Live: Ramblin' Man Fair, Prog Stage

Acts old and new mingled brilliantly in Prog's purple palace.

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Touchstone are splitting up at the end of the year. But following openers Unto Us onto the Prog Stage, they’re scintillating.

And vocalist Kim Seviour is a revelation – a solo star in the making.

Messenger’s cool pool of psychedelic jamborees ignites the audience. They’re in total contrast to Pendragon, whose old-school prog charms are perfect for the mid-afternoon slot, easing everyone into Haken’s charismatic presentation. This is a band growing in stature with almost every gig, as are Anathema, who are on the crest of a rising wave. They’re not just musical alchemists, mixing quiet contemplation with creative surges, but have distinct positivity. This is a thrilling set that reveals growing momentum.

For Camel, this is confirmation of their status as prog gods. The headliners on the first night are sublime, with Andy Latimer showing everyone that he’s a severely undervalued guitarist, while the band’s canon of evocative music is majestic.

The rain trickles down as Anna Phoebe opens the stage on the second day. But nothing dampens the voilinist and her band, who are in an ebullient mood. Sadly, Knifeworld who follow are the one band on the whole weekend at this stage to suffer bad sound. It dampens their wacky impact.

But the sound is sharp for The Pineapple Thief, who combine darkness and melody with a disturbing ease, while Riverside’s epic brilliance holds everyone spellbound. And Alcest’s ambient thrust works so much better live than on album.

Ian Anderson’s set of Jethro Tull classics not only brings a wash of nostalgia over everyone, but also has modern relevance. And the man himself is certainly the most charismatic musician over the two days on this stage.

Marillion, though, are in a class of their own. Everything about them screams quality. The staging, the pacing of the 90-minute set and the choice of material holds everyone in their thrall. And when they perform Sugar Mice, the whole place erupts. It’s a fitting climax – and for the first time today the rain stays away.

Gallery, from left: Alcest, Anathema, Anna Phoebe, Camel, Haken, Marillion, Riverside, Unto Us, Touchstone, The Pineapple Thief, Pendragon, Knifeworld, Messenger.

Classic Rock 214: Lives

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.