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Progeny, Festival Weekend, London Astoria 15th and 16th November 2003


Well, here we had a treat of a weekend with a fantastic line up of performers! First time in years that saw IQ and Pallas perform on the same night!

Kicking things off were Welsh progsters Magenta. We had just got through the door and they were straight on.  Front lady Christina looked the part in a long black dress, and the band was enjoying themselves with the fine set.  First up from Revolutions was Children Of The Sun and then a new one from the next album Seven.  In my opinion, Magenta was a great opening act, and they were going down well with the increasing crowd.  They have a style of classic British prog and on this performance should go a long way. An early festival favourite, not bad for the opening act!

Next, Canterbury‘s finest, Richard Sinclair with Theo Travis, delighted us with fine tunes, including Golf Girl, a classic gem from the Caravan album, In The Land Of Grey And Pink.   Richard has a fine voice, and many of the crowd were singing along with him.  A nice set.

Next on the stage was In-Cahoots led by legend Phil Miller who was part of Matching Mole, and Hatfield Of The North with Richard Sinclair among others. The very jazzy set was well performed, and the crowd enjoyed what they heard.  Playing just four songs, very varied with lots of solo’s, they included numbers from the new album All That which were Inca, and Out There, Delta Borderline from Out Of The Blue, and set-closer Your Root 2.  It was great to hear this kind of sound, which then made way to Scottish proggers Pallas.

Pallas graced the Astoria stage playing just 40 minutes. Stand-in keys man Mike Stobbie was called in at the last minute, because Ronnie Brown wasn’t present. Alan Reed with guitar in hand blasted through the short set which included such 80’s classics Crown Of Thorns and Sanctuary. This was a great set by the Scottish lads, should have been longer, but short but sweet as they say!

Kevin Ayers took over from the Carl Palmer Band who couldn’t perform on this event, which was a shame in many people’s minds, but for reasons we know about and we all wish Shaun Baxter (CPB guitarist) a speedy recovery. Back to Kevin Ayres, who played a varied set of blues type rock.  Kevin informed the HHH there would be a new album out soon, and it should be good from what we heard from his band on the night.

Well, no festival should be without a big crowd puller, and Saturday’s headliners IQ underline that fact. Opening with the classic from Ever, The Darkest Hour, IQ just cruised through the set. Their many fans were there early to get the best view, and we were treated to the now famous backdrop with the three screens showing images. Pete Nicholls just took everything in his stride as usual, and the band just hit us all with The Seventh House, Subterranea, which featured the female violinist from the Japanese IQ tribute band IQ-J and set closer, The Enemy Smacks, complete with Pete in mask and cloak.  Encore was The Wake and sadly it was 10pm, time to go in search of beer! That was Saturday!


Onto Sunday, doors opened at 3:30, and many people who were there Saturday thought opening act Kevin Ayers would be straight on. This wasn’t the case as he took to the stage a good 40 minutes later.  Again Kevin played more or less the same set as Saturday, but some new faces saw him.

Next up, Arena unplugged featuring Clive Nolan, John Mitchell and singer, taller than most, Rob Sowden, performed their songs in a way most people had not heard before. Clive Nolan pointed out it was about time we British had a British festival with all British bands in London, this got a big cheer! Arena played their material in a great style, and most of crowd were singing along. A fine set unplugged in many ways!

Now, next was from York, Mostly Autumn. Opening with Never The Rainbow, front lady Heather Findlay looked like a princess in her white and pink outfit, with tambourine to match. Her voice shone through the music, and combined well with Bryan Josh’s guitar. MA are big in stature now, and this showed in their performance, such gems as Evergreen and Heroes Never Die present that statement, and judging by the number of fans sporting t-shirts bearing the band’s name, they can only get bigger.  A classic set, and in my opinion, a highlight from Sunday.

The Enid entered the stage next, and RJG announced it was a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to play at the festival. The Enid played a varied set, and a couple of re-works of older numbers. In The Region Of The Summer Stars got a big cheer, and there were many at the front for this performance. The Enid left the stage with a big cheer from the punters, and they hope to have a new album ready for next year.

Well, Sunday’s headline act needs no real introduction, Pendragon. After the light show introduction with classic intro music, the band took to the stage. With the set focused on the last four albums, they put in a creditable performance.  The epic Voyager was the highlight of their set in my opinion.

Well that was it. Two days of great sounds.  Magenta and Mostly Autumn were the highlights for me, IQ were as usual on great form; Pallas too with their 40 minutes got the crowd going.  Hats off to the Astoria staff who made it all possible, and lets all look forward to the next one!

Sadly it was all over, time to go home and a big hope it happens next year. The rumours are around as you read this, that Jadis, Arena and Landmarq are the bands penned to play at the event next year so far.  Lets all hope it comes off!

Danny Mayo


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