HRH Mag’s Big Dog of Prog – Garry Willey – had been looking forward to a weekend of musical madness in Wales for weeks. Here’s his wrap of the Day One action at HRH Prog VI.
Harvest Proves Plentiful
The sun was out, the legions arriving and a hardy vanguard putting their prog knowledge to the test. Judging by the overall efforts at the Great Prog Quiz plenty knew their Rush from their Rick Wakeman. That said, HRH has to confess an embarrassing struggle to spot any significant difference between ass and arm-joint as the questions ticked away. Heading red faced towards a score that would make a Norwegian edgy at the Eurovision song contest, a miracle was needed. And lo, it duly arrived, a Godsent 10 pointer exclusively dedicated to the very grand Barclay James Harvest! Boots filled and awash with relief, HRH made it to the promised land of mediocrity.
Krank Up The Volume
There are many reasons to have warm, cuddly feelings for Krankshaft. The high octane trio – self-styled ‘time travellers’ from the 70s – throw prog and punk together with so much infectious enthusiasm it’s impossible not to smile, soak up the songs and fight the urge to pogo. Steve Pond does a nice line in geeky humour and the band are tighter than a Tory in the Treasury. They even stepped out on the intimate late-show stage after their awesome turn in the main hall AND were booked for a Day Two unplugged session. But more than anything, a group who can write a song about sheep – and make it seriously excellent – demand all our love!
No surprise Mostly Autumn closed day one with a meltingly note perfect set starred by epics like Evergreen and the tumultuous Questions. It was all rich, beautifully crafted and impeccably delivered. The only problem? Mostly Autumn do require a little commitment: you need to listen, submerge yourself and let the music work its magic. So it was hard for their softer moments to survive the bubble and squeak of background chat and bar banter. Camp HRH isn’t a monastery, of course, and music no autocracy. But you had to feel for the fans too close to the chatter.
O Crom All Ye Faithful
And while we are talking Mostly Autumn, a doff of the the cap to drummer Alex Cromarty, not just for his power and precision but the modest size of the drum kit. Cromarty went with the classic four piece plus hi-hat and a measly three cymbals. Hell, you could actually see him, a collector’s item when many stay hidden behind rigs so vast they look like military hardware. A certain Mr Watts would surely approve.
Cure All Confession
Honesty, no doubt, is the best policy but IO Earth’s likeable frontman Dave Cureton may have dropped himself in the sticky stuff – by fessing up to a fib. “I phoned in sick to come here,” Cureton told the crowd. “Fuck ’em!” Admirable dedication to the prog cause and all crossed his bosses miss those snaps of the man and band getting the festival off to a flyer.
Meanwhile, bandmate Luke Shingler needs to take a very deep bow. The hornman dropped THE “wow” moment of the night with a sax solo – and we mean totally solo – that was straight down outstanding and surely exposed his jazzer’s soul.
Exclusive images by HRH Mag Festivals Photographer Simon Dunkerley