Limelight: The Mighty Bard

The Mighty Bard’s musical output reminds us of an old saying – you wait ages for a bus and then three come at once…

Fans of the band had to wait a long time for The Mighty Bard’s debut album. A very long time. The High Wycombe sextet formed back in 2004, and 10 years later they finally released their first record, the self-funded Blue God And Other Stories. Now it seems the floodgates are open, with a stockpile of music ready to be immortalised in more LPs.

The decade-long wait for their maiden record, however, wasn’t down to laziness, inertia or a chronic case of shrugging shoulders. Just a little bit Spinal Tap, the melodic retro-proggers struggled with securing the right drummer, while previous tub-thumper Andy Dovey was taken ill.

We’ve been together about 10 years now so we’ve got a lot of material – probably three albums’ worth.

“We’ve been together about 10 years now, so as a result we’ve got a lot of material – probably three albums’ worth,” says guitarist and vocalist Dave Clarke. “And we’ve already started recording the next one.”

The group, whose tracks evoke an aura of regal storytelling, share influences such as Genesis, Camel and Queen, and it’s Clarke and former Silmarillion keyboard dynamo Neil Cockle who oversee the main formulation of their music.

Echoing the band’s name, The Mighty Bard’s lyrics often err on the side of poesy. For example, ‘Inside hope dies, you love the lies/You think you deserve your fate/Shallow and fawning, reality dawning/Who’d have thought it was such a bitter taste?’ they ask on Heart Of The Strangelove.

“It’s really a story,” Clarke says of the themes streaming through their record. “The lyrics are quite wordy and they usually come from a general idea. We’re in a progressive genre but we’re not trying to make progressive rock music – we try to write good songs, melodic songs.”

Though their music is rooted in bygone decades, The Mighty Bard are hoping to use contemporary technology to stream gigs to fans across the globe, with interest in faraway countries like Russia.

“We’ve been trying to get them sorted for a while,” Clarke says, adding that their first ‘soundcheck’ for the Stageit service involved having a mobile WiFi device struck onto “the end of a big stick” due to the poor signal in the countryside. “Hopefully we’ll start doing regular slots. Obviously some people won’t get to see us live so we’ll be able to reach out to them through that.”

With more records in the pipeline and the mammoth 19-minute song The Black Train beaming in their arsenal, the future looks bright for The Mighty Bard. And at the centre of it all, it seems, will continue to be heartfelt, stirring songwriting.

“We’re not trying to write to a particular audience,” states Clarke. “It’s emotion really. It makes us feel something and hopefully it might make other people feel something.”

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Dave Clarke (guitar/vocals),** Neil Cockle (keyboards), Gavin Webb (lead vocals), Mark Cadman (bass), Tom Mears (drums), Mark Parker **(electric violin /vocals)

sounds like

Genesis going on a pleasant Sunday drive through the countryside with Marillion in the back seat of the car

current release

Debut album Blue God And Other Stories is out now via IME


Chris Cope

A writer for Prog magazine since 2014, armed with a particular taste for the darker side of rock. The dayjob is local news, so writing about the music on the side keeps things exciting - especially when Chris is based in the wild norths of Scotland. Previous bylines include national newspapers and magazines.