Ironically the Montgomery Hall played host to Frost* for the final show with original drummer Andy Edwards several years ago, leader Jem Godfrey dissolving the band soon afterwards. The current version return to Yorkshire on the back of their long-awaited third album, and Edwards is here too, albeit with his new project Kiama alongside keyboardist Rob Reed (Magenta), guitarist Luke Machin (Maschine/The Tangent) and The Reasoning vocalist Dylan Thompson. Kiama’s stock-in-trade is a mostly mellow brand of neo prog, of which Reed’s cinematic synth chords are the backbone, leaving plenty of airspace for drums and guitar to cut through when required. Cold Black Heart and the rousing Slip Away are highlights, guest vocalist Tesni Jones adding top end to Thompson’s rich vocal. The honest frontman admits to channelling Floyd’s Animals for the atmospheric Muzzled, which is the set highlight.
Keyboardist Jem Godfrey and omnipresent guitarist John Mitchell may well be seen as the creative half of Frost*, but with bassist Nathan King (Level 42/It Bites) and drummer Craig Blundell (now with Steven Wilson), they have a line-up that can perform anything their celebrated songwriters can come up with. Diving headlong into the new Falling Satellites opus, Godfrey enters the stage alone to play the album intro First Day and the others join in on the catchy Numbers, complete with its intricate three-part harmony chorus. Monitor issues lead to frequent gesticulations about sound levels, but as they get into the crowd’s favourite instrumental, Hyperventilate, frowns are replaced by smiles and the obvious camaraderie that these four share is a joy to watch. Despite sounding fine, Godfrey apologises for his voice and states that King will be on “stunt vocals” this evening, the bassist shadowing a lot of the lead vocals to great effect.
An amusing demonstration of the much-maligned Vocoder prefaces Signs, another new song awash with glorious melodies, after which Godfrey quips, “I told everyone I was going to write a song longer than Milliontown… I lied!” He’s referring to the six songs assembled as the Sunlight suite and played here in order, which includes the stunning Heartstrings, Mitchell aping Joe Satriani’s tone and solo on Closer To The Sun, and more stunning instrumental interplay on the cleverly titled Hypoventilate.
The set proper ends with Godfrey alone at the piano again for Last Day, which leaves just enough time for an encore of the scintillating Black Light Machine and a rather surprising rendition of The Other Me. It’s refreshing to see a band playing technical music with such joy, where any mistakes are owned up to and laughed at.
It’s one of the many reasons why Frost* have been sorely missed.