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ProgSfest Festival, The Olympiad Leisure Centre, Chippenham, 30th/31st October 2004

In a year when sadly there was no Whitchurch, the ProgSfest Festival in many ways made up for the great loss. As many of us know, it is hard for many bands in the 'prog' vein to get gigs, but at least certain people are making a good effort to get the punters through the doors and watching great bands perform.

Set in a leisure centre in the heart of Wiltshire, ProgSfest in my opinion was a great event, and with a bit more support from the absent punters, would have put the final coat of gloss on the whole event. We witnessed eight bands performing to their limits, and generally having a great time.


Festival openers Tantalus took to the stage, and performed for nearly an hour. Most of the set was from the album Lumen Et Caligo, but today two tracks were from the forthcoming Lumen Et Caligo Pt2 which will soon be released on November 6th. The dual keyboard sounds of Max and Gerlinde Hunt, were reminiscent of mid-period Yes, and in places very classical in style too. Bob Leek
controlled the vocal side of things and acoustic guitars, very Jon Anderson in appearance in my opinion, and a creditable performance as well. Their first song While There's Still Time changed tempo many times, and featured some nice keyboard touches from Max, but the two instrumental tracks Harp Dance and Route 36 Part 2 were well received by the steadily growing crowd. Bassist Jason Tilbrook was solid in performance and played a Mandolin which was a welcomed sight. Tantalus were a great opening to the festival, Just A Test and The Illest Man In The World were the two new songs from the new album, and on those songs, it could be a worthwhile addition to your collection.

The Tangent

Making their debut, The Tangent were next. Family favourites Flower Kings members of Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Csorsz were joined by Sam Baine and 'conductor' Andy Tillison. Sadly no flute or sax player, no Guy Manning too, but the whole set was performed in a kind of a premiere rehearsal feel. These great musicians were having a great time on stage, and with the crowd too. At one point, Andy asked for the safe return of the lyrics which were mislaid somewhere, but the band did an excellent job with Andy taking over most of the vocal parts. Songs like The Winning Game, and The World We Drive Through were performed very well, but for me the musicianship stood out on The Canterbury Sequence with Jonas touching every fret on his bass, and Zoltan doing his usual classic drum styles. The band encored with The Nice classic America, and of course the crowd was applauding when the band left the stage. Well, the first gig on the tour was an eventful one, most of the crowd were displaying Flower Kings t-shirts which is what you expect, and with some Euro dates following this debut, you will be in for a great show.

The Pineapple Thief

Performing some new songs from their new album 12 Stories Down, The Pineapple Thief were the first band on after the break. Singer guitarist Bruce Soord, it has to be said, is a talented songwriter, and the new album coming soon to reviews on this site, is a fine example of modern music today. From last year's album Variations Of A Dream, Part Zero, Vapour Trails, Keep Dreaming and final song We Subside made this an enjoyable set. Highlight for me was Kid Chameleon from the album 137, but the new material entered the set and soon got everyone applauding after each number. Start Your Descent and The World I Always Dreamed Of could be future live favourites too. Again this was a great performance by Pineapple Thief, and one of many more to come.


Saturday's headline act needs no real introduction really, you could write what you don't know about IQ on a pin-head! But as a crowd puller and part of the Dark Matter tour, IQ again performed a classic gig. From the floor this was a great show with the screens behind the band flashing the images of many songs, and again Dark Matter was played in it's entirety. The older favourites such as It All Stops Here, Outer Limits, Common Ground and The Wake were all well received along with The Seventh House. It was nice to see some 'new faces' in the crowd too, but the majority were IQ followers old and new, and they were entertained to full enjoyment. And that was the end of the first day.

