Once again, the dry ice billows and a sparkly cape rustles amid the haze, for the Progmeister is back with another ace review. Take it….away….
“THE BLACK CHORD CHIMES OUT IN TUTS”
4/5 WAKEMEN-CAPES FOR MUSIC. SOLD OUT!
Well first of all I have a puzzle for you … how do you fit 3 prog/rock bands into a maximum allowance of say 3 hours? Answer is you can’t. This is the continuing problem in this venue (as I have said before). Doors are 20.30 – actually they opened at 20.50 – resulting in all bands having to perform shorter sets. But as all Progmeisters know this cannot be done with our genre of music. Its relies long, building passages very much like an orchestral recital.
This started right away with support bands HIDDEN MASTERS and PURSON performing what seemed rushed sets, but I must say they both won over the crowd with different types of Prog/Rockabilly/Goth Rock music.
ASTRA arrived on stage at 22.20 & immediately encountered technical problems (this being down to using old-fashioned type equipment for their music, Moogs/Mellotrons & Fender Rhodes etc). After this false start off they launched with track from new cd THE BLACK CHORD – QUAKEMEAT, a great intro for this very competent young five piece band from San Diego. After a great show of virtuoso heights they then continued to play five more songs, THE BLACK CHORD , THE RIVER UNDER, OUROBOROS, THE RISING OF THE BLACK SUN & the showstopper THE WEIRDING. Great music, all with highs a plenty, long soloing but never appearing indulgent, 23.30 on the button & ASTRA were gone rather disappointingly, no encore due to … well you know the rest! And after talking with two of the band afterwards found out they wanted to play at least two more songs but local curfew stopped this. A masterclass performance apart from all these problems.
Maybe my next review will not mention CURFEW – I really do hope so because that means it was a perfect night for us all.
Message to promoters at KTWWH – sort this out & let Prog Thrive again in Glasgow.
Sad to recount, Debbie Miller, a good friend and great fantasy writer, has passed away. I first met Debbie when her first novel, Talisker, was published by Simon & Schuster’s Earthlight imprint at the same time as Shadowkings, part one of my fantasy trilogy. We were both ’discovered’ by the redoubtable John Jarrold, prince among men, who was head honcho for Earthlight. At that time she was writing under the name Miller Lau, having adopted her (formerly) married surname as a nom-de-plume. Talisker was book of her determinedly Scottish fantasy sequence, The Last Clansman trilogy. Round about the time that the final volumes of both our trilogies were due to appear, Simon & Schuster had a fit of deck-clearing; having already dispensed with John Jarrold and promoted Darren Nash to editor, they then decided that Earthlight was unnecessary and ditched Darren too, with upsetting consequences for their stable of writers. (Its worth pointing out that John and Darren went on to higher, greater greener pastures in subsequent years.)
Anyway, not wishing to laboriously go into a detailed historical account (although it should certainly be noted that the David Gemmell Award would not exist were it not for Debbie’s iron resolve and cheery and creative persistence) I need only say that the last time I saw Debbie last year she was looking better than she had for a while, having been through gruelling courses of chemo, and was looking forward to regaining some of her former energies and forward momentum.
But it was not to be. In January of this year the cancer reappeared and this time she was not able to overcome it and on May 7th she passed away. The field has lost one of its champions, and I have lost a good friend – part of me feels diminished by the loss, but my memories of her genuine nature and her indefatigable joy more than makes up for it.
Vale, Debs. Safe journey.
Cannot believe that I somehow forgot to post the link here to the movie-trailer for The Ascendant Stars – it was on the list of posts and reachouts to fulfill but….ach, must have had a senior moment of some kind. Darn, another coupla million braincells gone west. But anyway, now, here it is!
The animator is a Yorkshire guy called Ingram Blakelock, who has done various other pieces including the video for the band, A Forest Of Stars, for their track Gatherer Of The Pure. Here’s a link to it -
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Another in a continuing series, a concert review from the Progmeister General!
CROWES SOAR OVER GLASGOW…….. AT LAST!
(RATING - 5 CROWS NESTS; ATTENDANCE 4000 APPROX (SOLD OUT); TOTAL PLAYING TIME 2 HRS 15 MINS)
So almost ten years since they last roosted in the famous Barrowlands ballroom (although the LIONS tour was not a triumph). The BLACK CROWES finally made it back…But boy was it worth the long wait!
A massive sell out crowd of around 4000 shoehorned into this great hall for what we all agreed after was a true night of CROWES history. Talking to sound crew, this gig was always set up to be special! On the LIONS TOUR 2003 it was like a band who was just about to disintegrate, as it turned out for almost five years. Not tonight though, from the opening dual guitars of “JEALOUS AGAIN” right through to the third encore (more off later) the CROWES did indeed deliver the corn and then some!
