The Robin 2 in Bilston, the Mecca of prog rock in the Midlands played host to two fantastic Prog bands, Credo and The Tangent, a night of most excellent music, two bands that rocked the crowd and the house. Two bands that really define the Prog genre, two bands that differ in approach and sound, who intelligent offer their music, with no air or graces, no pretentions, no ego's, just playing music because, well ... music is their life.
Credo opened the show with their inimitable style and class, presenting the audience with their unreleased but fantastic Round and Round, a staple song of their set, with its melodic hooks, a song that is comforting, powerful and memorable. Mike Varty's keyboards married with Tim Birrell's emotional and powerful guitar leading the way. Mark Colton as ever, the wordsmith and method actor, let the lyrics roll from his mouth, being presented with loving care, enrapturing the crowd, who attentively stood and paid attention. The band had hit their stride from the first moment they hit the stage and played out of their skins.
Staring at the Sun the opening song off their new all Against Reason altered the whole dynamics; the urgent and inviting keyboard soiree of Varty really brought the song to life, Jim Murdoch exacting his dexterous bass playing was all over this punctual and bombastic song, a song about global warming. Note for note this song stands up there with the best of anything they have previously written. The whole song rides on a wave of crescendos, heavier in approach, hook laden guitar passages, a magnificent and majestic song. Birrell and Varty locking horns musically, whilst ring master Colton watched on grinning like a Cheshire cat, offering his heartfelt lyrical dalliances , whilst the band responding to each others musical statements. Martin Meads may have been sat at the back of the stage playing drums, but boy his contributions can't go without mention, a real unsung hero, precise, keeping everyone in check, adding character and depth to the whole affair.
Ghost of Yesterday was introduced by Mark, a song that has woeful memories for those that grew up in the 80's in Britain, a song that most people could relate to. It was presented with emotional dynamics both musically and verbally. Such was the power of the rendition of this song, if you closed your eyes you could clearly see the images offered. This is what Credo does best, offering the world their powerful melodies, measure and beat of the movement, falling inflections of both musical and vocal presentation.
As ever all good things come to an end and Credo chose to close their set with their magnum opus, From the Cradle to the Grave, a song which defines the band, being musically and lyrically brilliant. Their understanding of the power of music and words just sent shivers down the spines of the crowd, as they watched on in adulation, singing each word, as Colton manipulated the crowd backed by the confidence of the band, offering a sadness when the whole set came to an end.
The crowd offered a long applause for what they had witnessed and the buzz of the night was, "how was anyone going to follow that?" Without a doubt as a live force in today's musical arena Credo offer the ultimate statement in Neo Prog. Make no mistake, if you get chance to see this band don't hesitate............
Round and Round
Staring at the Sun
Ghost of Yesterday
From the Cradle to the Grave
Tonight ladies and gentlemen the mighty force that is The Tangent strode onto the stage to rapturous applause. Messer's Tillison, Barrett, Machin and Rickwood have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. These four gentlemen are for me and the crowd, the greatest British Prog band around, who actually personify what prog is, should and will always be.
Andy Tillison introduced the band in his own inimitable way, a man that speaks from the heart. Tonight was going to be special for one particular gentleman, Nick Rickwood, the new boy.... who more than rose to the challange of the evening, which was not an easy task, a baptism of fire, as Andy's song writing prowess is not for the faint hearted.
The band opened with the twenty minute plus Where Are They Now? a spectacle to behold, as its hard to believe that ten fingers manipulating a keyboard can generate such a work rate and still be gorgeous, stunning and awe inspiring. The band seemed to have a real spring in their step, their presentation almost like a rebirth. The musical narrative was adept, the band symbiotically built soundstages and air sculptures that a lot of bands can only dream of, all bets were off and tonight this was a band that meant business.
As ever Luke Machin took everything in his stride, a highly gifted guitarist that has really breathed his personality over the music, more than matching the complexity of Andy Tillison's keyboard playing. Perdu Dans Paris was played with impeccable perfection, mirroring the subject matter with its approach, with the band moving into GPS Culture that segued in The Music That Died Alone, an epic piece whose meter and timbre built and swooped, an expressive piece using differing styles and sounds, its musical notation and language took the audience on a dynamic journey, which allowed the music to really express itself.
Next up was a bit of a solo spot for Andy where he offered his rendition of Sale Of Two Souls, a dark musical tale which was punctuated with angst ridden vocals, which really displayed the stage presence of the keyboard maestro, a prelude to the final epic song of the night, the set closer In Darkest Dreams which included After Phaedra; a firm crowd favourite and the band played out of their skins, showing that they have the ability to play really succinct complex music, long musical interludes conforming to no rule book and not kowtowing to anyone. Jonathon Barrett traded passages with Luke's guitar soirees, bass tones that sent a shiver down the spines of the crowd whilst Rickwood adeptly nailed every drum passage as if he had been playing with the band for years, something that the crowd spoke about afterwards.
The stunning vibrancy, the intelligent musical structures, the magnitude of these creations confirmed tonight that The Tangent are the best British Prog band out there by a mile, something that the stunned crowd agreed with. The Tangent is at the top of their game, Tillison is The Tangent and his band of brothers would only agree. Tonight the band rocked the house and more importantly they rocked the crowd. The Tangent really are a must see band.
Where are they now
Perdu Dans Paris
The Music That Died Alone
Sale of Two Souls
In Darkest Dreams