For one sunny day in May, The Assembly in sleepy Leamington Spa becomes the centre of the prog universe as Trinity Live delivers eight live acts to raise funds in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness, Cancer Research and Brain Tumour Research. In addition to the door money – all the artists played for free – there’s a raffle and an auction of memorabilia donated by some of prog’s biggest names. This year it raised almost £2,000, with a prize package from Steven Wilson topping the bids at £320, closely followed by items from Flying Colors at £300 and Rush at £251.
Alan Reed kicks things off with an acoustic set, joined by Touchstone’s Kim Seviour for a rendition of Twelfth Night’s Love Song. The Fierce And The Dead’s Matt Stevens, armed only with an acoustic six-string and a loop pedal, is in full guitar hero mode for a thrilling set showcasing material off his album Lucid. His ability to build from a simple melody to a roaring crescendo is a marvel of musical wizardry.
Magenta’s presence had been uncertain as frontwoman Christina Booth is undergoing cancer treatment, but their performance is simply magnificent. The Lizard King exemplifies their gift for marrying catchy hooks to prog chops, and Alan Reed joins in for a wonderful rendition of the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush duet Don’t Give Up – rehearsed earlier in the dressing room backstage. Then Heather Findlay indulges her folk tendencies, with help from Chris Johnson on guitar, tackling a selection of Mostly Autumn songs alongside her solo work.
Lost In Vegas are easily the heaviest act on the bill and are perhaps too metal for much of the audience. But making a triumphant return to live performance, The Reasoning have a blast, delivering a set packed with anthems, from Dark Angel through to the epic Adventures In Neverland and Aching Hunger. It’s no cliché to say that this band deserve bigger things.
However, not to be outdone, Touchstone take the ball, run with it and just keep going. Kim Seviour might be pixie-sized but she has a mighty big voice and a touch of Stevie Nicks’ theatrical flair. Their set includes prog monsters such as Misguided Fool and Spirit Of The Age, while Arena’s John Mitchell joins them for a pumped-up blast through Tears For Fears’ Mad World.
Topping the bill, Arena – fronted by Paul Manzi, with his swagger and enormous lungs – belt out neo-prog classics like A Crack In The Ice and The Butterfly Man, powered by John Mitchell’s fretboard gymnastics. The singalong Crying For Help VII is an inspired choice to bring the curtain down and send the prog faithful home happy, if hungry – why was there no food all day in the venue? Still, we’ll be back for more in 2015.