The Lexington, London
7th August 2016
Article by Leo Trimming
Three is a number usually associated with mystical properties inherent in pyramids and the Holy Trinity amongst other things, and on a hot summer night there was an air of musical magic in the air as three fine acts put on a show full of variety and skill for an enthusiastic audience.
Seeing musical prodigy Peter Jones perform live as Tiger Moth Tales is a revelation as he displays the ability to simultaneously play keyboards and guitar whilst also singing excellently, shown in the opening Tiger Moth songs. Peter also connects through his charm and humour, for example playing a few bars of Camel in response to an audience comment about his recent gigs with that band in Japan. His taste for a bit of comedy came later with the music hall lunatic voices of The Merry Vicar.
Peter can emotionally deliver songs with a wonderfully melodic voice, most touchingly shown in the beautiful Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright. His versatility shines with City and the Stars from his outstanding Tales from the Bookcase album with the band Red Bazar, whetting the appetite for their forthcoming gigs. A Tiger Moth Tales set would not be complete without a few classic prog covers, and Peter treats The Lexington to the intro to Genesis’ Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, moving into Carpet Crawlers. This delights the crowd who sing along tunefully, led by this reviewer conducting the harmonies like some sort of Moth Choir Master. This is followed by a sensitive and dramatic rendition of Peter Gabriel’s Family Snapshot. Truly wonderful and a highlight of the event.
Peter later shared that he simply loves singing those classic songs, which is clearly evident in the joy of his performances. The audience clearly love both his covers and his own fine material, the set ending with what has undoubtedly become his own undeniable modern prog classic, the wistful and nostalgic A Visit to Chigwick. The coda lines:
“I Never knew that place,
Born much too late in a different time,
Why does it make me sad,
How can you miss what you never had…?”
evokes a strange feeling of yearning for lost or imagined times, transforming what could have simply been a song of childlike whimsy into a piece that truly touches the listener – whatever their age! It’s a fine way to finish an excellent set, and is met with rapturous applause by a truly captivated crowd.
Tigers In The Butter (excerpt) / Story Tellers
Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright (excerpt)
City And The Stars (Red Bazar song)
Dancing with The Moonlit Knight (Intro) / Carpet Crawlers (Genesis Covers)
Family Snapshot (Peter Gabriel Cover)
The Merry Vicar
A Visit To Chigwick
We are Kin are a relatively young band from Manchester who have already managed to release two remarkably distinctive and mature albums. They show considerable aplomb to confidently follow the enthusiastically received Peter Jones and deliver a fine set with Daniel Zambas on keyboards and guitar leading them with assurance and skill as they draw the listener in with a combination of lovely melodies and more forthright rock inflected sections. They open with the atmospheric torch song-like Exhale, Emma Brewin-Caddy’s beautiful and emotional voice floating over Zambas’ piano. This is a song to bewitch the listener and underlines their interesting fusion of styles. Home Sweet Home, a highlight from debut album Pandora, follows and continues to weave a spell over the room. A different atmosphere falls over the venue, more chilled as they play a selection from both albums. We are Kin bring elements of soul and almost jazz into their music, as shown later in No Evil. Zambas shows his versatility by opening with keyboards before taking up a lovely flowing guitar solo in Reaper from new album …and I know…, ably backed throughout by Lee Braddock on bass and Gary Boast on drums. Some of the songs are stronger than others, and their setlist and skills will develop with more gigs, however their performance belies their relative lack of live gig experience. They leave the best to last with an epic and beguiling rendition of the new album finale Goodbye, with Zambas’ soulful vocals acting as a forerunner before Brewin-Caddy’s fluid voice. This is a song which interweaves different styles and feels, and is truly progressive with no regard for musical boundaries. The show ends with the crowd singing along with the elegiac refrain:
“Follow You Down that Path Once More,
Follow You Down that Path Once More.”
If We are Kin continue to produce such imaginative music and perform with this level of confidence then who knows where they will go, but there will be more fans sure to follow them down their idiosyncratic path.
