Friday 10 October 2008

Summer's End Festival, Lydney

Lydney is an old-fashioned place. When I arrived on Sunday morning for the last day of the festival, I thought I'd walk up to the high street for a quick Costa, but I quickly realised it wasn't that sort of town. So, I drove up to Norchard, where there is a lovingly preserved branch-line station, and had a nice cup of tea whilst sat in an old train carriage.

Back in the town, the festival was based at the village hall, which worked well as a venue. Like the town, the hall had a slightly run-down, 1950's feel about it, but the organisation seemed generally good and the festival was very informal and friendly.

I enjoyed Abel Ganz and thought Thieves Kitchen were very interesting; they make life hard for themselves with continual changes and twists in their music, so sometimes it's hard to keep up with where each tune is headed, but I really like them.

Frost* put on an extraordinarily impressive show; they are a dynamic and powerful band and it suddenly felt like rural Gloucestershire had been invaded by some hot-shot rock stars. But Frost* don't take themselves too seriously; the top-notch musicianship and complicated music is leavened by a Pythonesque sense of humour, and the band seemed to have a great time.

I tried to find somewhere for a meal in the break before The Tangent, but ended up in a pub with a pint of John Smith's and a bag of pork scratchings, which seemed to fit the generally sepia-toned feel of the day.

Thankfully for the slightly progged-out, thinking-about-work-the-next-morning audience, The Tangent came on very promptly and, with Rob Aubrey in charge of mixing (as he was with Frost* and Thieves Kitchen) sounded very strong, despite the number of musicians competing for musical space. Again, there was plenty of spontaneous humour which the crowd enjoyed.
I didn't stay for the whole set but was impressed with what I heard.

I had a nice quick dash home to Bournemouth via the Old Severn Bridge - just a couple of hours on empty roads.

All in all, an excellent festival in an interesting, off-the-beaten-track location. It was good to see some old friends and to hear the diversity on the prog scene. Aside from a few young female Frosties, the audience was predominantly male and middle-aged which makes me wonder, as I always do, about how prog bands can reach a younger audience (difficult unless the band is coming from a heavy rock background such as Opeth, Oceansize, The Mars Volta.)

There was also a worrying tendency for many of the middle-aged men in the audience to wear three-quarter-length trousers. I don't think that's a good idea at all.

Next gig: Sigur Ros in November.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed an excellent Chinese banquet just across the road from the John Smiths pub!

I seem to be in a minority but I just don't 'get' Frost*'.

Enjoyed the weekend, though.

When will we see BBT?

Jem said...

Don't worry, I don't get them either.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg,

here in Germany it seems that we have a kind of a little prog renaissance, caused by the reunion of the famous "Kraut" band Grobschnitt, well known from the 70's and 80's for their outstanding live shows. The reunion band consists of 4 original members (voc/git, voc/light, bass/voc, dr), completetd by a new Keyboarder and 3 sons (!) of the bandmembers (git, git, perc).
During the last half year, I had the opportunity to see them playing live for 3 times and they are better than ever. And because all the old guys (like me :) ) take their children to the shows, there is a growing fanbase in the youth as well. So far, nearly all shows are sold-out (even in bigger locations >3000 persons).

Btw, will it be possible to see BBT live here in Germany?

Sers, MatD