After driving for 2 hours, we finally hit Whitchurch again for the annual festival. After meeting festival organiser Dave Martin we found we were the first ones there, so a quick tent put up job was required. We erected the `dome` and so it was time to hit the town for a quick barley pop and a nosebag. In town, we bumped into French proggers …clat who came over to see Landmarq, and they seemed amazed when we said `Are you …clat?`. Nice to meet them! Thanks for the Ricard boys! Merci!
We got back to the campsite, and we had a quick chat to the other festival goers and bands that had arrived. There are always plenty of prog celebs that turn up, complete bands and parts of bands too, thatís what makes it a great weekend.
Kicking off the festival, were Primitive Instinct who played a very good set with songs lifted from the excellent last album `Belief`. Combined with a couple of their old classics from a little way back, it was a nice taster for the evening and the weekend ahead. Next up, Landmarq, and they played a more up to date set of new material, and Tracy sang her heart out. Nice!
Well, what can you say about the headliners on Friday night, The Cardiacs. A huge following gathered at the front, and they jumped around to every note. For those of you that do not know this lot, you will be amazed of their unique sound. Loads of up tempo time changes, and strange vocals to say the least. What a band, and they even sat down for a few minutes too! Great gig!
That was the end of Friday, and so we staggered into the tent.
Saturday morning came around, so a shower first thing was on the agenda. After the lard, the people steadily arrived to see the afternoonís offerings. Keith Bell, the warm up man of prog had a quick sing and a strum and it was time for The Haze and World Turtle combinations to do their stuff. They went down very well with the strong crowd, but it was Grey Lady Down who stole the afternoon honours! A very powerful set was the order of the day, and it was nice to hear some songs from the new album `Star Crossed`. It poured with rain outside, so GLD made everyone forget the downpour, with classics like `The Flyer` and `12:02`. Tomas Bodin of the Flower Kings came over for a look and chatted to some of us outside in the foyer, no nerves at all!
After a few burgers, the time came along to move into the main hall again. Sphere was the opener for that evening, and they were superb! From the Crimson type `Paralysis`, we knew we were in for a great 30 or 40 minutes. After the closing number `Lights Going Down`, the crowd went bonkers mate! They sold a few of their CD single (which is a essential purchase!) (See Reviews Index for details). This lot will be the English Anekdoten before very long!
Next up, your friend and mine >>> Martin Orford! With a Jadis come IQ come Dirtbox line up, this was one for the fans! With songs from Martinís excellent first solo outing, and an old IQ classic from the `Sitting` album, `War Heroes`, it was a evening to remember. With Martin doing a Supertramp style of lead vocals and playing keys, it was a great performance. Hope we see many more like this again!
Now then, The Flower Kings jetted in around early afternoon, and absorbed the atmosphere straight away. They sound-checked, then got ready to play.
After a short pause due to a small problem at the start, they opened with `There Is More To This World`, which in my opinion took the roof off!! Yes folks, the Swedes (and Hungarian, sorry Zoltan! ) had hit the stage! Next up, a short (?) version of the opening track from `Flower Power`, `Garden of Dreams`. Only 40 minutes this time, but never the less, the crowd were stunned. Next up, `I Am The Sun` parts 1 & 2 squashed into around 12 minutes. New drummer, Zoltan soon got into the swing of things, and he showed us what he can do in the encore after the set closer `Stardust We Are` pt3. Hasse Froberg was in great voice by the way on that number. `Rumblefish Twist` was next, and the man in the hat Jonas Reingold on bass showed us what he could do! He must be one of the best players around at the moment, and his fingers were on fire!! So, after a snippet of `Sounds Of Violence`, the FK`s left the stage. Those that stayed behind got a treat, because all the members came out for a chat. They are a very pleasant band to talk to, and they all said they enjoyed the show. Roine Stolt, God to many of us, spoke to me about music in general on Transatlantic. ďI feel now the jigsaw in the FK`s is now complete, and they can get massive salesĒ, which is what we want, isnít it, isnít it?
After getting off cloud nine, Sunday`s events took place. In the afternoon among others, we had Treebeard with a French onion seller, and all girl group Elan. UK Blues Project played mainly covers, so it was a nice tonic to get everyone going!
Main hall openers Gravity local band with a Small Faces feel, rocked us. Nice songs, great potential, they are young enough, hope they get a deal.
Jump arrived on stage next, John Dexter Jones for my money was the front man of the festival, with his cheeky Charlie chappie chat and great vocals, great entertainers good songs.
Pink Floyd covers band Perfect Alibi were the festival closers, kicking off with `Not Now John`. Iím not a lover of covers bands, but the last time I saw Floyd was back in 94 at Earls Court, this lot sound very much like them, so it was a nice ending. Highlights for me were `Comfortably Numb` excerpts from `Dark Side Of The Moon` and `One Of These Days`. Pity they didn`t play `Echoes`, that would have made it a complete weekend for me!
So, that was it, £32 of great value, bands, free camping, and great German beer, what could be better? Highlights for me personally were Sphere, Martinís band and of course, The Flower Kings. What will we have next year? Spockís Beard? Anekdoten? Cliffhanger? IQ? Donít care; Iím there anyway! Top marks go to Pete and Dave Martin and their crew for a great event as usual, and the people of Whitchurch especially the girl in the (so near so..) Spar supermarket on Sunday morning who said I looked like I needed perking up a bit. She recommended 3 cans of Red Bull. It worked! Thanks love!
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