We catch up with the Trinity 2 organisers about the prog rock charity event

A portrait of Ghost Community’s Matt Cohen and Touchstone’s Paul ‘Moo’ Moorghen
(Image: © Duncan Everson)

On Saturday May 27 some of the UK’s best-loved prog talents will converge on the beautiful art-deco venue of The Assembly in Leamington Spa. Trinity 2 will be an evening of live music headlined by John Mitchell’s Lonely Robot, and more prog-centric fun in support of Cancer Research UK, Teenage Cancer Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support.

It’s the belated follow-up to the first Trinity show back in May 2014, a real homegrown success story which saw Arena, The Reasoning, Touchstone, Magenta and other prog notables raise £9,000 for cancer charities. This year Prog is proudly getting behind this very special and worthwhile event.

For the second time old friends Matt Cohen – formerly of The Reasoning, now leader of Ghost Community – and Touchstone bassist Paul ‘Moo’ Moorghen have been thrust into the role of organisers, so we caught up with them to get the skinny on that first show, and for a peak at what’s in store for those who are up for a Saturday night of good music for a great cause. Tickets for Trinity 2 are available now through their website, trinitylive.co.uk.

PROG: It’s great news that Trinity is back. And headlined by Lonely Robot, no less.

MOO: Yes, we’re good mates with John [Mitchell]. When Touchstone was recording the EP, Lights In The Sky, at his studio, we told him we were trying to do Trinity again, and it’d be fantastic if he’d do a Lonely Robot 2 show for us. He’ll do the Marillion Weekend and his launch party a bit before, but he’ll be doing most of the new album and old stuff so it’s still a bit of an exclusive. We’re so pleased to have him as the headliner. Everyone knows him, and we want to attract as many people to the event as we can.

PROG: You’ll both be playing, with Ghost Community and Touchstone. Who else is on the bill?

MOO: We’ve got Elkie [former Touchstone singer Kim Seviour]. It’ll be her first ever solo gig, with her full band. She’s finishing up her album, it sounds brilliant and I can’t wait to see her. She has a lot of fans, so hopefully that’s a draw too.

MATT: Dec Burke’s playing a set, who’s brilliant, and we’ve got A Formal Horse from Southampton.

PROG: A Formal Horse are great – more avant-garde than others, maybe?

MATT: Yes, they’re quirky. There’s a tendency with these things to dip into the same pot all the time, so we thought we’d dip into another one and try something a bit different, to have them open and show the expanse of the prog scene.

MOO: So it’s £35 and you’ve got six really good bands. If we all charge a tenner each per ticket usually, it’s still cheaper than coming to see us all separately. It’s us who are going into debt! We want people to come down and have a party and help raise some money.

MATT: Yes, that money’s not going in our pockets – it’s all going to three charities. It’s like turning up, putting 30 quid in a charity box then watching six bands for free.

PROG: An event like this takes a lot of planning. How did you wind up organising the first Trinity concert in 2014?

MOO: The original concept was to give this country’s prog scene a package gig. You get the same people going to the same gigs, so we thought we could get more people coming in and make it worth their while and money by having three bands, Touchstone, The Reasoning and Magenta. We planned to do three gigs at three different venues, and each play one of our albums in full. So three bands, three gigs, three albums. We had Rob Reed involved, me, Matt, Adam Hodgson and Chris Lynch, who owned The Assembly in Leamington Spa – that’s why that venue got involved. It was all going well, then Tina Booth got her breast cancer diagnosis. It was terrible for her of course, and they didn’t think she could do the gig. We thought, Shit! What shall we do? We still wanted to put something on, so we wracked our brains. As well as Tina, Chris Lynch’s cousin had had a really aggressive brain tumour. So we decided to crack on, get some more bands involved and do it for three charities, Brain Tumour Research, Breast Cancer Awareness and Cancer Research UK.

MATT: We ended up with six bands. Last minute we realised, ‘We need a headline act!’, and Arena agreed to do it. We had Touchstone, my old band, Magenta. Alan Reed and Matt Stevens did acoustic sets. Heather Findlay got stuck on the motorway and we had to rejig the order [laughs]. It was so intense, with making sure the day ran properly. We did an auction, so we were busy getting the items in for that. It’s easy organising your own gigs, you take it in your stride, but this quickly became very important. It had to run smoothly and raise money.

PROG: What items were in the auction?

MOO: Geddy Lee sent us some signed Rush merch, we had a signed Flying Colors lyric sheet, Steven Wilson gave us some stuff and so did Marillion, Asia, loads of people were really generous. [Sci-fi/fantasy artists] Rodney Matthews did a painting for us. And we did a raffle. It was amazing, people were bringing their friends and family. And, best gift of all, Tina had recovered enough to do some songs with Magenta.

MATT: We had the charities there with their stalls. It became this little community thing, it was wonderful. You can’t just say you’re doing it for these three charities and not tell them - they have to sign it off. They’ll be at the venue again this year too. At the end there was relief that everything worked. It all came about because of something so inherently sad, so you wanted it to be fantastic, and it was. We had a little glass of champagne – we’d pulled it off, all this money’s been raised to help people we know, and many we don’t. After a big gig you always get the post-gig blues, but I didn’t this time. I just had this sense of achievement with people who are close to me – Moo, Adam, Chris. Making it work on a friendship level and to not fall out, that was fantastic too.

