing tonight without the string section, Marjana Semkina pointing out that they lost them on route from their last concert! They easily established themselves, captivating the audience with their piano driven music excellently supported by the rhythm section, allowing Marjana’s voice to soar and weave its magic as she moved and danced gracefully around the stage, at times just sitting to let the music speak for itself. It quickly became evident that we had just stepped up a gear, the band’s professional but friendly approach to their music taking the night to another level. Marjana has an engaging, almost innocent rapport with the audience; also she is very funny as she introduces songs about “madness and death”. But who would believe that such subject matter could be addressed using such beautiful and at times touching music? That said, iamthemorning bring moments of power and purpose to their music, Gleb Kolyadin’s playing sounding like he has more than the required ten fingers (I did go to the front to check, he does only have the standard number), his runs and embellishments were astonishing, even more so during his short solo spot. A very special and enchanting set, holding the crowd in a spell which the music appeared to have cast from the stage. A night to remember indeed.

Tony: Finally, chips and mayo consumed, iamthemorning, the Russian progressive chamber music ensemble whose albums bring me so much pleasure despite lyrics that deal with and seek to address the issues of mental health. She sings, they, the audience, are imprisoned, willingly giving themselves to Marjana Semkina’s voice, whether sung or spoken, rapt. This is the slightly pared version of the band as the strings have gone elsewhere, but a clear demonstration that less can be more, further proven later in the set where only Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana hold the stage. The words are right, we do need to try to understand mental health more, but when matched with the music the words can inspire and uplift. Never been so cheerful listening to a tune about an arsonist, or Scotland (but not about Scotland), and Chalk and Coal, a torch song that sends shivers down my spine every time. With each introduction like hungry dogs we hang, a remarkable understanding of the British psyche and dark sense of humour. I really hope it is not too long for more from iamthemorning, or even the pleasure of hearing them live again. A brilliant end to the first night of Summer’s End.

Phil: Just great music performed by a superb band with a witty and enigmatic Marjana Semkina fronting them – Nice.


[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


Saturday, 7th October 2017

A lovely day greets us as we drive back into Chepstow, park up and stroll to the Drill Hall. It promises to be a good day but it’s an unexpected highlight to start…


Weend’ô (F)

Tony: Saturday; post breakfast, the machinations of mice, men and bowls of fruit, we arrive at The Drill Hall, Weend’ô have started and the powerful voice that is Laetitia Chaudemanche is demanding that I come and listen. It’s a wow, reminding me of Guesch Patti & Encore, it balances on the proverbial knife edge with both power and poise; without words the band of Térence Nguyen, Maxime Rami and Nathanaël Buis demonstrate a beautiful musicality, paired with Laetitia they become perfection. Yeah, okay, I am enamoured yet again by a great female voice. Yes, I bought their latest, Time of Awakening, and it is a cordon bleu banquette of sound. Do I recommend? Oh yes indeedy.

Jez: I certainly didn’t know much about Weend’ô beforehand, having noted to myself that I needed to investigate their music but never quite getting round to it, but their performance has inspired me to rectify that asap. They played a fascinating set with Laetitia Chaudemanche as the focal point, whether singing beautifully or at her keyboards, her solo piano piece a captivating experience. The band’s music does not fall into easy categorisation, an intriguing amalgam that moved from delicate to much more muscular, the band possessing all the necessary skills to pull it all off with panache. Another highlight of the weekend but from an unexpected source.

Setlist:
Time of Awakening (parts 1,2 & 3)
Angel Dust
Experience
Welcome In My Mind
Elea (parts 1 & 2)

Line up:
Laetitia Chaudemanche – Vocals, Keyboards
Térence Nguyen – Guitar
Maxime Rami – Bass
Nathanaël Buis – Drums

Links:
Website | Facebook |
Bandcamp

Leo: Saturday dawns and I have the choice of going to see French Band Weend’ô or meeting my cousin who lives in Chepstow. We only ever see each other at funerals so decided to meet up for a cuppa under other circumstances for a change, although it felt strange without cucumber sandwiches and a eulogy. I hear Weend’ô were very good and I’m sorry to have missed them… but hey, at least no-one died!

Weendo - photo by Tony Colvill

[Photos by Tony Colvill]


Karibow (D)

Tony: Followed by Karibow, my festival fever took hold. Straight rock to my ears, typical of The Scorpions or Michael Schenker, but perhaps I do them an injustice. The sound for this was not ideal, the drums a tad too loud for me, I retreated to a beer, and subsequently the car park, where deep and meaningful Prog Chats™ were taking place.

Jez: Having heard good things about Karibow I was looking forward to seeing them play live, but ultimately they didn’t do a great deal for me, which is a shame as they went down well in the hall. Very professional and cohesive, but being unfamiliar with their music I found it quite straightforward and lacking in much in the way of dynamics, the exceptions being the magnificent saxophone contributions of guest performer Marek Arnold (who is fast becoming a festival regular having played SE in recent years with Damanek, Seven Steps to the Green Door and The United Progressive Fraternity), which lifted proceedings greatly by adding a jazzy edge. Band leader Oliver Rüsing looks every inch the rock god, but his vocals didn’t carry the same power today and ultimately left me waiting for the next band. Maybe not a representative show for the band but you can’t win ’em all!

