Fusion 2019 TPA Day Two

Fusion Festival 2019 – Day Two

The Civic, Stourport on Severn
Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th March 2019


Tony: Have I slept? Still buzzing from Friday, breakfast was sought, found, and consumed, thanks to the guidance of Neil from The Raven gift shop on the corner, where a natty hat was indeed purchased. Lots of good things here, Neil is also a musician, and nice to chat with. So far, the natives have been friendly. The crowds gathered, slowly at first but growing throughout the day. First act and ventures into the unknown again…

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate

Tony: The first of our “the band name is long, but shorter than a Rick Wakeman solo”. Probably the quirkiest band of the weekend, fascinating, once they have started it is nigh impossible to drag yourself away. Performing songs with the joy thematically of Roger Waters, and the vocal intonation of Brett Anderson of Suede, to my lugholes, they give us a very good opening set. Lyrically interesting, and when explained, inspiring enough to seek out some new books to read. Some of this might sit quite nicely with the Steampunk crowd. I like this quite a lot, and they fit nicely with my other likes in Gandalf’s Fist and the equally bizarre at times Tom Slatter. Words that make you think.

Leo: Quirky set from an enthusiastic duo, supported by programmed samples. The vocals had a Roger Waters sound, although delivered with far more humour than Mr Waters!

This was clever art rock delivered with charm… and announcing a song with “Here’s a song for everyone who doesn’t fit in” may just sum up most of us Progressive Rock fans!

Coming Back
My Clockwork Heart
I Still Remember You
When I Was A Ship
Last Man On The Moon
Stand Up
Broken But Still Standing ‘til I Fall
Malcolm Galloway – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard
Mark Gatland – Bass, Keyboard, Backing Vocal

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Tony: I’ve been waiting and wanting to see Encircled since the first drum free album. This was their first proper gig (excluding the album launch), but that was hard to believe – slick, professional, incredible, and I was thrilled to finally hear this band that I have followed and praised since that first punt on an album with an intriguing name, The Gun has Replaced the Handshake. They and the following act really peaked interest in the audience, I feel a quiet pride at their well-deserved success, having reviewed their three albums to date.

I felt so familiar with their set, prog that delivers in both the long and short form, involved, evolved and moving forward. Progressive. Fortunately, they couldn’t hear me singing along.

Conor Chambers is the latest recruit, a session drummer, I do hope they persuade him to become a permanent member and add to the talent that all this band are. So, off with you Mark to the Bude bolt hole for more lyrics from Scott’s bead of a notion. Also, I am glad to hear that things for your fourth album are in progress.

The crowd loved them too.

Leo: Excellent set of their unique blend of indie rock with progressive elements from this band from the Potteries in one of their first ever full band performances. There was a particularly impressive performance from Mark Burrows on guitar and occasional keyboards, with vocals akin to Ian McNabb of The Icicle Works… that is a good thing! His visuals of swiping his phone and chanting “like… like… like…” on The Obsession was striking in its imagery and simplicity. Encircled avoided many of the usual Prog tropes and excesses, delivering an original set of well crafted rock songs which went down very well. Definitely a band that should play more gigs if they are this assured for one of their first.

The Obsession
Past Times
Chasing The Ghost
Log Out: The Universal Mirth
Alphabetically Possibly
Mark “Busby” Burrows – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Scott Evans – Bass, Bass Pedals, Keyboards
Gareth Evans – Lead Guitar
Conor Chambers – Drums

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I Am The Manic Whale

Tony: Insanely, Encircled were followed by I Am The Manic Whale, another must see band, although I have seen them previously. Another set, another brilliant performance, and another of those standing ovations. I personally put Manic Whale and Encircled in the same area, intelligent music and lyrically memorable and involving. Both enthralled me and a sheet of paper I would not slide between.

Opening with the first track I heard them play, The Man With Many Faces, they immediately brought the audience to them. So much of the weekend’s music had a broad appeal, and for those not, it’s always good to hear something new. Manic Whale are special, long songs seem too short, short songs not long enough, on stage for about an hour, the time was over far too soon.

Leo: Outstanding and very popular set of story-filled, quirky and melodic Progressive Rock from Michael Whiteman and bandmates. The fascinating Clock of the Long Now drew in the unfamiliar with its skilful technical storytelling and compelling music. A promising new song from the next album will doubtlessly delight many of the more ‘Anorak oriented’ Prog fans as it’s about trains!

The band deservedly earned a spontaneous standing ovation for the brilliantly peculiar and jazz inflected Strandbeest. This is a skilled and growingly confident band who improve more and more as a live act and won over quite a few new fans.

The Man With Many Faces
The Milgram Experiment
Valenta Scream
Clock Of The Long Now
Open Your Eyes
One (Hopeful Song)
Ben J. Hartley – Drums, Vocals
Michael Whiteman – Bass Guitar, Easy Keyboard, Vocals
John Murphy – Keyboards, Vocals
David Addis – Guitars, Vocals
Ella Lloyd – Flute

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Final Coil

Tony: Then came the call of food, the curry concession looked good, but I went to the pub as I like to digest as well as digress. Consequence, I missed both Final Coil and Dec Burke, so, over to Leo! Both had good sets, so I’m told.

Final Coil at Fusion 2019

Leo: (TPA’s 2 correspondents somehow managed to both miss the majority of Final Coil – Sorry! However, a friend Rosamund Tomlins has helpfully contributed her view of this young band which has been edited – used with her permission.)

