Red Sky at Night was the second of two double bills featuring the Bristol-based bands Crimson Sky and Red Jasper, a home town gig at the Fleece and Firkin in the centre of Bristol.
Opening act was Neodeals, who are Also Eden’s Rich Harding and Simon Rogers playing as a acoustic duo. Their half-hour set consisted of Also Eden material drawn from “Think of the Children” including the magnificent title track, and from the forthcoming “[Redacted]“. The songs came across remarkably well in acoustic form, with two interlocking guitars making a remarkably rich sound. As well as a strong vocalist, it’s often the guitar playing that makes the difference between a memorable acoustic act and a forgettable one, and Neodeals were memorable for all the right reasons.
Crimson Sky put in another enthusiastic and energetic performance with their mix of classic rock, prog and a touch of 80s new-wave. With a shorter than usual set they drew heavily from the EP “Dawn” with a few favourites from their 2009 album “Misunderstood”. This was the first gig with Adrian Ogden occupying the drum-stool on a permanent basis, and he acquitted himself superbly. This is likely to be Crimson Sky’s last live appearance for a while, as they concentrate on writing and arranging new material, and will be very interesting to see what they come up with.
When I last saw Red Jasper many years ago they had a folk-rock feel, reminiscent of Jethro Tull. Now, with a much changed lineup with former drummer David Clifford now fronting the band, there was little of the folk flavour in evidence, with the six-piece band taking on a more of a 80s pop-prog flavour. It may be my lack of familiarity with their material, but they didn’t make quite as strong an impression as the other two bands, with a lot of the songs sounding rather similar. But they still had their moments, played with a lot of energy, and there was some great guitar work from founder member Robin Harrison.
This sort of gig, with a bill of two electric bands plus an acoustic opener represents an increasing common format in the progressive rock world. While some fans prefer to see their heroes play longer sets as sole headliners, double or triple bills attract bigger crowds, and expose the bands to each others’ audiences, which can only be a good thing. I last saw Red Jasper many years ago at a very poorly attended show in Windsor, where the support band outnumbered the paying punters. Twenty years later, while by no means full, The Fleece did attract a decent-enough crowd for a Thursday night.