Setlist:
Here
My Time Of Your Life
E.G.O.
River
Black Air
Never Last
Quantum Leap

Line up:
Oliver Rüsing – Lead Vocals,
Guitar, Keyboards
Jörg Eschrig – Guitars
Gerald Nahrgang – Drums
Thomas Wischt – Bass
~ With:
Marek Arnold – Saxophone,
Keyboards

Links:
Website | Facebook | YouTube

Leo: The next band, Karibow, had to compete with my wife’s interest in shoe shops. Taking my dear wife to her first Progressive Rock festival was always a bit of a stretch, but to be fair she was remarkably amenable to the whole affair… but when it came to either choosing Karibow or shoe shopping there was always going to be one winner! I did catch the end of the Karibow show and in all honesty I enjoyed the shoes more… really not my thing at all. My wife’s new shoes were nice though!

Karibow - photo by Tony Colvill


[Photos by Tony Colvill & David Glaves]


Maschine (UK)

Jez: Was it really 2011 when a fresh-faced band called Concrete Lake appeared at SE to play their first “proper” gig? Guitarist Luke Machin and bassist Dan Mash have appeared at the festival a number of times since with other acts, but after changing the band name to Maschine and releasing two albums it’s about time that they returned with their own project. And what a difference the intervening experiences have made. That first show was great but they have now grown in stature and confidence and from the start there was a feeling that this was going to be special. There’s a heaviness in their music which the band clearly relish, and the playing by all concerned is top rate, but Dan Mash adds an unusually funky groove which sets the band apart, a great bass player who not only drives the music along but drops in fascinating embellishments at every turn. The fluidity of Luke Machin’s playing is as always jaw-dropping as he peels of spiralling runs with a smile, and to cap it all the beautiful voice of Marie-Eve de Gaultier sails above. A slight niggle over the volume levels (I believe they used their own sound man), but another great performance from a young band who are destined to take the genre forward.

Leo: Luke Machin’s scintillating guitar is the star of Maschine, previously known as Concrete Lake. They put on a classy set of flowing, funky and intricate rock with Daniel Mash great on bass… so why did I stupidly and somewhat strangely not pay them the respect and attention they obviously deserve, as I belatedly discovered the quality of their set half way through? Sometimes with so much music one can become a little blasé about bands, and frankly I can only apologise to Luke, Daniel and band – I won’t make that mistake with them next time! I may have to leave it to others to do them justice as my mind was elsewhere.

Setlist:
Resistance
Night And Day
Make Believe
Hidden In Plain Sight
A New Reality
Megacyma
~ Encore:
Eyes, Pt.1
Eyes, Pt.2
Rubidium

Line up:
Luke Machin – Guitars, Vocals
Daniel Mash – Bass, Vocals
Marie-Eve de Gaultier –
Keyboards, Vocals
Elliott Fuller – Guitars
James Stewart – Drums

Links:
Website | Facebook

Tony: I had caught Maschine at HRH Prog last year, but only the last three songs due to overlapping sets. I really enjoyed the Luke Machin led outfit today, but felt the sound let them down a little, again I found the drums a little too loud, perhaps I’m just getting old. Maschine along with Kyros who followed later in the weekend are young bands that I want to explore. Prog audiences are often very conservative in their taste, and this is new. Our heroes are old, some are gone, the music remains, and the melody lingers on. All well and good, but bands like Maschine, Kyros, and Verbal Deliruim (who were not here but have previously played at Summer’s End) are the new order, prog’s future seems in safe hands.


[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


Frost* (UK)

Leo: The now legendary Frost* somewhat unusually kick off the Saturday evening’s entertainment and engulf the audience in an avalanche of modern prog in a packed (and rather steamy) venue. Towerblock from their latest album throbs with samples and electronic rhythms in a pulsing example of how truly progressive rock does not have to rely on the tropes of the more traditional ‘Prog’ sounds of the ’70s. However, Frost*’s performance and mood seems a little distracted by sound problems (and perhaps rather too much volume?). There are times when it all becomes a little overwhelming for some as wave after wave of musical dexterity and complexity sweeps around the hall. (Indeed, my aforementioned wife wilts under the barrage of sound and trickery and manages the remarkable achievement of falling asleep… but that may also be due to a rather nice pre-gig curry and a very, very hard week teaching, to be fair!). Thankfully for Frost* the vast majority of the crowd are rather less underwhelmed and more awake as Jem Godfrey, John Mitchell, Nathan King and Craig Blundell dazzle with musical skill, power and wit. Craig Blundell thunders his way brilliantly through a drum solo in conjunction with synth patterns and the encore sees the sonic landslide of tremendous non-album epic The Dividing Line overwhelm the Summer’s End audience… Progtastic!

Tony: So curry, then Frost*, the band that swung my ticket purchase. The curry was one of the best, good company and that comfortable feeling of contentment. Loved Frost*, great performance and I can only take the word of my compatriots that they have been better. With a set mostly from Falling Satellites I was delighted; great harmonies, and the superb drumming of Craig Blundell. John Mitchell was great on lead guitar, though I sensed that his demeanour was not entirely jolly. Something to do with being from Reading? Oops, I was born there! Ah, that’s why I’m grumpy.