The Progs

First band of the second day was The Progs. This was the organiser Shaun Hunt's prog sing-a-long band, and yes, you've guessed it, a covers band. The intro music of Mars The Bringer Of War filled the hall before the quintet took to the stage. ELP's Karn Evil 9 part 2 was the opening number, and it was all the classic early prog material which we all love was played. Two Genesis numbers Firth Of Fifth and Cinema Show, along with two Yes favourites Roundabout and Starship Trouper which ended the set, throw in a classic Floyd number Comfortably Numb and there you have a great collection of songs. Highlight for me was the King Crimson favourite In The Court Of The Crimson King, with keyboard player Doug Melbourne hitting the spot with that classic Mellotron sound. In my opinion, a great way to sit down and enjoy a drink or two, and worth missing the Sunday Roast for.


Now Galahad have not done any gigs for nearly a year, so as they have had line-up changes, and been locked away writing new material for the next album, so this was a nice setting to release the new stuff to the ears of the guinea pig audience. Starting with the last album's first parts 1-4 of Year Zero, the new material was soon upon us. Termination was next and a lot more heavier in their approach of previous albums. This new style seems to work very well in my opinion, and I'm looking forward to the new album when it is released. New bass player Mike Kneller was having a great time screaming into the mic, and it must be said he looked a bit on the Goth side with long coat and top hat! Dean Baker on the keys played a nice selection of sounds, but the piano which is very Muse like was heard too. Another newie followed, Empires Never Last, this time Roy Keyworth and drummer Spencer Luckman both shone on this track. Going backwards, Sleepers was next, and Mike and Dean seemed to fit in well like both members had been around in Galahad for a long time. Dare I say it, but the 'Uncle Festa' of prog Stu Nicholson was strong in the vocal and stage presence, with the Gabriel type comments during the new songs. I Could Be God was next, Mike taking to the mic again with some nice deep voice arrangements, and the band ended the set with Year Zero 15. I feel these are exciting times ahead for the band, the new album will be worth looking into when it arrives.


Enter after the break, Magenta. Now, everyone filtered into the hall expecting to hear the soundcheck, but in true rock 'n' roll festival style, the band went straight into the first number. It had to be said after the first number Gluttony, Magenta had won over some new friends and fans. This was pure class and energy from the whole band. Christina as ever looked a picture dressed in a spiders webbed top, and she just sang note perfect and glided through the whole set. Guitarist Chris Fry played immaculate throughout, and even jumped off stage to sit down with some punters! The energy continued with the last single Broken, and again the crowd just never ended with the applause. King Of The Sky followed which is forth coming on a single release, but highlight for me was The White Witch. This blew the roof off the building, again all members playing on full throttle. The rhythm section of bassist Matthew Cohen and drummer Allan Mason-Jones were as solid as stone, keys man Rob Reed played top notch again, and partially hidden Martin Rosser put in a great performance too. A new song from the next album was played next, yet untitled but Christina said it's her song, as in Tina's Song. So we will wait and see if it stays the same! Ending with Children Of The Sun, the shout for an encore was ear splitting. I feel everyone in the hall had seen a great performance, even so the band returned for an encore. Their next gig is at Progeny, this again will be a big event for them. A very good performance ended with many people buying all the current catalogue of CDs, and shaking the hands of the band members. Yes, we all witnessed a great performance!

Ray Wilson

Ending the festival, was former Genesis and Stiltskin frontman Ray Wilson. Ray sang a collection of songs from his solo work, plus Genesis favourites such as Carpet Crawl and Ripples, and the Phil Collins smash In The Air Tonight which was a great version. Inside, of course, was performed and is a classic 90's rock song, and no prizes for guesses which television commercial it is from by the way! It was a nice ending to the weekend with Ray singing well.

Well, that was ProgSfest at Chippenham 2004, and all of us will look forward to next year.  The event promises to be on the prog calendar every year, so let's hope it is well supported and attended. A big thank you must go out to Shaun Hunt who put the whole thing together, and worked tireless throughout the festival, it was a good one! A big pat on the back must go out to all the bands. Everyone was a winner! And of course, room number 6 is reserved for me in the New Road Guest House next year! (See below for gallery of photos.)

Danny Mayo





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