HRH Prog V proved to be another huge hit and HRH Mag was there to witness every minute. Here’s Garry Willey’s Day Two wrap.
High Spek Prog
More sideways rain and more, much more fabulous music as the festival’s twin stages ignited.
The buzz around Red Spektor has been eye-catching and watching the Stoke stoner-rock three-piece slam down a powerhouse, full throttle set to open Stage Two showed the whispers will only get louder.
These boys are hard to ignore – and impossible not to like.
Ok, they were raw here and there but if anything that rawness lit an irresistible fire under their old-school sound.
They really shook the venue alive – no mean feat at 1.20 on a wet and windy Friday – and it was clear they were having a blast.
Breakthrough success is thundering on a horizon none too distant.
Lee-thal Revolver Shoots For Success
HRH made it to the main arena in time to see the rather excellent Pearl Handled Revolver slide effortlessly through their stylish noir journey.
Front man Lee Vernon’s razor-raw vocals, the organ shimmers and the band’s cool groove hit the mark.
The song’s were strong – Rabbit Hole, all blue soul and dark heartbeat, was a gem alongside the slow burn of If The Devil Casts His Net – and the set supremely well-paced.
It was a particular treat to hear Lee let fly some damn fine harmonica, too!!
Breathe In The Camp HRH Air
Ah, Curved Air. Now we are talking what those of us hooked in the 70s would call ‘proper’ prog.
The band’s fabulous live album from their halcyon folk-flecked days was sensibly given a note-perfect revisit for the festival, with violin virtuoso Paul Sax and guitarist Kit Morgan trading riffs like their lives were on the line.
Up front the remarkable Sonja Kristina was in fine voice, superb through rampant renditions of the classics Maria Antoinette, Young Mother and Proposition.
The band’s best known cut Back Street Luv was a safe and inevitable closer. Sonja’s pledge to ‘sign anything you put in front of us’ after the show was a little more daring…
Harvest Time Provides Prog Feast
The stakes were personally high for HRH as John Lees and his Barclay James Harvest followed in Ms Kristina’s swirling slipstream. First love and all that, you understand. So it is with vast relief a happy ending can be recorded.
Even if some of his solos had lost a little of their fire, John’s voice and the band’s songs had not.
Recreating the epic Summer Soldier/Medicine Man medley for the first time since the 70s was inspired and Mockingbird was a moving moment, not because it remains a shyly beautiful prog gem but for the time gone and the life lived since it was first heard.
Wind Of Change
And so, with rafters meeting proggers and anticipation reaching 11, the extraordinary Hawkwind brought a splendid day to its rightful conclusion.
What’s left to say about a band whose line-up changes alone would out word-count the complete biography of mere mortal troubadours?
Well, only that they can still kick it and lick it to the exhilarating max.
And by God, Silver Machine STILL sounds fresh!!
*Exclusive Images By HRH Festivals Photographer Simon Dunkerley