Setlist:
First Day
Numbers
Towerblocks
Signs
Lights Out
Heartstrings
Closer to the Sun
The Raging Against the Dying of the Light Blues in 7/8
Nice Day for It…
Hypoventilate
Last Day
~ Encore:
The Dividing Line
The Other Me (with extended
guitar & drum solos)

Line up:
Craig Blundell – Drums
Jem Godfrey – Vocals, Keyboards
Nathan King – Bass, Vocals
John Mitchell – Guitars, Vocals

Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Jez: Slick and professional but ultimately quite a soulless experience, Frost* no longer seem to have the infectious enthusiasm that I remember from a previous show I’d seen in their earlier days. The performances were spot on but it just felt a little too much like ‘business’; I’m not naive enough to think that this wouldn’t be the main driver for them but Jem Godfrey and John Mitchell appeared a little grumpy. That might be unfair but their choice to play the last but one slot of the day, usually given to special guests, possibly so they could get home early, smacked a bit of ‘lets get this over with’. That’s not to say that they didn’t play well – they did – but the decision to use their own sound man rather than the festival’s own was a bad move. This seldom goes well and in this case it was very loud – too loud, the only band of the weekend that I needed my ear plugs for. I don’t understand the quest for volume where, in the case of a band like Frost*, it muffles a lot of the detail that sets them apart, hiding it within an already dense sound. Having drummer extraordinaire Craig Blundell on board should have been the icing on the cake, but unlike Gavin Harrison’s recent stint with The Pineapple Thief, most of the subtleties were lost. He played some great stuff but overall it didn’t really work for me. And as Frost* left the building it appeared that they took a good chunk of the audience with them, rather unfair to the following band and a great shame as they missed something really special.

Frost* - photo by Leo Trimming

Phil: Craig Blundell’s Drum Solo: I was really looking forward to Saturday’s headline act, Frost*. I’m not massively familiar with their back catalogue but I’ve liked what I heard, but they could have played anything, to be honest, and I’d have been happy. I’m a fan of Craig Blundell. The audience may not appreciate this: Mr Blundell is possibly one of the best drummers to have sat behind a kit since Buddy Rich. I stopped him in his tracks, in the dark, in an unfamiliar car park in Chepstow outside the Drill Hall to shake his hand and tell him so, like the stumpy, creepy little Welsh stalker I am. I’d already heard him say to the rest of Frost* that he was desperate to get away. I stopped him anyway. He was gracious and polite and hid his fear well to give me time that I probably didn’t deserve. I was Wayne and Garth to his Alice. Sorry, Craig Blundell. Watching him play his solo, using MIDI triggers to play other sounds, listening to the count, 1 to 9 then other sequences of numbers over the top, and then another, helped me get a tiny insight into what is happening inside his head. Jem Godfrey and John Mitchell counted along – or tried – clearly in awe of their band-mate’s mathematically astonishing drum solo. And Nathan King’s Carbon Fibre Bass Guitar: I mean, phwoaarrr!


[Photos by Leo Trimming]


Franck Carducci Band (F)

Leo: Just WOW!!!

Fantastic set of superbly played rock by Franck and his wonderful band, an exciting, amusing, enchanting and fabulously entertaining performance. Brilliant musicianship and outstanding showmanship, particularly Mary ‘Alice’ Reynaud in rather alluring style!
This was sheer psychedelic rock’n’roll circus with the band feeding off a rapturous crowd enthralled by their spectacular show. Franck kicked off with new song Superstar, ironically dressed like some sort of hammy rock star, and immediately had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Other new songs include the virtually a capella On the Road to Nowhere, The Angel and Deja Vu Airport, which all bodes well for the next album. Mary Reynaud was beguiling and beautiful with her singing and use of the Rainstick. Her sensuous and rather unorthodox method of playing the theremin certainly gained her a lot of attention and raised the pulses of more than few in the crowd! The grand highlight of the show was a rather risque version of the Alice in Wonderland story in Alice’s Eerie Dream which witnessed Carducci in a ridiculously huge Mad Hatter’s hat (as copied by some crowd members… including myself!). Reynaud was in a particularly eye catching (!) costume as this dramatic song showed off the great guitar skills of Steve Marsala and Christophe Obadia, as already seen in their epic guitar duel during Achilles. The Circus Ringmaster of the show was Franck Carducci on bass, 12-string guitar and vocals. The crowd went absolutely bananas, and justifiably so. Many in the crowd were unfamiliar with their material beforehand but such was the impact that it is doubtful any left that show not being a new fan of Franck and his incredible band. This was a spectacular show visually and musically, with a perfect and not overwhelming balance (take note other bands). It’s safe to say that my wife was very much NOT asleep for this show and was at the front wearing silly hats with the best of them by the end. If they play anywhere near where you live just do yourselves a favour, go and see them. Undoubtedly the band of the weekend so far, in fact one of the best bands I’ve ever seen at Summer’s End!! C’est Magnifique.

