HRH Prog X @

O2 Academy, Sheffield, 5th September, 2021 - Day 2

Well the 1st day was utterly exceptional and as was the case the second, we were treated to a variety of Prog styles with bands both old and new and in-between from around 1.30 to 12 midnight. 6 acts that fit into the progressive genre one way or another, allowing the billing to have something for everyone to enjoy at various points of the afternoon and night.

The opening act today were Semper Vera who were rather mathematical from Oxford, a trio consisting of

Ben O’Connor (Guitar/Vocals), Joe Bodsworth (Bass Guitar) & Max Collings (Drums). A rocky melodic bunch with deep meaningful lyrics with a disturbing, unnerving undercurrent Songs like 'Can't Spin Forever' & 'Overture' that has an Indie Counting Crows meets Psychedelia and The Byrds to it.   

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Tiger Moth Tails is the incredible project from Pete Jones, a multi-talented musician and vocalist with the sweetest angelic voice plus the most brilliant sense of humour too - nothing phases him. He comes from Nottinghamshire and is an extraordinary talent who lost his sight at the early age of just fifteen months.

 

The prog style is extremely beautiful and very much keyboard lead and exudes Fairy Tale like musical & lyrical ambience, not to mention a good sparkling of Vaudevillian textures and flavours such as 'Blackbird' and the exuberant energetic 'Tigers In The Butter' with its eastern feel.

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Frank Carducci And The Fantastic Squad from France comprising of Frank Carduuci (Vocals/Bass/Guitar), Mary Reynaud (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Theramin/Percussion), Léa Fernandez (Drums), Barth Sky (Guitar/Backing Vocals) & Cédric Selzer (Keyboards/Backing Vocals) are one of the most theatrical set of Rockers I have seen in a good while.

 

They are full on Heavy Rock meets Prog Rock and remind me of Alice Cooper in a crazy way with Mary putting me in mind of main female dancer/actress in Mr. Furnier's band. She takes on centre lead role and visual position in some of the songs, whilst Frank and the rest of the band take us on a warm, magical journey in their own bombastic, musically bright, illuminating way.

 

I am actually utterly amazed that I have not encountered them before because they really should be big and at arena level!  A nice touch in the closing number too that is completely acapella, uplifting and positively lovely.

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All the way from Lithuania are The Skys, They are said to be one of the leading rock band in the country and the most recognized too outside of it. Made up of Jonas Čiurlionis (Vocals/Lead Guitar), Božena Buinicka (Keyboards/Vocals), Justinas Tamaševičius (Bass) & Ilja Molodcov (Drums). 

There's a variety of prog styles in their serious vibes with some knock-out keyboard sounds to be had, which add the fat to their groove with fusionistic riffs and interesting arrangements to take in with both male and female vocals such as in the opening 'Automatic Minds'. A nice bit of faster cruising and weirdness  in 'Colours of the Desert' and 'Templar's Last Stand', finishing on the beautifully, rich 'Dead End' that totally changes in tempo and mood all of a sudden.  

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Colosseum are one of those legendary bands who got together in late 60's whose line-up consists of 

Dave 'Clem' Clempson (Guitar), Chris Farlowe (Vocals), Mark Clarke (Bass/Vocals), Kim Nishikawara (Saxophone/Clarinet), Malcolm Mortimore (Drums) & Nick Steed (Organ).

Mixing in a set that has equal flowings of Jazz, Rock and Blues in a solid, old school pedigree way, they absolutely take the roof off in here with soloing and riff trading that many can only dream of achieving. It's was only five songs long but they were epic numbers in duration, encompassing mind-blowing musical joy and endless 'pinch me' moments.

 

It started with 'Valentyne Suite' - one hell of an instrumental cut and later the mesmerising 'Theme For An Imaginery Western' by the late, great, Jack Bruce with the soulful, big-voiced, Chris Farlowe taking us by storm with the interstellar notes he hits. Hey, it wasn't even a monday but we get a T-Bone Walker song about that too . The boys ended on a 16+ minute 'Lost Angeles' where they threw in some 'Sunshine of Your Love' jamming when you thought it could not get any better! It just did!

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Now I remember mates back in the school days of mine and later on talking about this band called Ozric Tentacles - I always loved the band name but never knew much about them, other than that they seemed to be friends of Hawkwind.

 

Anyways, back to the present, I eventually get to witness what this was all about - billed as Ozric Tentacles Electric & Friends, that features main man, Ed Wynne alongside some of his buddies over the years who smoke out some dancey, trancey, electronic, instrumental, psychedelic sounds for a good while.... with folk in here loving it as well as being mystified and puzzled by some of it too.....

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Mostly Autumn, the headliners for tonight comprise of Olivia Sparnenn (Lead Vocals/Percussion), Bryn Josh (Vocals/Guitars), Angela Gordon (Flutes/Keyboards/Recorders/Whistles/Percussion/Backing Vocals), Andy Smith (Bass), Chris Johnson (Rhythm & Acoustic Guitars/Keyboards/Vocals) & Henry Rogers (Drums). 

They spring to the stage and sparkle out amples of Hard Rock Prog that has both a strong mystical and magical essence to it with powerful prominent musicianship and gorgeous vocals of essential calibre quality. Cuts like the ballad 'Evergreen'; the haunting and atmospheric 'Changing Lives'; the energetic 'Mother Nature' and the anthemic Celtic like closer 'Forever & Beyond'.  What an utterly excellent and perfect way of rounding up a fantastic weekend of Prog here in Steel City!  

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Words and Pictures By Glenn Milligan