Chris Robinson & brother Rich along with mainstay drummer Steve Gorman were so together in music that it reminded me of “SOUTHERN HARMONY” tour of 1990, yes it was that good. At times they were simply spellbinding; new guitarist Jackie Green may go on to be another Marc Ford – on this performance I cant wait! “SPACE CAPTAIN”, & “OH JOSEPHINE” paved the way for truly jaw-dropping stunners like “WISER TIME” & “HOTEL ILLNESS” where the band jammed long but never bored or indulged themselves. Acoustic section was short but oh so sweet, “GARDEN GATE” & “WHOA MULE” before launching into a storming “SHE TALKS TO ANGELS” & “HIGH HEAD BLUES” then finishing the set off with a truly remarkable “BY YOUR SIDE”, “SOMETIMES SALVATION” & end song of “HARD TO HANDLE/HUSH (yes a storming version of Deep Purple classic). The crowd responded so much that Chris signaled to the band after a short interlude & they played in my opinion the two best CROWES tracks “DESCENDING” from the past & “GOODBYE DAUGHTERS OF THE REVOLUTION” from the present era CROWES, but the fans were still making an amazing noise for more, So “BOOMERS STORY” followed & you could see the band was visibly astounded with this very lively & noisy crowd, Chris then put on his hat, coat & scarf , He thanked us all for keeping the faith all these years & promised to return soon. Truly concise & complete they walked of stage, lets hope they will return, GLASGOW deserves it! Only one disappointment, no Kate Hudson – oh well, can’t win them all then.
Would have posted comments on this years Eastercon (main GOH Walter Jon Williams) before now but have been somewhat under the weather (trans – poleaxed by another bout of recurring viral loathsomeness). But here at last is my take on it.
Travelled down by train, with just the one change at Preston, arriving mid-afternoon at Bradford Interchange station. After some clueless wandering, I got a cab to the Jurys Inn hotel (which turned out to be a short walk away, ho ho), and thence further on to the Cedar Court Hotel, where the con was being held.
All my panels were on the Saturday so I spent a good bit of Friday just catching up with old writer buddies and other friends, supping the odd pint and swooping into the dealers room for a looksee. Saturday kicked off with a panel on Walter Jon Williams’ book ‘This Is Not A Game’, and not long after the start who should come to sit at the back of the room but Walter Jon hisself! Still, we managed to acquit ourselves without sounding overly-fannish.
Next was the panel titled, ‘A Constitution For A Mars Colony’, moderated by myself in conjunction with Ian Sales…sorry, that should be BSFA-award-winning Ian Sales (seeing as how he won just such a trophy for his story Adrift On The Sea Of Rains). My original intent was for me to kick off with a short speech on politics and the fundamental concepts of democracy and democratic institutions, then Ian would come in with the hard science aspect and the strigent exigencies that running such a colony would entail. But interaction with the audience started to blur the lines a bit after Ian got started, turning into a kind of ongoing to and fro between us and the audience and amongst the audience itself. And it turned out to be very interesting, much more so than I thought it might! so, result.
Later I was on a panel on motherhood in SF, to which I`d doubted I could make a worthwhile contribution, but then I did pitch in with a showstopper narrative concept near the end which rendered the room deathly quiet (in essence, the plot form in which a parent has to kill a child)(I know, grim). Oh, and before that I was on a panel to do with steampunk morality, which seemed to touched on the stark reality of the impoverished existence of the majority of the population during the age of steam and Victoria – but prevailing sentiments favoured a less miserable approach to steampunk.
Sunday was a day for yacking one’s gob off with chums and colleagues, along with a signing event in the morning, then more chinwaggery followed by dealer room visits, more chat, drink, chat, and then the BSFA awards – and Mr Sales’ surprising and gratifying award for short fiction. Some may imply that I got slightly squiffy later on, and mention the involvement of a bottle of counterfeit Baileys, but….I couldn’t possibly comment.
Come Monday I had not enough time to use the convention bus to get to the Cedar Court for a last gander at the dealer room and be sure of getting a bus back in time for my train, so I relaxed at the hotel until checking out and took that not so long walk over to the station. The journey back went without a hitch until I got to Preston – then there was an obstruction on the line to Warrington, and after that the lights at Warrington ceased functioning properly,. Anyway, in the event I got into Glasgow over a hour late and just seconds too late to get a connection to Irvine. But hey, another left 15 mins later, so home in time for Easter dinner!
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Well, from Bradford, host to this years Eastercon, and in fact outside the con hotel Bradford was indeed beset by icy winds, in drastic contrast to the near-saharan temperatures with which hotels bombard their guests these days. This is just a quick HOORAH for Ian Sales who won the BSFA Award for best short fiction for his story, ‘Adrift On The Sea Of Rains’. Huzzah, say I!