Setlist:
Superstar
The After Effect
Achilles
Medley – The Quind/Journey Through the Mind/A Brief Tale of Time/The Last Oddity
On The Road To Nowhere
The Angel
Déjà Vu Airport
Alice’s Eerie Dream
~ Encore:
Artificial Paradises (Part 2)
Eclipse (Pink Floyd cover)

Line up:
Franck Carducci – Bass, 12-string Guitar, Lead Vocals
Christophe Obadia – Electric
Guitar, Didgeridoo, Theramin, Vocals
Olivier Castan – Keyboards, Vocals
Steve Marsala – Electric & 12-string Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
Mary Reynaud – Lead & Backing Vocals, Rainstick, Theramin,
tambourine
Antoine Nino Reina – Drums,
Vocals

Links:
Website | Facebook |
Bandcamp

Tony: Last for Saturday was The Franck Carducci Band, hats to the fore. I left mine in the accommodation, bother. Franck and his cohorts deliver a unique blend of Prog, Rock ‘n’ Roll and theatre. This is a tight band and there is no let up throughout their set. I was a little saddened that part of the audience for Frost* departed and missed it, Franck and company deserved the full crowd. The storm came and passed too soon; Mary Reynaud sang beautifully, and graced the stage with beauty too. Her sensual dance with the Theremin was discussed post gig until the early hours, then at breakfast, and at points throughout Sunday. The climax of the band’s performance was Alice’s Eerie Dream, a retelling of the Wonderland tale from Monsieur Carducci’s unique perspective. The music is Franck’s but the stage belongs to Mary. Franck breathes music, it courses through his veins, his spirit so obviously soars in live performance. Any chance you get, see.

Jez: Well, what to say about this one, other than it was probably the best performance in purely entertainment terms I’ve ever seen by anyone. As the SE PR blurb has it, “one of the best – and most colourfully extravagant – live acts playing today” – and it doesn’t lie. A cunning mix of psychedelic prog and hard rock, it’s all played with quicksilver technique, but the theatrical presentation is what makes it fly. Central to this are the rock star shapes thrown by guitarist Christophe Obadia whenever the opportunity arises, Mary Reynaud who is a vision of loveliness with a voice to match, and of course Franck himself in his trademark hat. As a newbie I didn’t know what to expect but Franck and his band were utterly brilliant and I’ll definitely be making a point to try and catch them the next time they tour. Mary indulged in a number of costume changes, the sight of her playing the theramin with, lets not be coy about it, her breasts whilst dressed as a belly dancer was a thing, as was the occasion where the glorious and gently swaying nymphette manipulated her rainstick. The ensuing sound might well have been that of a hundred or more middle-aged testicles imploding, but I can’t confirm this. There were classic riff guitar duels, singalongs, six part harmonies and even a didgeridoo solo; this is the kind of show that needs to be seen on more than one occasion. Seriously good stuff and F-U-N too! At a prog fest?!

Phil: The best rock show this side of The Tubes. Drop everything and go and see them. That is all.


[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


Sunday, 8th October 2017

Seconds out, Round Three, and back to the steamy Drill Hall for more of the same, and then some, starting with…

Half Past Four (CAN)

Jez: When the line-up for this Summer’s End was released the band that immediately caught my eye and caused me to issue a small yelp of delight was Half Past Four. SE often manages to book bands that I never thought I’d get to see, and these Canadians certainly fit that bill. Having been introduced to their music in 2010 via their debut Rabbit in the Vestibule (released in 2008), I immediately fell in love with them and have followed them enthusiastically, through second album Good Things and on to last year’s Land of the Blind EP. And here they are! I am genuinely excited. I knew they’d be great, and they didn’t disappoint in any way, putting on a bloody marvellous performance of their upbeat and energetic brand of quirky yet accessible music. Kyree Vibrant not only possesses a quite spectacular voice with an unbelievable range, she’s also a fantastic front, commanding attention amidst the maelstrom thrown up by the instrumental quartet. The playing throughout is just stunning and the songs come to life through Kyree’s delivery. Landmines, Biel, Rabbit, Bamboo and all the others are delivered with masses of confidence and slide-rule precision, Vibrant dancing manically during the instrumental sections with bassist Dmitry Lesov, who takes the lead vocals for the brilliantly strange Mood Elevator. With Constantin Necrasov peeling out buzzsaw guitar against the complex keyboard patterns of Igor Kurtzman, Lesov and new drummer Adrian Garcia driving it all along, it’s a fantastically enjoyable and good-natured performance that immediately endeared HPF to the crowd and left me grinning from ear to ear. I could watch this band for hours and hope against hope that I’ll get to see them again sometime soon. Highlight of another great festival for me.

Setlist:
It Strikes You
Johnny
Mathematics
Landmines
Mood Elevator
All Day and All night
Biel
Cool Water
One Eyed Man
The Earth
Rabbit
Bamboo

Line up:
Constantin Necrasov – Guitar
Dmitry Lesov – Bass, Vocals
Igor Kurtzman – Keyboards
Kyree Vibrant – Vocals
Adrian Garcia – Drums

Links:
Website | Facebook |
Bandcamp

Mel: Due to the appalling diversion planning for the closure of the Malpas tunnel on the M4, we missed the bulk of the set from Toronto’s Half Past Four (thanks for that Highways Commission!). Finally arriving with only three songs left I was instantly stuck at how good this band are, with their unique blend of jazzy rock, edgy rhythms and a punky feel to the delivery, thus realising that I had missed a top quality performance.

Half Past Four - photo by David Glaves

Tony: Sunday, last day of a busy and joyous weekend; knackered and still today to get through. It’s 12:30 but it’s also Half Past Four, Canadian Prog of nearly two decades standing – mad, “bad” and really good to know. Quirky is probably the best descriptive, unique, and in terms of the genres that prog subsumes, hardly a scrap was missed. The perfect beginning for today’s musical journey, stand out tracks were Bamboo, One Eyed Man and Mood Elevator, but there was much to enjoy and another album purchase ensued.