PROG: What do you remember about your actual sets?

MATT: All I remember was the light glinting off my bass’s tuning pegs. It was hitting the balcony, and it was this Homer Simpson moment, I was just laughing. It sounds nuts, but I was so exhausted.

MOO: It was my first gig back after I’d had an operation on my spine, and I’d been told I probably wouldn’t play bass again. I went out there had a massive blast, and breathed fire, and don’t remember much about it! We played for an hour on stage, for the rest of the time we ran around like blue-arsed flies making sure the bands and fans were happy. Went out to watch Arena and thought, Wow, there’s a lot of heads in here. There was a sense of elation, a party atmosphere. People went on social media for weeks after, saying what a good gig it was. For a bunch of prog people to do something like that was very fulfilling and we knew we wanted to do it again.

PROG: So how come there’s been a two-year gap between Trinity 1 and 2?

MATT: We couldn’t get the headline act we wanted in 2015, then we couldn’t get the venue, so we thought, Let’s do it next year…

MOO: But then we were too busy, with the lovely day jobs we have to suffer as well. The venue owner has changed, but we know Mike from MJR who runs it now. They were aware of Trinity as it was being talked about, and he was keen to do it. It costs a fortune – bar staff, security – but Mike was very forthcoming.

PROG: Has it been easier arranging the concert second time out?

MOO: We’re a bit more confident asking for things, like donations for the auction. I found it a bit daunting at first. You’ve met these megastars at a gig, then you’re asking, ‘Umm, any chance I can get a bunch of signed kit?!’

MATT: Steven Wilson’s sent a pic of him playing Hammersmith and a signed pass from Be Prog! My Friend. Rodney Matthews has done us another amazing painting – he’s a big supporter and comes along as well. Marillion have given us a deluxe boxset of F.E.A.R. And there’s some other stuff we can’t talk about just yet, but it’s really starting to take shape. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been easier, and enjoyable too.

MOO: In a sadomasochistic kind of way!

PROG: Is the plan to make Trinity an annual event?

MATT: If this year is a success then yes. We’ve got a great team around us now, everyone knows how it’s working and what we’re trying to achieve, we can plan in advance. And after all, you’re working with friends, sticking together to make it happen. We’ve got Chris [Lynch], one of the greatest sound guys you’ll ever hear, and his lighting guy. We’ve got Graeme ‘Twig’ Bell as stage manager. Steph Farrer’s dealing with the PR side, and she’s a marvel, she’s like the Duracell bunny. All our backstage guys are coming in for nothing. The whole organisation’s ready to step up and get it sorted.

MOO: And we’ve got Prog! You can sit on Facebook all day to get the message out, but it doesn’t go very far - they’ve got all their blocks on it, unless you pay. On Twitter too, stuff gets missed. So the magazine’s support is invaluable. When /Prog/ puts stuff on the website or Facebook it gets out much, much further, to places we couldn’t otherwise reach. It’s priceless for the Trinity event that Prog’s spreading the word.

MATT: The thing is, we’ve all been affected by the Big C, so everybody understands what this is about, and it benefits everyone. Ghost Community’s ethos is ‘we’re all in this together’. It’s the same here. No egos, no one-upmanship. We’re all doing it for compassionate, caring reasons.

PROG: So will we be hearing new Ghost Community songs at the show, Matt?

MATT: Not this time. I’m still writing it! We’ve only gigged a handful of times so a lot of people haven’t heard what we’re about, so it’s about making sure we’re comfortable onstage and entertaining people.

PROG: And Moo, this’ll be an early show for your new singer, Aggie?

MOO: Yes, we did our Christmas bashes and Winter’s End, but Aggie’s still getting into the scene. She’s come from a musical theatre background in Poland, so she’s got no clue about prog really. Muse is her favourite band, and whatever you talk about, it always turns back to Muse! It’s all working out well though, and we’re writing for another album this year. We’ll do new stuff off the EP, and old stuff too.

PROG: Will it be odd to have Kim there too?

MOO: Not really. I’m just looking forward to seeing her play. I always thought I’d love to stand out front and watch us as band, so this is as close as I’ll get. Kim’s so talented, it’s such a shame she had to leave our band. I’m just so glad she’s well enough to be playing again.

PROG: What’s the deal with the aftershow?

MOO: We’ve hired out the bar downstairs in the Assembly, the Zephyr Lounge, and we’re selling tickets for that, we’ve just released some extra tickets for that actually. Your editor Jerry Ewing’s doing a DJ set, and we’re going to drink beer, and meet the people who’ve come,

MATT: You’ll get to hang out with the bands, because we’ll all be there mingling and having a giggle. Everyone will be loitering at the bar. So please come – the more the merrier!

Trinity 2 is on Saturday May 27 at The Assembly, Leamington Spa. For tickets and more info go to trinitylive.co.uk.