Tag Archives: Cambridge Rock Festival

Cambridge Rock Festival takes a gap year

Chantel McGregor at the 2014 Festival

Announced today by The Cambridge Rock Festival.

To all CRF’s volunteers, crew and dedicated festival goers.

As I announced at CRF14 in my closing address CRF would be different in 2015 due to a major family wedding. My aim was to create a simpler event, possibly across earlier dates maybe even a different venue to allow us to run the festival without creating too much stress for the family by avoiding noise control issues we have been rather unreasonably hit with in earlier years.

My last few months have been spent working on plans for 2015 and negotiating with several possible venues. Sadly the outcome has not been as desired, so I have to announce that we will now be taking a gap year!

CRF will be running a variety of fundraiser events and small festivals throughout 2015/16 which I would ask you to support if you can, so that CRF16 can be set on firm foundations. A crowd funding project may also be forthcoming shortly to aid the fundraising project.

The committee met on Tuesday night and after much discussion we decided the next festival will be August 2016. I will publish dates and prices for 2016 tickets very shortly.

Please accept my apologies for not announcing this sooner but I had high hopes of bringing the CRF to you in 2015 right up to Tuesday afternoon this week but alas it was not to be. The CRF team would not wish to serve up anything less than a top notch event so we have decided to take a break and use the time to raise much needed funds.

Thank you all for your support, without your participation we would not be even considering running a festival again next year. I hope too see you at Springfest 15 in Haddenham or one of our other fundraisers and of course CRF16.

This will be disappointing to some, but isn’t totally unexpected, and is probably for the best. Even the biggest of all festivals, Glastonbury, has the occasionally gap year, and CRF should be back, better and stronger, in 2016.

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Best Gigs of 2014

Chantel McGregor at the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

Unlike almost everyone else, I didn’t get to see Kate Bush’s already legendary shows at Hammersmith in the summer. But I did get to see plenty of other bands, from festivals to free-entry pub gigs, so many in fact that I lost eventually lost count. I do remember nine in thirteen days in December, after which I collapsed in a heap.

These are ten of the best of the year, listed in chronological order save for the gig of the year. Several of them are from festivals, where I’ve highlighted individual sets rather than the festival as a whole.

The Pineapple Thief, HRH Prog, March

The first day of HRH Prog was somewhat patchy, with rather too many rather one-dimensional acts. The Pineapple Thief were the exception, with a magnificently intense set that stood head and shoulders above anyone else on Friday’s bill, including headliners The Flower Kings.

Riverside, O2 Academy, April

Poland’s finest proved they’re every bit as good live as they are on record, the perfect band for anyone still missing Porcupine Tree, but with enough of an identity of their own to sound like any kind of pastiche.

Panic Room, Gloucester Guildhall, April

2014 saw Panic Room back firing on all cylinders again after a somewhat shaky 2013, with the new lineup with then-new guitarist Adam O’Sullivan fully bedded it. They kicked off with an impressive performance at HRH Prog in March, and were on consistently good live form thereafter. It’s hard to single out any one show, but this early one in Gloucester was as good as any.

Magenta, Trinity Live, May

Magenta were only added to the bill of the all-day charity gig very late in the day when Christina’s cancer treatment was progressing well enough to allow her to perform. It’s always remarkable how good Magenta are live considering how infrequently they perform; but this time they completely stole the show. And they deserved it.

Jeff Lorber, Swansea Jazz Festival, June

Most of this years gigs have been prog and metal, so the Swansea Jazz Festival was a change of pace. Among others it featured the veteran trumpeter Dick Pierce, the violin-driven gypsy jazz of Sarah Smith, and the jazz-rock of Protect the Beat. But the highlight of the weekend was Friday night’s set of jazz-fusion from pianist Jeff Lorber. The world of prog contains plenty of virtuoso musicians, but jazz can be on another level.

Mostly Autumn, The Box in Crewe, July

Mostly Autumn have bounced back very strongly after a hit-and-miss 2013, touring to promote the best album they’ve made in years and for the first time playing the new album in full on tour. Despite a fluctuating lineup in the early part of the year due some members’ prior commitments, which saw former flautist Angela Gordon standing in for a couple of gigs, they were back to the sort of live form they displayed in 2011 and 2012. An early highlight was their long-overdue return to Crewe in July.

Mr So and So, Resonance, August

Resonance was a strange festival, with an eclectic mix of bands playing across multiple stages, including a small room tucked away at up at the top of the building. One of the bands in that small room, Mr So and So, were an unexpected highlight, a band who have improved immensely over the past couple of years, with Charlotte Evans coming into her own as a singer.

Chantel McGregor, Cambridge Rock Festival, August

The Cambridge Rock Festival was another highlight of the year, with strong sets from Mostly Autumn, Mr So and So, The Windmill, Cloud Atlas and others. One of the highlights was the guitar-shredding set on Friday from Chantel McGregor, who simply owns the main stage at that festival.

Fish, Reading Sub89, December

Fish had planned to tour the UK in May but was forced to cancel due to Guitarist Robin Boult’s injury. The rescheduled shows in December looked in doubt at one point when the man himself went down with viral laryngitis on the continental leg. But in the end all was fine, and the band were on fire, with a completely new setlist compared to last year, with old favourites like “Big Wedge” and “Incubus” as well as the powerful High Wood suite from his newest album played in full.

It’s hard to narrow things down to just ten, so honourable mentions to Touchstone and IOEarth’s Christmas show in Bilston, The Tangent’s mesmerising performance at Celebr8.3 in Islington, Tarja rocking out the O2 Academy, Steve Rothery at Bush Hall, Opeth’s oldies-heavy set at The Roundhouse, and Alestorm’s booze and piracy in Reading.