Phil: The surprise discovery of the event for me. I love a bit of 5/4 played by virtuosos on a Sunday afternoon. I had gone to just soak up the vibe of this festival but the mostly Canadian band, Half Past Four, made me bob my head, stamp my foot, clap my hands, dig out my smart phone and make notes. And what a lovely suit. The charming and powerful singer, Kyree Vibrant, with more energy than a thing with lots of energy, made me want to participate in the show and when questioned, confess to anything. I did. Twice – and I am no astronaut (you had to be there). Dmitry “Les” Lesov, the bassist, is also a virtuoso with the stage presence of a potentially fictitious bass playing younger brother of Frank Zappa, and is evidently the secret love-child of Primus’s Les Claypool (the clue is in the name). This band was just a delight to watch and hear. I was fortunate to speak with Kyree afterwards in the bar and she is charming, witty, funny and gracious. A wonderful show performed by beautiful people. That’s the way to get fans.

Leo: Sadly, I missed the Canadian band Half Past Four because at Half Past Twelve I was dropping my wife to Bristol Parkway railway station – by all accounts I missed a treat so I wished they’d stuck more to their band name and played at 4.30!


[Photos by Tony Colvill & David Glaves]


Elephants of Scotland (USA)

Mel: Half Past Four were followed by Elephants of Scotland, from Vermont which, according to keyboardist Adam Rabin, is like “Wales but with cows instead of sheep” so they “felt at home”. The band presented a self-assured set, Adam alternating vocals with guitar player John Whyte, who I felt had the better voice, reminiscent at times of Geddy Lee. They played a selection of songs from their four studio albums, also playing a new song based around a poem written by the drummer’s brother, who had recently passed away, providing a touching tribute.

Jez: Another unexpected package for me, Elephants of Scotland put on an engaging show which grew in stature as it progressed. Immediately comfortable, they delivered their own brand of prog with real style and wit, keyboardist Adam Rabin sharing lead vocals with guitarist John Whyte. If I’m honest I thought that John’s voice worked best for me, but that’s a minor point as the whole band worked very well together within a great sound. It was relaxed, fun and full of laughs; as accessories go, the matching tartan viking helmet look has never been so cool. There were more sombre moments too, such as the new piece based around a poem written by drummer Ornan McLean’s brother, who sadly passed away recently. The band were clearly enjoying the opportunity to play the event and made a lot of friends in the process. Certainly a band that I am going to look into further.

Setlist:
Endless pt 1
Full Power
Sun-dipped Orphans and the
Wizards Tea Pot
Mousetrap
the Perfect Map
Home Away From Home
Seven Birds of Carrion
Amber Waves
Starboard

Line up:
Adam Rabin – Vocals, Keyboards
John Whyte – Guitar, Vocals
Bob Gagnon – Bass
Ornan McLean – Drums

Links:
Website | Facebook |
Bandcamp

Tony: Who’s next? Elephants of Scotland? Right, are they bad pachyderms? No, they are very good, very amusing too, and lovely chaps to speak to post performance. Their Genesis chops shine through in the passages and phrasing, but rather than pastiche they are really quite wonderful. Sadly the day’s pennies have been spent on Weend’ô and Half Past Four, but the tartan trunky will find space amongst my music sometime, another bizarre request on my Christmas list…

Leo: It turns out that this band are neither pachyderms nor from anywhere near Scotland – they are a talented progressive rock band from Vermont, U.S.A., making their debut in the U.K. They entertained the crowd with quirky and excellently played music and affable charm, plus a nice line in self-deprecating humour: “Some call us a Neo-Prog band, an American Neo-Prog band, like Neo-Prog but just a little bit more obnoxious!” They also sported on one song some rather fetching woolly Viking helmets! However, it was not all quips as the band showed they can certainly play. They chose a selection from their career, including the wonderfully titled Sun-dipped Orphans and the Wizard’s Teapot from their most recent album, The Perfect Map. John Whyte was outstanding on guitar and some surprisingly delicate vocals, alongside the vocals and fine keyboard skills of Adam Rabin (but was slipping in a few bars of Genesis’ Stagnation really necessary when you’ve got fine songs of you own, lads?!). Bob Gagnon recently joined the band on bass and played well in conjunction with Ornan Mclean. Rather touchingly and bravely they played a brand new epic called Seven Birds of Carrion based on a poem written by McLean’s brother, who sadly died last year. A promising and entertaining set, they’re welcome back from Vermont to Wales any time…or maybe even Scotland?!