Final Coil are a young band in the stoner doom metal vibe, which added variation to the bill and won over some new fans. They had a variety of sounds, even using a violin bow on guitar and refreshingly they did not take themselves too seriously on stage. In fact the lead singer/guitarist even got a little too excited towards the end and flailing about, tripped over backwards, landed behind the front left speaker. He remained there perhaps trying to pretend it was deliberate, with only the repeated chord and elaborate hand gesture performing it to reassure those of us in the audience concerned for his welfare that he wasn’t concussed! Such commitment to the cause and the principle of the ‘show must go on’ was admirable in an entertaining set.

Phil Stiles: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Richard Awdry: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jola Stiles: Bass Guitar

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Dec Burke

Leo: Powerful set of excellent high energy rock with a Progressive Edge. Dec (ex-Frost* singer/ guitarist) focused on material from his own outstanding solo career, with Sean Spears giving very solid backing on bass and a remarkable drumming show by very late recruit Scott Higham. Dec excelled on electric guitar and also showed his talent as a vocalist. This was a quality set to maintain the high standards of the whole weekend.

Dec Burke – Guitar, Vocals
Sean Spears – Bass
Scott Higham – Drums

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The Book Of Genesis

Tony: Refreshed from a good meal and a fine local ale, I returned for The Book of Genesis. Recently reviewed I shall pass on regaling too much of their performance, which again was delightful and included a medley of Lamb, and Ripples (could almost have been dinner). Tribute yes, clinically copied, never, as any true tribute act should be. The audience, I believe, were won over, and as usual, I sang along with the odd tear in my eye.

Leo: There was great entertainment with this talented Genesis tribute band, who won over some of the more sceptical in the audience who were not sure about a tribute band playing such a festival. This was a popular trip down memory lane with mainly Gabriel-era songs from Watcher of the Skies through Supper’s Ready, right back to The Knife.

Costumes and headgear were worn, including ‘A Flower!’ The band could certainly pull it off with aplomb but clearly also did not take it too seriously and that spirit infected the crowd who enjoyed the nostalgic and fun spectacle.

Watcher Of The Skies
Firth Of Fifth
After The Ordeal
Moonlit Knight
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
– Fly On A Windshield
– Broadway Melody Of 1974
– Carpet Crawlers
Suppers Ready
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
Musical Box (coda)
The Knife (1978 Lyceum version)
Nigel Betteridge – Vocals
Kirk Watson – 12-string Guitar, Bass & Bass Pedals
Bob Arnold – Guitars
Howard Boder – 12-string Guitar, Keyboards
Russ Wilson – Drums & Percussion

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Tony: “England, oh forever to be in England”, or so the saying goes; a completely one-off performance (for now) of a band for whom it could be said, timing was not the best. Producing Garden Shed around 1976/77, just as punk was causing an uprising, the album was largely ignored. That is a shame, there is much to love, and although I find some is perhaps of its time, I thoroughly enjoyed this band. Consisting of original members, three parts The Gift, and drums care of The Book of Genesis, a performance combining music, verse and a touch of theatre delighted one and all. My words penned in the bar area read thus:

‘1976/77. All change, the palace guard evicted as the young bucks of punk stormed the cathedrals and citadels. Walls were torn down and the progressive likes of England lost in those winds of change. Shame, sacrificial lambs deserved better as much of what comes before us remains fresh, it must be the compost from the Garden Shed (!).’

Our presentation was served with two Mellotrons, a temperamental beast at best, but two? The music complex and yet somehow simpler and purer, less troubled times. Music that could have been lost in the fear and anger of what came after, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. Praise must go to Russ Watson on drums, following on from The Book of Genesis set, he was magnificent. I eyed the merchandise lovingly but concluded with the limited budget left I should spread my expenditure a bit thinner. It will be remembered for many things, a fabulous cape (Rick Wakeman eat your heart out), the glory of double Mellotron with cream, Parafinalea, if this wasn’t a proto-version of Market Square Heroes well… (royalties Marillion??), and finally, a well deserved and earned standing ovation.

Leo: BLIMEY! What did we witness?

Robert Webb’s cult Prog Band England re-formed especially for Fusion, with assistance from three members of The Gift, and put on a dazzling performance full of great musicianship, bizarre costumes, and eccentric humour.

Largely based on their Garden Shed album, the Fusion crowd were bewitched by an outstanding show. Band leader Robert Webb was a master on keyboards (and initially one of the greatest capes known to Progressive Rock!!!), but also showed an emotional and delicate side with autobiographical song Buffoon, alone with an acoustic guitar.

A 9-piece band with four different vocalists, including Mike Morton from The Gift, and Russ from The Book of Genesis on drums, AND with TWO MELLOTRONS England certainly knew how to put on a show. Finale Poisoned Youth (based on the story of Dorian Gray) really rocked, in a quite insane way at times… it’s to be hoped that such an eccentric and sparklingly talented band don’t just call it a day after this apparently one-off re-forming.  Mike Morton is to be commended for being instrumental in getting this band back together as it cast a fascinating light on one of the lesser known corners of Progressive Rock from an earlier age… newer bands could still learn a thing or two from them musically and in performance.

Midnight Madness
Three Piece Suite
Robert Webb (solo spot)
Poisoned Youth
Nanogram (Encore)
Robert Webb – Mellotron, Moog, Piano, Vocals
Frank Holland – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Martin Henderson – Bass, Vocals
Jodie Leigh – Cameo Vocal
Russ Wilson – Drums & Percussion
David Lloyd – Second Guitar
Jordan Brown – Second Bass
Andy Thompson – Second Mellotron
Gabriele Baldocci – Keyboards
Mike Morton – Vocals

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Images courtesy of ProgPics by StanS, Ed Percival & Leo Trimming.

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ProgPics by StanS – Website | Facebook