It’s even harder to pick the best of the lot, but there can only be one, and this came towards the end of the year.

Marillion, The Forum, December

Even after more than 30 years in the business, Marillion never disappoint live, and their sell-out December Christmas shows were no exception. What was surprising was the number of real oldies they haven’t played for years; “SlĂ inte Mhath”, “Warm Wet Circles/This Time of the Night” and even “Garden Party” from the Fish era, and several song from “Seasons End” including the magnificent title track. It gave the impression of a band comfortable in their own skins and reconciled with their own past in a way they weren’t a few years back.

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Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 – Part Two

Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn at the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

For those who’s tastes run towards progressive rock and metal, Sunday was always going to be the day to be looked forward to the most. Continue reading

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Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 – Part One

Chantel McGregor at the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

The Cambridge Rock Festival is a four-day event on the first weekend of August, with a focus on blues, classic rock and progressive rock. 2014 is the festival’s eleventh year, and the sixth to be held at the current location just outside the city. Continue reading

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Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 News

Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 poster

Bands announced so far for the main stage on the Cambridge Rock Festival 2014. Not yet on the poster is one major addition:

CRF is pleased to announce Leon Hendrix & his band are attending CRF14 on Saturday 9th August.

Leon and his band will play many of Jimi Hendrix’s classics, plus some of his own material.

A new intimate meet and greet area is being set up specially for this as Leon wants to meet and chat to as many CRFers as possible during the day and then perform with his band on mainstage. This will present all of us with an amazing opportunity to get a unique insight into ‘the man’ and the brothers relationship.

While the bill is more varied than last year, there’s still a strong blues-rock emphasis on Friday and Saturday, though there is a very impressive lineup of progressive rock on Sunday.

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Cambridge Rock Festival 2014 announcements

Cambridge Rock Festival 2014

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Cloud Atlas confirmed for 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival

The recently-formed York-based progressive rock band have announced on Twitter than they are confirmed for the 2014 Cambridge Rock Festival, joining blues-rock guitarist Larry Miller in the acts announced to date.

The 2012 festival marked the debut of Stolen Earth, Heidi Widdop’s previous band, and the year before was her first gig fronting Breathing Space, the final lineup of which morphed into Stolen Earth a few months later.

Cloud Atlas are currently in the studio working on their debut album, for which they are still taking pre-orders.

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Prog Magazine Poll – The Worst of 2013

I haven’t seen the full results of the Prog Magazine readers’ poll, but the scan on HeKz’ Facebook page (in which they made the top ten tips for 2014), also includes the Best and Worst Prog Events of 2013

The Worst list make very interesting reading.

I can’t disagree with #1. High Voltage 2011 and 2012 were great festivals which put the best the scene has to offer with a great mix of old and new in front of big audiences. So the cancellation of HV2013 as a consequence of sponsor HMV going into administration was a great disappointment. No word yet on whether or not there will be a High Voltage in 2014, though if there was going to be one I would have expected some sort of announcement by now.

As for #2, HRH Prog being both 2nd Worst Event and 7th Best Event does imply that it has divided people’s opinions. I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the venue from friends who were, both fans and artists, citing the fact that it was absolutely bloody freezing. HRH Prog 2 this March moves to an altogether different venue in a completely different part of the country. I’m looking forward to this one a lot, even though it’s going to take a very long train journey and a rail replacement bus to get there.

The Cambridge Rock Festival at #3 does come as a surprise. I know I wasn’t the only person who thought the bill was very disappointing from a prog perspective, with no more than a token presence on the main stage compared with previous years. But though I didn’t go myself, everyone I’ve spoken to who was there told me they had an enjoyable time. So voting it worst even of the year does seem a little harsh. My guess is most of those negative votes came from people who didn’t actually attend. But I do think the organisers need to recognise they didn’t get the balance quite right last year. They have yet to announce the 2014 bill, and I for one am waiting for that announcement with great interest.

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CRF 2013 – Really not for me this year

Panic Room at the 2012 Cambridge Rock FestivalPanic Room at the 2012 Festival

I’ve decided that I’m probably going to give The Cambridge Rock Festival a miss this year.

It’s not that bands who had been highlights of previous years, such as Stolen Earth and Panic Room are missing, it’s not the absence of any big-name headliners, it’s just that the retro blues-rock and rather dated old-school metal that dominates this year’s bill really isn’t for me.

It might be that we prog fans were spoiled the last couple of years, but the genre is reduced to a token this year. It’s only really Mostly Autumn who fly the “new generation prog” flag on the main stage, and I will see them plenty of other times this year.

I have no idea whether the bill reflects an intentional change in direction, perhaps in response to feedback that there was too much prog last year. I’m hoping this isn’t the case, and 2014 will see a return to the sort of diverse, prog-friendly bills we saw in 2011 and 2012. Certainly there are plenty of great prog bands out there who aren’t CRF regulars. The recent Celebr8.2 festival in Kingston (which I never had the time to review properly) was filled with bands that would fit the Cambridge bill perfectly; I would name Alan Reed, Harvest, Threshold and Arena as bands with precisely the sort of crossover potential that would go down well with the CRF audience, and none of them have played the festival before.

With a few bands like that on the bill, I’ll certainly be back. And if you’re not really into prog but love old-fashioned metal and blues-rock, CRF 2013 should still be a great festival, with a great vibe and good beer.

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The Cambridge Rock Festival have now announced the lineup for Stage 2 on Friday, sponsored by the Classic Rock Society. Headliners are Landmarq, with a bill also featuring Voodoo Vegas, Abel Ganz, Primitive Instinct, Red Jasper, The Treat, The Room, and Habu.

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