[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


Kyros (UK)

Leo: This ambitious young band put on a remarkable and assured set of powerful, multi-layered modern progressive rock. Formerly known as Synaesthesia, mainly featuring Adam Warne on keyboards with various studio collaborators including Michael Holmes of IQ, they have since evolved into a full-blown band and changed their name to Kyros. Blasting into their set, Warne is all over his keyboards like a deranged Dr. Frankenstein, particularly on Technology Killed the Kids I & II. However, they show an accessible, almost commercial slant with the anthemic Cloudburst. The song which gave this listener perhaps the most joy (and to my mind the best song of the set) was drawn from their Synaesthesia debut album as Warne confidently sang out the catchy and rocking Sacrifice. Throughout the show Sam Higgins and Joey Frevola swapped guitar licks with skill in a fine double guitar attack. Frevola even duelled with Warne’s keyboards at one point, and impressive bassist Peter Episcopo also showed instrumental diversity by playing keyboards later in the set. The show thundered forward with titanic drums from Robin Johnson (perhaps a little too titanic at times!) and overall one has to wonder whether this young band may need to learn that sometimes ‘less is more’ when it comes to volume. Nevertheless, the band was intent on putting on an exciting show, in somewhat steamy conditions! Alongside some of their more pile-driving moments they showed subtle prog tendencies, such as in the multi-faceted eccentricity of The Lamb, the Badger and the Bee, with Episcopo and Higgins joining Warne on vocals to represent the three characters. Kyros finished their set by playing the entire 46-minutes of The Human Voice from the second CD of their excellent Vox Humana album, without interruption – as Episcopo announced: “It’s pretty intense, so fasten your seat belts!” He wasn’t kidding! A very ambitious move by this relatively new band as the great majority of the audience may not have been familiar with their material, and then to hit them with a 45-minute slab of complex, epic and high-powered modern progressive rock was asking a lot – but you cannot fault them for imagination and sheer balls! It was spectacular and rocking, brimming with ideas and fizzing with electricity, fairly sweeping you along on a tidal wave of tumultuous excitement.

Setlist:
Vox Humana (Intro)
Technology Killed the Kids II
Cloudburst
Technology Killed the Kids
Sacrifice
The Lamb, the Badger & the Bee
The Human Voice:
– i) Mind Electric
– ii) Speak to Me
– iii) Persistence of Perfection
– iv) Monster
– v) Hounds
– vi) The Darkness Grove
– vii) Boiling Point
– viii) Ego
– ix) Dilate

Line up:
Adam Warne – Lead Vocals,
Keyboards
Joey Frevola – Guitars
Sam Higgins – Guitars,
Backing Vocals
Peter Episcopo – Bass,
Backing Vocals
Robin Johnson – Drums &
Percussion

Links:
Website | Facebook

One observation I might make is that sometimes an audience needs to catch its breath and perhaps a little more subtlety and restraint might occasionally not go amiss… but, hey, what do I know – that may just be my age showing! This was truly a band laying it all out there, powerfully engulfing the venue in their wall of complex sound. The future of progressive rock is in good hands from the evidence of this confident, skilled and ROCKING show by this young band!

Jez: Kyros are a band that I’ve been aware of for some time without ever having heard, which is very remiss of me, and having now been exposed to them they are certainly worthy of further investigation. Like Maschine, this is the kind of youthful energy that we need more of in order to spread the genre to a wider audience, and it was clear that there were a number of younger people present just for them. Hopefully their forthcoming tour will be a success and not only attended by the usual suspects. It’s a forward thinking move by SE to incorporate these younger bands into the festival as they are the future, but I wonder if to a large extent audiences want their bands to be people like them, young punters enjoy seeing youthful acts, older punters are convinced they aren’t as good as the veterans. No evidence of this today though as Kyros went down very well in the hall, their vigorous enthusiasm winning over the crowd. With a dynamic sound that used heaviness well, sitting near the mixing desk I thought that their own sound man had pushed the volume levels too high – a common problem – but the performance was top notch, particularly from Adam Warne’s confident singing and Peter Episcopo’s animated presence. All of the band stepped up and it was a vibrant show, incorporating some fine material that the sound levels didn’t quite do justice to. Finishing with a run through of the whole of the second disc of their Vox Humana album was a brave move, but underlines the confidence and abilities on show. Certainly ones to watch in the next few years.

Mel: After a short break we had a set from Kyros, full of youthful exuberance, although I felt their sound mix did not do them any favours. It sounded too dense with the volume a little too high, the result being that it was difficult to hear the keyboards and the vocals with a lot of the melodies lost. Maybe they would have benefited from the experience of SE sound man Nick in creating the best sound for this hall rather than using their own guy. That said, this is a clearly talented bunch of young men who appear to have added harder, heavier touches since their Synaesthesia days.

Tony: After the Elephants of Scotland came Kyros (previously the wonderful Synaesthesia, love that album still). This is a young band, progressive youth, and giving due credit, they are very interesting without being derivative. Lots of energy, improving vocals as Adam Warne’s voice matures, odd socks, interesting riffs and much more. Playing predominantly from their album Vox Humana, I was enchanted by their performance. Not a find of the weekend, that goes to Weend’ô and Half Past Four, but one to watch, and if this bunch of lads can sustain their momentum they are liable to be big, could even achieve Muse status.