Here we are, SF Signal’s Mindmeld to which I was invited to contribute – see my take on this about halfway down!
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First sorry about no content in last month , but I am afraid I was very ill with a virus. So without further ado here is my review of a truly great night with the Dixie Chickens (aka Little Feat).
“OH GLASGOW” – BAND ON STAGE 20.20 OFFSTAGE (AS PER CURFEW GRRR!!!!) 22.05 (Crowd Number Approx 5000/Sellout)(RATING – 5 Bottleneck Slides Out of 5!)
Weather that you wouldnt put milk bottles out in (anyone remember them), and still the feat army turned up, on a Sunday night to boot, 5000 making the effort to see what has always been a consistent masterclass in Southern Fried Boogie. New, old & special songs – The feat know what their crowd wants & duly deliver … and more. The six members just casually wander on to the stage with no announcement & play; this is their first time in Glasgow for around 4 years & boy do they want to make up for lost time, launching into “TIME LOVES A HERO” & warming up while playing to a crescendo, this classic slide- driven song with FRED TACCHETTE & PAUL BARREREE trading licks like no tomorrow. They then proceeded to play & visibly enjoy their “GLASGOW JAM SESSION” – anybody not initiated will not know a LITTLE FEAT gig is just one long glorious jam of varying types of music from Atlanta Georgia. Classics followed - ”FAT MAN IN THE BATHTUB”, an amazing highlight of these, along with very emotional “WILLING/THE WEIGHT”, dedicated to fallen brothers LOWELL GEORGE (slide genius of the 70′s) & Mr Drums “RICHIE HAYWARD”; RIP boys, never forgotten. The usual curfew (don’t get me started) of 22.00 was almost met after showstoppers SPANISH MOON & DIXIE CHICKEN - And that was it, lots of thank yous & waves then they were gone! After the show I was privileged to meet KENNY GRADNEY (BASS PLAYER) for just 5 minutes & what a nice unassuming guy he was. He summed up the night perfectly “GLASGOW, LITTLE FEAT, BEERS & MOST OF ALL YOU GUYS, HEAVEN”. I shook his hand & wandered off satisfied into the Glasgow night whistling LITTLE FEAT tunes …….. As I have done since 1976 oh yeah !
Steampunk, eh? It’s a funny old subgenre – although the roots of its modern iteration seem to take in Blaylock and Powers (by long, diversionary way of Verne and Wells), its proliferation across internet cultures is producing some unforseen irruptions, like bizarre hothouse hybrids unfurling in humid shadowy corners.
Most obvious is the whole cosplay thing, which I really kinda like. Unlike some of my SF/fantasy compadres (and fellow travellers), I’ve never experienced any contempt or irritation for costuming and masquerades – I’ve been going to conventions since back in 1979, and just love all the gaudy aspects of them, and since steampunk textures have begun to mingle with that overall gallimaufry its made it all feel that much more enjoyable for me.
Other aspects are cropping up on TV, for example – Bruce Boxleitners Lantern City, for example – http://lanterncitytv.com/ – sounds utterly fascinating. Really hope it gets off the ground. Then there’s video games, most recently Dishonoured, which had more of a dieselpunk feel to it, and the upcoming and anticipated Bioshock Infinite, set on a floating balloon city in 1912! – if you’ve not seen any of the promotional vids for this, you really need to go to youtube and give yr eyes a treat.
There is one aspect of steampunk, and the political context of a steampowered culture, at least as far as we can reckon it from our own history – which is that life for the great mass of people throughout most of the 1800s, the Victoria era, was miserable, grinding poverty. Its okay, it really is, to writer a fun, light-in-tone caper story in that kind of setting, but writers should also be aware of political realities, and try not to mislead the reader about the nature of power under such regimes.
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Some of you may recall that I have in the past posted up music/gig reviews from an old callcentre buddy of mine, former drummer with Chasar, Mr Graeme Fleming. We`ll be doing a few more of those in the months ahead, and in the meantime, here’s a word or two from the man hisself;
Progmeister General here; after long & healthy discussions Ziggy Mikey has asked me to contribute a music feel to his blog. As well as our own reviews, we would love to hear any ideas or requests you may have. It does not have to be Prog – if it has a beat we will listen.
I have been a good friend of Mr Cobley for almost 15 years & we both know what makes us click, so please feed back to Mike any ideas or opinions you may have ok … stay tuned coming up LITTLE FEAT review at O2 GLASGOW & the new NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE CD PSYCHEDELIC PILL. Keep Mellotrons on full & set controls for heart of the blog !!