The Progster

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Summers End Rock Festival Announced

The second Summers End festival has been annoucend today. Last year it was in Gloucester, where Magenta headlined a one day event which also featured Also Eden, Tr3nity, Galahad, Steve Thorne and the Pineapple Thief.

This year it moves to The Robin 2 in Bilston, Wolvehampton, and will be a two day even across the weekend of Saturday September 30th and Sunday October 1st. It will feature a total of 12 prog bands:

Saturday Afternoon Session
White Willow (Norway) Headlining
Credo (UK)
Ezra (UK)

Saturday Evening Session
Pendragon (UK) Headlining
Strangefish (UK)

Sunday Afternoon Session
Flamborough Head (Netherlands) Headlining
Pure Reason Revolution (UK)
Darwins Radio (UK)

Sunday Evening Session
The Flower Kings (Sweden) Headlining
Also Eden (UK)
Guy Manning (UK)

Tickets are priced at £40 for the weekend, or £25 per day in advance.
Available on-line through the Robin 2 box office and the Sonicbond website and by post, by phone or in person from the Robin box office. Numbers are limited to 500.

The festival website will be launched around the 3rd of June.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Dream Theater Release Classic DVD/CD

Dream Theater have released a CD and DVD of their live 'classic cover' from their second night at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in October last year. The video clip on the YTSEJAM Site looks tremendous. Only problem now is the 3 weeks wait for the DVD to be dispatched, for whatever reason. I want it NOW!

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's in a name?

OK, after a few months using a pseudonym (if that's how you spell it), I've reverted to my real name. After adding my PBase photo page links and such, and adding the blog to my forums signatures, it was pretty pointless anyway trying to maintain anonymity. So from now on, it is plain old Stuart on the postings. The same person, and the same old nonsense I might add, but just a different poster name.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Russian Decadence

Looking around the web in preparation for our up and coming cruise to the Baltic states, I found this picture. At first glance it looks like any nice Russian glass pillared, chandelier decked palace. That is, until you realise that the blue things at either side of the picture are in fact underground trains! This is the Avtovo Metro station in St. Petersburg. Not the tiniest piece of paper or cigarette butt in sight. They might have a history peppered with scandle, famine, bread lines and the cold war, but boy do they have designer stations or what?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

And the Winner is . . .

Absolutely fabulous, Lordi won EuroVision. And the best of all . . . the UK public vote gave them 12 points, and our votes counted !! Things will never be the same again.

Rock on Lordi !!

New York Suite arrives

The special edition second CD companion to Magenta's Home just dropped thorugh the letter box. As hinted, it is more progressive than most of Home, and stands well as a 40+ minute piece. It follows the main character from Home, and her time in Manhattan, before she heads off again to Chicago and beyond.

On listening to this, the decision to move this material out of the main CD was absolutely the right thing to do. It stands well on it's own, but I don't feel it would have sat well within the rest of home. The style of home flows so well from start to finish without this extra material. The only exception would have been the reprise of This Life, which makes the point of having to move on yet again from New York, but without some subtly different lyrics, it wouldn't have added much to the original work.

How could anyone ever have doubted you Rob :O)

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Sweet Lordi

I still have a passing interest in Eurovision, more from a long lost missconception that I could write something better than the JingleVision music on offer. Now I can finally sit back in the knowledge that someone has taken Eurovision well and truly to the kind of place Jeremy Beadle would if he were to make an episode called You've Been EuroFramed. I'm sure one half of Finland is chuckling as I type, and the other half are looking for their crucifixes, bringing the kids inside and putting garlic on their front doors. Lordi went through in the semi-final last night literally with a Monsters of Rock performance of "Hard Rock Hallelujah", including more makeup than an episode of Dr Who, a 9 foot set of folding winds, and the obligitory fireworks kitted guitars. This is the first time Finland have reached the final.

Well, you can't have enough prosthetics in rock I say. It makes Kiss look like a girl band, and probably has Peter Jackson wishing he was more involved in the music scene. If ever there was a reason to watch EuroVision, this must be it. Anyway, they get my vote, Rock On Lordi!!

See: Lordi Home Page and Finnish Entry Page for more info

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Milliontown gets closer to reality . .

Now here's one album I can't wait to review. Milliontown by Frost is expected to be released in July, and has now even got a real CD number from Inside Out records! With the cream of British prog rock in the band, and some awesome music from what has already been released on preview, this promises to be one of the highlights of 2006. The band were having their piccies taken at an old Butlins camp last week for the sleeve. Very nice it is looking (and sounding) too. (Did I just type like Yoda there?)

