HRH Prog X @
O2 Academy, Sheffield, 4th September, 2021 - Day 1
Well it's been a while since we had the last HRH Prog for obvious reasons but it's back again in full swing and so good to see all the fans in the venue enjoying some fabulous acts over the weekend as well as a few drinks and the odd hotdog.
The opening band of the festival are three piece Axiom from Birmingham who intrigue and mesmerise us with the style of complex mathematical prog rock. It utterly amazes me personally how they remember how these instrumental tunes go and what follows what in each as some goes on with loads of notes and intricate tempos and acrobatic musical arrangements.
Next up are Deviant Amps! Avant-guard with an almost Hawkwind sort of feel but also with vocally 90's Mancunian kinda vibe to them, whose frontman emulates as you can see, the look of Dave Brock & John Lennon all in one. It was quirky and off-kilter at times but that's how prog sometimes can be - built around repetitive riffs on the guitar with dark lyrics and unsettling vocals.
Bram Stoker are one of those early 70's bands that seem to have vanished in midst of time but their name funnily enough lived on regardless due to a rather famous horror novel. Anyways, they crawled out the crypt to play Sheffield but for me did not exactly do a lot since they did not make much effort at all to dress well for the occasion plus were late starting due to keyboard issues. The odd singing lesson would not have gone astray either especially regarding the female vocals which were not exactly ear pleasing in the keeping in tune dept.
Now when The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown take to the stage you have certainly raised the performance bar a few notches to put it mildly. The younger guys in his band have really added a lot of life to the show of the cult hero and absolute living legend of the last few decades. It's a dark up there so the ISO's are put on auto or turned up high but the lack of light on the band really adds to the classic Vaudevillian charm of the never faulting, bang on the vocal presence notes of the flamboyant make-up bearded star.
We even get 'Fire' on in the set too which I actually expected to hear towards the end. Just goes to show you that you can tell tell what will happen next with someone on the calibre of Arthur Brown. His other material is totally on par too and boy can that guy move who is believe it or not the best part of 80!
Like Mr. B, Atomic Rooster were no strangers to the stage, in fact some of the original members were actually members of 'The Crazy World...' believe it or not so how coincidental and at the same time ironic that they are playing next.
A band I first discovered in the early 90's whilst watching repeats of the 'Beat Club' TV Show on one of those German Channels you could pick up back in the day via a good ole stick it to ya house satellite dish - boy I still miss that. Anyways it turns out that I had seen one of the members back in 1989 taking care of the lead guitar for Pete Townshend in on The Who's 'The Kids Are Alright' Reunion Tour - so for me personally it was a real joy to witness 'Steve 'Bolts' Bolton again, this time on his Gibson SG who in Atomic Rooster alongside Pete French in late 1971 and through most of 1972 as well - which I guess gave them the thumbs up of using the name by Vincent Crane's Widow.
They delivered one hell of a rock n blues based set that had some proggy quasi-mystical element of bands lime Uriah Heep and Deep Purple with elements of Whitesnake finesse too with fantastic cuts such as 'Sleeping For Years' 'Black Snake'; 'Death Walks Behind You' and 'Head In The Sky'.
Next up are a band with a difference who are Prog Metal and more in your face in the loads of notes dept and serious songs with a ton of harmonies thrown in too. I have known about them for a while - a band I am sure we reviewed CD-wise in the early days of Metalliville Zine. They have strong songs which are rather technical at times which the audience both seem to love and lap up studiously. A outfit that hails from Surrey and been around since 1988.
Headliners, The Enid are utterly legendary with their own interpretation of prog, "Whatever Prog may be?" as Robert Godfrey himself exclaimed to us. Sound-wise they are organ-keyboard based and extremely classical to say the least with a lot of percussion coming from two young members of the band such as various drums and xylophones etc and a cream of the crop guitarist which puts the icing firmly on the cake.
A quartet that you have to witness to totally get since there's so much grandiose and exquisite high-end musical brilliance going down. We get an array of Enid excellence from across the decades and even the good ole 'Land Of Hope & Glory' by Edward Elgar thrown in towards the end. I liked the fact that Robert said the kids should be standing up to schools and governments and telling them, "Don't Tell Us What To Think". The man makes total sense and is a sheer genius in many aspects.