[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


TangeKanic (The Tangent & Karmakanic) (S/UK)

Mel: With a two hour break before the joint headliners of Karmakanic and The Tangent, we returned early and were lucky to be able to find a seat in the hall and watch the sound check. This proved to be an enjoyable experience, witnessing the band members banter with each other and Nick the sound man, in particular Jonas Reingold’s vocal sound check where he informed the small collection of fans of his country’s historical Viking past and their antics during visits to these shores. Luke Machin sound checked with some lovely fluid guitar lines, causing Andy Tillison to give the tongue in cheek remark “Yes, I hate him too!”. A short run through from two songs, everyone happy and ready to go. The show itself was a mixed set from both bands’ catalogues with a short midpoint break. We were treated to some wonderful music, Karmakanic’s God, the Universe and Everything Else No One Really Cares About, Parts 1 and 2 being played in its 30-minute entirety. The standard of musicianship was superb, each member responding and playing off each other, all at the top of their game. Yes, there was the odd mistake here and there, but it was all dealt with in good humour and little fuss. Another highlight was the instrumental Doctor Livingstone (I Presume), the band moving effortlessly through the song. After the break Andy and Theo Travis took the stage, Theo giving us a rare solo spot of looping flute before being joined by Andy for the pair to give a wonderful rendition of The Music That Died Alone. Andy then introduced an improv based on a poem he had written, Sanctuary in Music, a reflection of the tragic events at the music festival in Las Vegas recently, plus those previously at Manchester Arena and the Bataclan in Paris. He requested a 30-second silence as the middle eight, which was perfectly observed, the rest of the band subsequently joining in to express their musical thoughts on these events with the audience encouraged to join in with theirs. Overall this was a magnificent performance to end the festival, skillful, happy and enjoyable, the band clearly enjoying the experience and this was reflected in the crowd response.

Tony: A long break, dinner, mad chat, and back for the beast of a band, a chimera of Karmakanic and The Tangent. Essentially the same band with different vocalists and complimentary styles. Great from the first note to the last, contemporary jazz, rock, pop, it’s all here, with Theo Travis – saxophonist, flautist and amazing musician – part and parcel of this, a name previously heard but now a proper association has been made. Seamlessly they switched between The Tangent and Karmakanic repertoires, Andy Tillison, Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin all playing up a storm.

Setlist:
Send A Message From the Heart
(Karmakanic)
GPS Culture (The Tangent)
Two Rope Swings (The Tangent)
God, The Universe and Everything Else that Nobody Really Cares
About (Karmakanic)
~ Break
Theo Travis Flute Solo
The Music That Died Alone (Theo & Andy) (The
Tangent)
Sanctuary in Music
A Spark in the Aether (The Tangent)
Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)
(The Tangent)
Steer by the Stars (Karmakanic)
Where Are They Now? (The
Tangent)
Where Earth Meets the Sky
(Karmakanic)

Line up:
Andy Tillison – Keyboards, Vocals
Jonas Reingold – Bass, Vocals
Luke Machin – Guitars, Vocals
Theo Travis – Sax, Flutes
Steve Roberts – Drums
Göran Edman – Vocals

Links:
The Tangent –
Website | Facebook
Karmakanic – Facebook

Jez: This double bill of The Tangent and Karmakanic was a much anticipated end to the festival for me, and as it turned out it was an unexpectedly moving and very special set. The decision to mix the two bands’ sets together was an inspired decision, the inherent differences in style giving a dynamic quality that held the attention throughout. The quality of the musicianship was superb from everyone, Luke Machin once again proving himself to have quicksilver fluidity while new drummer Steve Roberts has slotted in effortlessly. There were some cock-ups and faux pas, always a factor in Tangent shows but a welcome addition as they are dealt with by Andy in such a lovable way. He’s a great focal point and driving force, holding it all together and making it work, often in the face of adversity. I always enjoy his singing, it suits The Tangent’s material perfectly and you know that every word comes from the heart, as in the perfectly pitched Sanctuary In Music which brought everyone present together, unified in defiance of the evil that seems to be everywhere these days. I’m sure I was not the only one with a tear in my eye by the end of it. The Karmakanic songs were sung beautifully by Göran Edman, and again his gorgeous delivery worked well against Andy’s individual style. On the opposite side of the stage, Jonas Reingold is quite probably the driest man in the world, raising laughter with every comment, as well as being an extraordinarily gifted bassman. To cap it all, Theo Travis’ contributions were perfect, a class act in every way, his flute solo a particularly enjoyable section. The pieces played throughout the set were well chosen and delivered with style, the emotion was clear throughout and there were many laughs. A perfect end to another fantastic Summer’s End.

Phil: Frankly, the prospect of listening to two bands or one band, then another that is the same band, for almost 4 hours by the end of the third day seemed… challenging. I should not have been afraid. Andy Tillison and the funniest but driest bass player, Jonas Reingold, made it a very human experience… that and the man I bribed with empty promises of Man Love so that I could steal a chair to sit on after standing with scarcely a break for the entire festival (man of a certain age – dead soon). It genuinely went very quickly… in a good way. The second set from MAKATTACKICANGA (or whatever) opened with Theo Travis, a flute and a looping pedal and it was, for me, a beautiful noise followed by Mr. Tillison’s protest song; Sanctuary in Music. A very moving experience without being maudlin, this was a new song, an experiment in audience participation initially manifesting itself as a poignant and moving silence in tribute to others who, like us, had only wished to revel in a shared and joyous experience and yet found themselves victims of appalling atrocities. The audience excelled themselves by participating in the 30-seconds of absolute pin-drop silence as part of the performance. Then a contrasting bright number to change the mood before back to the Slow Decay Of Rusting Machinery for a bit. A performance that was truly well deserving of headlining status at a prog rock event.