Home Sweet Home
Tides of Midnight
The Gift complete the evening in fine style with a polished set of classy Progressive Rock. They have been recording a new album and have recruited new members in the last few months, which has clearly injected new energy and power into their music and performance. Reuniting with founding member Leroy James has also added a great double guitar attack to their sound, shown early on as the grand ‘Prog’ intro of Road Runs On ‘Til Morning breaks in to the engaging rock/pop energy of Too Many Hands. Their finest song to date, The Willows, displays all that is good about The Gift’s take on Progressive Rock, it’s rich tapestry of light and dark, soft and heavy woven together with delicate artistry and feeling. It would take a hard hearted listener not to be touched by the part in which children’s sampled voices speculate about the meaning of life:
“Each minute, each second there’ll be someone dying,
So that’s why there are so many stars in the sky.”
Mike Morton then soulfully sings “Where’s the soul, where’s it gone – it keeps me up at night”, followed by an emotional and sinuous guitar outro by David Lloyd, which delighted the crowd.
Mike explained that after a two day hangover (!) he went round to see David Lloyd to write a new song for the next album called At Sea. He leaves the stage as new Italian keyboardist Gabriele Baldocci displays his impressive skills for an epic opening instrumental passage with a particularly significant bass contribution from rock solid Stef ‘Boris Johnson’ Dickers. The song develops in a fascinating way and is met with a great response from the crowd. There have been whispers that this new album will feature contributions from Prog luminaries young and old, and that it includes some outstanding pieces. Until it emerges this remains speculation, but if At Sea is an indication of what is to come from The Gift later this year then there is a great likelihood that it will be the album to deservedly take The Gift onto another level altogether.
The Gift end their set in truly epic fashion as they play two of the three sections of the title song from debut album Awake and Dreaming. Morton explains that the album was written with Leroy James at the time of the Iraq War, and is filled with anger and protest about war, this haunting piece featuring a dream experienced by all the soldiers who then wake up and refuse to fight. The new expanded line-up perform this complex piece with power and skill, new drummer Neil Hayman (also of Konchordat) providing a real powerhouse drive. The only real fault was that Leroy James’ skilful guitar playing was a little too low in the mix, (but his very cool shoes were certainly loud enough!) Mike Morton was in good voice and fronted the set with his usual charm, passion and showmanship, particularly on this dramatic piece. The live performance really instilled chilling and thought provoking life into this closing number, and provided a triumphant ending for the event.
The only elephant in the room for this evening, apart from Bad Elephant Record’s boss David Elliott, was that such a talented array of bands truly deserved a full house. There may be lessons to be learned from scheduling such an excellent event on a hot Sunday in August on the same weekend as two major festivals in striking distance of London, both of which featured significant Prog stages. There are only so many punters and so many pounds to stretch. However, for anyone who missed this event please be assured that if there is a repeat of something similar then it would be a real shame to miss the magic and music in The Power of Three as it was a special evening.
Anyone up for the ‘Masquerade’ in December in London. including The Gift and Franck Carducci?!!
I Sing of Change (Sample Intro)
Road Runs On ‘Til Morning (Intro) / Too Many Hands
At Sea (unreleased new song)
Walk into the Water
Awake and Dreaming (Pts 1-4)
Awake and Dreaming (Pts 9 – 12)
Article by Tony Colvill
Radio Stations ignore Progressive music, well most of them, and those that don’t tend to focus on the ancient and a few key players; the stalwarts, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, or the “Neo” prog of Porcupine Tree, IQ or Marillion. They are missing a lot of very fine music. The three on this bill for a start, and others like Tail Feather, Secrets for September and Drifting Sun. But what is Prog, or even progressive music? It is certainly an ill-defined genre with elements of metal, classical, jazz, torch, in fact it probably combines the majority of every other genre, and where it doesn’t you can make a safe bet that somewhere out there a band or artist has tried to squeeze something in. To the cognoscenti it is a luxuriant, usually long form of music that enriches the senses; to the rest an unlistenable noise that doesn’t get to the point. TPA tries to cover all, sometimes at the cost of our sanity, plus the music that doesn’t easily fit into any genre that we think might be of interest to the reader. It’s a chore, but someone has to…
So here I find myself on a hot summer’s night offering my throat to the wolf with the red red rose near Pentonville Prison in The Lexington, a pub with no ale (sob!) – fizzy lager, but no ale – to see these three bands, all very different but quite the same in that they don’t really want to be pigeon holed.
