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(Image: © Monica Duffels)

Progdreams VI Festival - live review

Karnataka, Lonely Robot and Frost* join in the fun at the annual Dutch festival

The host for this sixth edition of Progdreams festival is John Young. His band Lifesigns were due to perform, but sadly had to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, being replaced on the bill by Tiger Moth Tales.

Karnataka are the first band to play, and it’s a strong start. The enthusiasm and energy of the band members has a visible effect on the audience, creating a wonderfully positive atmosphere as they cast out their symphonic and progressive rock with folk influences. Barock Project also have a flashy start, filled with spectacular keyboard solos. Their mix of classical meets prog is outstanding.

Huis have a more modest approach. Their atmospheric and serene rock is usually a treat for the ears, but somehow their performance at Progdreams lacks conviction and strength. Frost*, though, prove that they are more than worthy to headline the first night of a festival. The musical talent of drummer Craig Blundell and bassist Nathan King, together with the humour of frontman Jem Godfrey and guitarist John Mitchell, make up the perfect combination for a live performance. The uptempo prog songs are executed at a rapid pace, yet the band members still have plenty of time to entertain the crowd with jokes. The audience love what Frost* are doing, and the guys onstage are also having enormous fun.

Day two of Progdreams kicks off with TILT. Led by bassist Steve Vantsis, they include members from Fish’s backing band in their ranks, and their accessible brand of prog pop gets high appreciation from the audience: overall, they sound very promising.

Tiger Moth Tales are the big surprise. Blind since childhood, Peter Jones delivers superb musical moments of high quality. Jones is a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing keys, guitar and sax, as well as singing. His charismatic stage presence and thoughtful lyrics further strengthen the performance, while Luca Zabbini of Barock Project briefly joins on keyboard.

Antimatter are a treat for the fans who like heavier music, with their melancholy yet beautifully melodic heavy prog rock. Their performance is solid, albeit spoilt a little by flaws due to technical difficulties. The last act to play are Lonely Robot, John Mitchell’s space-themed latest project, and this time he’s joined by Steve Vantsis and Craig Blundell. They play vigorously and convincingly, and include two tracks from new second album The Big Dream. The band end the show with an emotional tribute to John Wetton as they play Battle Lines, followed by a phenomenal drum solo from Blundell.

The versatility of the bands on Progdreams’ bill has become the festival’s speciality, covering various styles of music from right across the progressive spectrum. All the bands get enough time onstage, even though several played later than scheduled due to longer sound checks and minor technical problems. A recommended festival in a great venue!