Leo: I published the following on Facebook on the night of this show by this ‘TangeKanic’ melding of The Tangent and Karmakanic, and, to be honest, I see no reason to change it or add to it. Sometimes what we feel and say at the time is enough to convey the spirit of an occasion:

“A week on from Las Vegas…
Andy Tillison of The Tangent struck an apt chord with a song written in the last week with the chorus “Sanctuary in Music”, referring to that tragic shooting and other atrocities such as Manchester Arena. He told the audience the ‘middle eight’ would be 30-seconds silence…
… and this was movingly observed perfectly by the audience who also stood and respected the tribute, remembering the crowd in Las Vegas had also just gone to see a gig as well – powerful and emotional stuff.
TangeKanic mixed up the repertoire of Tangent and Karmakanic songs with wonderful skill and imagination… and even handled their ‘cock ups’ with great wit and humour, as in the wonderful Karmakanic song Send A Message from the Heart. I was more familiar with their melodic material.
Luke Machin dazzled on guitar whilst the legendary Theo Travis weaved his magic on woodwind. Jonas Reingold surprisingly confessed to playing bass on Barbie Girl and combined fine bass playing with dry humoured exchanges with Tillison throughout. Of course, the main focus of the show was the keyboard wizardry, lyrical skill and wholehearted commitment to his art of Tillison, who must be in the echelons of ‘Prog National Treasure’ by now!
I hadn’t previously really ‘got’ The Tangent… but was pleased to tell Andy after that I definitely got them now – they were utterly fantastic.
Tillison repeated his assertion that Summer’s End is the ‘Best Progressive Rock Festival in the world’
… and do you know what? … after a performance (and weekend) like that I think Mr Tillison may have a bloody point…
… now time to track down more albums by The Tangent!!”


[Photos by Tony Colvill & Leo Trimming]


A summing up…

Phil: On the weekend I saw a bunch of bands. The majority of what I heard was great but some, I confess, were not so great for me, and while it is lapped up by some I find that “prog by numbers” is just not my cup of the tea. Sometime the musicians seemed to be fighting as if to make themselves heard and this was no fault of the most excellent mix from the Front of House, rather it seemed to me to be for not looking in that space between the noise that gives nuance and subtlety to music. Sometimes I experienced coherence and beauty from innovative bands who are trying something new. Both types were enjoyed, but not always by the same audience. Sometimes I left the hall simply because the Prog By Numbers bands were a bit too much for me. Others dipped out too, though it would be presumptuous for me to even speculate why they did so. The point is multi-fold, the bands I liked less still went down extremely well with some people and some of those people liked the same bands that I did. Others didn’t like the bands that I liked… but why should anyone condemn any one of those audiences-within-audiences or the bands they enjoyed for what they are doing? Everyone was happy and that’s how I left the festival. That’s the important thing. Andy Tillison’s comment about Summer’s End being the best prog rock festival in the world may be a big claim and I have little with which to compare it, but as Stephen and Huw consistently put together line-ups of this calibre and continue to sneak in these wondrous little moments, then Mr Tillison may well be right.

Leo: To reiterate my comment above, The Tangent’s Andy Tillison asserted that Summer’s End is ‘the best Progressive Rock Festival in the world’, and after a weekend like that I think that Mr Tillison may well be right.

Mel: Another successful festival completed and although I missed the Saturday again this year I thoroughly enjoyed both Friday’s and Sunday’s line-ups. The Tangent and Karmakanic did a wonderful job of closing the festival with an excellent set, but for me this year my highlight must be iamthemorning with their spellbinding and enchanting set which I am sure will have won them a large number of new fans. So well done Stephen and Huw, another excellent festival – roll on next year!

Tony: One cannot deny the efforts of Stephen Lambe and Huw Lloyd-Jones in bringing this diverse international line up together. Every year I hear something new, a fixture in my calendar, see you next year (sans germs).

Jez: Summer’s End continues to be a very special festival for me and it seems to grow in stature every year, not just because of the music but because of the ‘we’re all in it together’ camaraderie. It definitely seemed busier over the whole weekend and the vibe was upbeat and fun yet still relaxed throughout, a contributing factor possibly that more chairs were available this year, a boon to creaky knees! All of the bands were well received, no matter what style they played, and once again there was a good spread of music available and definitely something for everyone. Special mention from me must go to iamthemorning, Weend’ô, The Franck Carducci Band, ‘TangeKanic and the amazing Half Past Four, but all of the bands were enjoyable in their own ways and all received the audience’s resounding appreciation. The unique feel of this lovely event remains intact and, as always, huge thanks to Stephen and Huw and their team for continuing to do this and make a lot of people very happy. It still amazes me that no one in Chepstow seems to know that it’s on, I’m sure that more could be done to get some of the locals interested, particularly because of the calibre of the bands that get to play in this quiet little corner of Wales. As ‘local’ festivals go, I’m glad this is mine!


[All photos by Tony Colvill, Leo Trimming and David Glaves]


LINKS
Summer’s End Festival – Website | Facebook

~ The Artists:
Franck Carducci – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
Elephants of Scotland – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
Frost* – Website | Facebook
Half Past Four – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp
Iamthemorning – Facebook | Bandcamp
Karibow – Website | Facebook
Karmakanic – Facebook
Kyros – Website | Facebook
Maschine – Website | Facebook
Midnight Sun – Facebook
The Tangent – Website | Facebook
This Winter Machine – Website | Facebook
Weend’ô – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp

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