Tiger Moth Tales are – or is – the vehicle of Peter Jones, multi-instrumentalist and downright clever clogs. Sickening isn’t it? The Mothster is as charming as he is talented; at times whimsical, others menacing, light and dark but brilliant to the last. Tonight he serves us up some Tiger Moth Tales, Red Bazar, Genesis and Peter Gabriel, all delivered with aplomb as the audience sing along to Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Carpet Crawlers and Family Snapshot, together with TMT songs that include The Merry Vicar and Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright, a tear in the eye, plus The City & The Stars from his album with Red Bazar. Peter’s between songs banter shows his personality – quite mad really, but utterly brilliant – and for those of you wanting more, catch up with Peter on Progzilla Internet Radio where his show is also available as a podcast. He mixes it up the way that the main stream of Planet Rock and Team Rock do not, so there is much to be gained by seeking out this broadcast. I loved it all, and the inclusion of The City & The Stars made my night.
We Are Kin are chalk to TMT’s cheese; rocking, soulful, bluesy, electronica, it’s all there, and another wise signing for Bad Elephant Records Supremo & Godfather David Elliott who has built up a label of delights. Along with We are Kin and The Gift, they have many other treasures worthy of your investigation. But the performance? We are Kin performed songs from their two albums to date, their first Pandora and their most recent …and I know…, starting with easy ballad like material they slowly open up, Emma Brewin-Caddy sings beautifully, obviously a trained voice, it is controlled without feeling pressed – delightful. Bass from Lee Braddock, drums by Gary Boast, and keyboards and guitar from Daniel Zambas give Emma the musical accompaniment that is both emotional and strong; this a great little band that if they, as Daniel suggest’s, get a lead guitarist to relieve him of that duty, will only get better. I really enjoyed their music and the contrast with TMT. Niggles? None really, but I would suggest that they open with something rockier, just to wake the audience up, but a great set. Until next time, I shall mug up on the songs by then.
The Gift open in what now seems to be a band tradition with words spoken with heart and soul by Mike Morton’s late father before they wake up the audience with the opener from their first album, Awake & Dreaming. Okay, the audience are woken, but The Gift’s brand of prog ensures that they keep dreaming. This is a happy band, everything about that tells in their performance (not to say that TMT and WAK were grumpy), mixing material from all three albums (album three due in the autumn; title? Oh wait for the surprise, not telling. Well, forgotten actually) they attempt to raise the ceiling of The Lexington; it has a low ceiling which to my ears compresses the sound a bit. They pretty much manage it too with the suite from Awake & Dreaming, The Willows (rings bells with me this one) from Land of Shadows (album 2) and At Sea from the forthcoming 6 track epic. Mike is a natural frontman, engaging the audience, master of ceremonies, and tambourine player; but the strength of The Gift comes from the ensemble; Stef Dickers, Bass; Neil Hayman (Konkordat), drums (with his new bass drum skin); twin leads David Lloyd and Leroy James; keyboardist Gabriele Baldocci (so good we keep him in the dark, but he still manages to shine). From beginning to end they rock, sartorially there is something going on, fortunately each item is worn by individual band members – the combination of cap, sparkly top, shoes, satin shirt and sleeveless vest in a single being is just too scary to contemplate! I look forward to the next bad taste fashion show – kidding guys! A great set, I like At Sea, and it will grow on me more as I get to digest it in the autumn, there is nothing ‘fast food’ about The Gift. No encore tonight, but I’m hungry and a pub with no real ale and a closed kitchen is not quite the place to be (The Lexington, please note).
This was a great gig, reasonably well attended, but it could have been so much better, an attempt to get publicity from a major rock playing radio station resulted in nothing; Prog magazine, bless ‘em, gave some, and ourselves at TPA. But to give these bands the audiences they deserve, more support from larger media is required. All profits from this evening went to The Macmillan Trust Charity (oh, that was why David Elliott was sobbing into his beer). Progressive music is alive and kicking in its many forms – let’s promote it.
Finally, thanks to all the artists and thanks also to Graham Harris, manager, calming influence and general dogsbody of The Gift, and Vince from The Lexington who worked hard to balance the sound.
Photos by Leo Trimming, Tony Colvill and Colin Gibbs
The Gift and We Are Kin are available from Bad Elephant Music
Tiger Moth Tales from White Knight Records
The Gift – Website | Facebook
We Are Kin – Website | Facebook
Tiger Moth Tales – Website | Facebook