1. Hyperventilate 07:31
2. No Me No You 06:06
3. Snowman 03:55
4. The Other Me 04:51
5. Black Light Machine 10:06
6. Milliontown 26:35

Jem Godfrey - Keyboards, Vocals
John Mitchell - Guitar, Vocals
John Jowitt - Bass
Andy Edwards - Drums
Guest: John Boyes - Guitar

See Inside Out records for the news, Jem's blog for more details, or the Frost MySpace site for samples.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Magenta Launch Home at the CRS

Well, after a long wait, several delays, it changed from a double CD, then to a single CD, now it's a special edition with a second CD. The track titles were changing and even some tracks were being re-written just before the final mixing, but finally Magenta's album Home will officially be released on 1st June. The album was launched on Saturday night at the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham, where the CD was on sale.

Saturday night was a great celebration of finally releasing home, even if the special edition wasn't quite ready. . (upgrade kit being mailed today to add the second CD)

This isn't a review as such (need a bit more time for that, just some thoughts on the night, but I WILL complete a fuller review)

Some highlights for me were the Towers of Hope, where that big chord for the first chorus sent waves of shivers down my back. Now THAT"S how I like my music !! So much more powerful live than on the CD I might add. The band all were giving it their all on the night. Chris must have been watching some old rock DVD's, cos he's clearly outgrown that little stage at the CRS, playing around the stack, and even in the audience, and clearly having great fun. The 20 minute starter Children of the Sun, and equally long White Witch were great performances. Every time I looked at Alan, his face was had serious determination written all across it. The interplay between Chris and Christina really is becoming a big part of any Magenta performance, and even more so on Saturday, it really summed up the fun the whole band seemed to be having. Even Martin was coaxed out of his hiding place behind Rob at one point :P. We even had Dan playing some acoustic on Morning Sunlight. And Christina's voice? Superb

So Chris's guitar was a bit low in the mix, a few intro's were fluffed due to very little time between the songs, and some of Rob's keyboard sounds (particularly piano) could be fuller sounds more like the album, and the stage at the HLC is so low you can't see much from past the first few rows, but it was a GREAT night!

I took about 175 pictures, lots of duplicates, lots if heads etc but a few decent ones. I'll get them posted to my PBase account and link any particularly good ones.

The setlist was:

Children of the Sun
King of the Skies

From Home:
Moving On
The Journey
Towers of Hope
Morning Sunlight
The Dream
The Visionary


The White Witch
Pride (end section)

Home - What a cracking album

Still working on a full review of the new Magenta album Home, for publication this week, but already it's a cracking, beautiful album. So much emotion and dynamics in the overall work, it is sure to surpass the praise even Seven received.

Production is superb. A very clean and natural sound, with great dynamics, not over compressed, and no obvious clipping from what I can hear so far. This is WAY better than many mainstream releases I've listened to lately. Great work Rob !!

This album does several key things for Magenta. Not only does it take a huge gamble in moving from lengthy very proggy numbers to many shorter pieces, linked by a storyline, and even several ballads, it simply showcases the writting and performing talents of Rob Reed, and the vocals of Christina, which unbelievably continue to get better.

This is an album that will have wider appeal than previous releases, and is likely to even cross-over somewhat to non-prog audiences. It is more accessible for those who don't like their music more than 4 minutes in length (even if a few tracks are longer than this), but retains enough of the melodic prog influences to keep the die hards happy. There are sections which clearly hit at influences such as Mike Oldfield, Yes and Genesis in here, even Elton John when he did some semi-prog kind of stuff in the 70s.

So stay tuned any readers out there for a full review coming soon. (How do you tune to a web site? Maybe I should say stay surfed)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hot Stuff

With 90+ degrees, and 90+ humidity, sitting in the shade with a cold beer is a very necessary activity in Singapore. Thankfully some nice Australian decided it would be a good idea to open up a microbrewery called Brewerkz by the river at Clarke Quay.
Apart from the beer, food is another great pastime here . .

Breakfast - Parathas with curry gravy

Lunch - BBQ pork with rice and hot chilli sauce

Dinner - Frogs Legs with dried chilli, Golden Chicken and baby Kai Lan

Another favourite is Chilli crab (above). With all that chilli, I've still never worked out why someone invented it, or even how to use a squat toilet!

It seems there is a general issue in Asia NOT to squat on what the West would call a 'normal' toilet seat. This is a real poster hanging on some Asian loos believe it or not.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Isn't Technology Wonderful

Well, as an engineer by profession, it's great to see the wonders of modern science roll out before you and present opportunities never before dreamed of. Boeing now offer airlines teh ability to provide Wireless Internet access while in the air. This has been available from Singapore Airlines for about 6 months already, but this is the first time I've used it to post to the blog. A great way to pass some the 12.5 hours there and 14.5 hours back from London, with a few forum posts, a browse here and there and the odd few credit card purchases :O)

Anyway, this time I hope to keep the blog going while I'm in the warmer climes, not that any sado really reads this to be honest anyway :OP

Signing off from 38,000 feet

Captain Sparky . . .