Night Of The Prog Festival review - Germany

Eleven years and still going strong - Night Of The Prog returns to Loreley Amphitheatre

crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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Night of the Prog XI takes place in a spectacular 1930s-era amphitheatre. There are mellotrons and theremins, wizard-like keyboardists, saxophone-wielding drummers, harpists, veteran German bands largely unknown elsewhere, like Lucifer’s Friend. Among the bands to watch out for, there’s Lion Shepherd, who mix Indian raga with atmospherics and thick guitar; Seven Steps To The Green Door and their classic keyboard, odd-time and jazz-fusion mix; and Cuba’s Anima Mundi, with their prog metal edge, multi-instrumentalism.

French band Gens De La Lune inject drama and eclecticism with vocalist Jean Philippe Suzan’s extensive range. But anticipated German neo-proggers RPWL seem strangely low-key, apart from a rousing medley of 10-second snippets
of a truckload of prog and rock classics.

Focus perform spirited versions of House Of The Kings and other classics, including the inevitable Hocus Pocus, with Thijs van Leer’s flute flourishes and some crowd engagement via a bonkers scat and Hammond solo spot. Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy compete for the weekend’s ‘Most Audacious Undertaking’ award, performing the whole of Pictures At An Exhibition with just a drum kit, guitar and bass.

Hawkwind run through latest album The Machine Stops, interspersing the running order with choice classic cuts, like Arrival In Utopia and a punked-up version of 1972’s Lemmy-penned The Watcher.

Dismissing driven French-Canadians The Musical Box as a mere ‘tribute band’ does them a huge disservice. Eschewing the cutting-edge Loreley lighting rig, they erect a stage-within-a-stage with backline, instruments, costumes and lighting straight out of 1972, as they recreate Genesis’ Foxtrot tour with eerie authenticity.

The main set is the tracklisting of Genesis Live, with the addition of the two tracks left off that release – The Fountain Of Salmacis and the epic Supper’s Ready. Every sound and movement is exquisitely reproduced.

They return with a set of rarely aired tunes, including Harold The Barrel, plus the apparently never-played-live Time Table. A magical end to a rather special weekend.

Gary Mackenzie

Gary has contributed reviews and news features for Prog Magazine for over a decade now. A fan of prog and heavy rock since childhood, his main areas of interest are classic and symphonic prog, prog-metal and modern acts bringing in fresh influences to the genre. He has a professional background in youth and community work, he teaches drum kit in schools and is a working musician. Gary was the drummer in semi-legendary NWOBHM band Praying Mantis for a couple of years and has been a member of indie-prog-pop-art-rock combo The Mighty Handful for more than twenty years. He loves cats and skiing, and has a Blue Peter badge.