Pendragon VIP Weekend 2024 Day Two- TPA banner

Pendragon – Everyone’s A VIP Weekend: Day Two

Key Theatre, Peterborough
Sunday 12th May 2024

Pendragon VIP Weekend attendees

As last year, Sunday started with a call from organiser, Rachel Barratt, and the band, for all attendees to meet up, as the Pendragon Choir, outside the theatre at 11.15 am for a group photo. Not quite as easy to get everyone visible without a tiered section to stand on, but most attendees might be able to spot themselves somewhere! No ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ this time, but a chorus of ‘Marina, Aqua Marina‘ would have worked well this time! The band mixed generously with fans, and have some photos taken for posterity.

Pendragon VIP Weekend 2024  Day Two

Some late timing changes meant I caught most, although sadly not all, of Clive Nolan’s keyboards talk, and he was in full flow before making way for a short band Q&A session with Nick, Clive, Jan-Vincent and Peter. I’d have liked to have heard more (the discussion on Kowtow was illuminating), but with so much to pack into the Sunday afternoon, it was time for the music to take centre stage.

(‘The Window of Life’)

Rog Patterson & Greg Smith - Day Two at VIP Weekend 2024The afternoon started with Rog Patterson being reunited with the amiable Greg Smith for some lovely 12-string guitar-driven pastoral prog, in the guise of Twice Bitten – the duo’s 1980s Anthony Phillips-inspired project. Full of wit and humour as well as wonderful instrumental complexity, the audience enjoyed it as much as the band and it just hit the right note in my mind. The highlight for me was Crocus Point and I will certainly be checking out their back catalogue as a result.

Pendragon wasted no time in diving into the classic 1993 album, The Window of Life with the powerful, introductory organ chords from Clive of The Walls of Babylon, to great acclaim. Nick’s haunting electric guitar lines took flight into every corner of the theatre, before Peter’s ‘Watcher of the Skies’-like bass lines and Jan-Vincent’s expressive drums took the song through to its main theme and the memorable chorus of ‘Babylon’s burning in my mind…’ from Nick, Sally and Johanna. What a great way to start the afternoon performance!

Ghosts followed, with some lovely piano and a wistful, melancholic atmosphere throughout, despite the ebb and flow of the instrumentation and the tempo. However, it was but a precursor to possibly the highpoint of the entire weekend, a true breath-taking rendition of Breaking the Spell, with Nick’s classic, extended guitar solo soaring to new heights, even after all these years. The spontaneous standing ovation it produced, will stay long in the memories of those attending that afternoon.

The epic, multi-faceted The Last Man on Earth was as emotionally cathartic as ever, and remains the cornerstone to this classic album – still sounding as vibrant as it did over thirty years ago. Some prog music is really just timeless.

Pendragon VIP Weekend 2024  Day Two

Time for a bit of fun, and Nostradamus (Stargazing), breezed in serenely before that huge guitar riff had everyone clapping and swaying along and joining in the chorus of ‘Stargazing, groundbreaking, dream making, breathtaking’ (which I thankfully negotiated without a slip up!). With the recent appearance of the Northern Lights on the Friday night in the UK, the power and glory of stargazing seemed to take on even more significance. Am I Really Losing You? rounded off this part of the show beautifully, with that plaintive, repeated guitar call resonating through to the end.

One of my personal favourites, the sublime Sister Bluebird, heralded the second half of the set, and this was followed by Nick’s chat about legacy and where people came from. I thought at one point everyone was going to shout out the name of their home town, but the distorted power riffs and Celtic-soaked, metal strains of Skara Brae got the music back on track, and provided a nice contrast to the symphonic prog sweep of what had gone before. Schizo, starting with the sound of that closing door, added a Floydian dreaminess to the impeccable ensemble work of the whole band, with Nick’s guitar chords very Gilmouresque at times.

While Not of This World was featured in full last year in Morecambe, I was very pleased when the classic A Man of Nomadic Traits made an appearance, and its measured start gradually built into its exuberant and extended conclusion and another deserved standing ovation. Just time for the reflective It’s Only Me, from Pure, and a quick curtain call – before returning for a real show-stopper – a stunning version of Masters of Illusion, incorporating Jan-Vincent’s pounding drum solo, before it was time for everyone to bid farewell to each other, and to these musical troubadours as they embarked on their European tour.

Pendragon VIP Weekend 2024  Day Two

Thanks go, of course, to Rachel Barratt and the team (including the merch desk), Bob Cheatham and the Key Theatre staff, the sound and light crew, all the musicians and the wonderfully knowledgeable and friendly Pendragon ‘Mob’ attendees for making it another weekend to remember……and the Sun of course, for thankfully making a rare appearance here in the UK this spring! Here’s to another ‘Everyone’s A VIP Weekend’ next year, hopefully!

The Window of Life

The Walls of Babylon
Breaking the Spell
The Last Man on Earth
Nostradamus (Stargazing)
Am I Really Losing You?

Sister Bluebird [from ‘Fallen Dreams and Angels’]
Skara Brae [from ‘Passion’]
Schizo [from ‘The Masquerade Overture’]
A Man of Nomadic Traits [from ‘Not of This World’]
It’s Only Me [from ‘Pure’]
~ Encore
Masters of Illusion [from ‘The Masquerade Overture’]

Pendragon VIP Weekend 2024 - Final Bow

[Live photos by David Edwards]

Pendragon's Nick Barratt with TPA's David Edwards MUSICIANS
Nick Barratt – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin
Clive Nolan – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Peter Gee – Bass, Keyboards
Jan-Vincent Velazco – Drums
~ With:
Rog Patterson – 12-String Guitar
Johanna Stroud – Violin, Backing Vocals
Sally Minnear – Backing Vocals

…and thanks to Greg Smith (of Twice Bitten)

Pendragon – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | X