Tag Archives: Crimson Sky

HRH Prog in Pictures – Saturday

September Code at HRH Prog

The consequence of having a photo pass for a three-day rock festival is you end up taking an awful lot of photos; indeed I took over 900 on the Saturday. I’ve used a few to illustrate my review, and here are a few more, all from Saturday. Here’s Dim Koskinas of September Code, the opening band of the day.

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HRH Prog 2

Crimson Sky's Jane Setter at HRH ProgJane Setter of Crimson Sky

HRH Prog 2 is a residential rock festival held in this year the former Butlins holiday camp at Hafan-Y-Mor just outside Pwllheli in north Wales, following on from the successful first festival held in Rotherham a year ago.

It’s certainly a long way from anywhere, at the end of miles and miles of single-carriageway roads winding through the Welsh hills, or an equally winding single-track railway line, and it certainly wasn’t the organisers’ fault that part of the train journey was by replacement bus because the tracks had been washed away in a storm. There were complaints from some quarters that it was an inconvenient location. But it was an equal opportunity inconvenience; it takes just as long wherever you’re coming from. Continue reading

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Crimson Sky return to Reading

Crimson Sky at The Fleece and Firkin, Bristol

As they say on their Facebook page, Crimson Sky return to Reading on Saturday, 9th November.

Bristol and Reading five-piece progressive rock combo Crimson Sky return to South Street for a third time with new material … and a new drummer! Come on down and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Plus very special guests: Rich & Si from Also Eden performing as “Neo Deals” and MC Steven C. Davis.

This should be a great night; the band have been working on new material this year, and this show will be the first opportunity for audiences to hear some of it.

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Crimson Sky & Red Jasper, The Fleece, Bristol

Crimson Sky at The Fleece and Firkin, Bristol

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.

Red Jasper at The Fleece and Firkin, Bristol

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.

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Red Sky At Night

Recently re-formed Folk-proggers Red Jasper and the always excellent Crimson Sky play a co-headliner at The Fleece and Firkin at Bristol this coming Thursday, June 27th.  Opening act will be Neo Deals, who are Also Eden’s Rich Harding and Simon Rogers playing as an acoustic duo.

The whole thing promises to be a progtastic evening. The show will also be Crimson Sky’s first gig with their new drummer, Adrian Ogden.

Full details from The Fleece‘s website.

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Crimson Sky + The Mighty Bard, The Railway, Winchester

Crimson Sky have returned to the live stage with a couple of co-headline gigs with The Mighty Bard, each band playing an hour-long set. The first of these was at The Old Firestation in Windsor, and a week later the two bands came to The Railway in Winchester.

The Mighty Bard at The Railway in Winchester

The Mighty Bard were on first. The six-piece could be described as “Morrissey covering Grendel” although to be fair they’re a lot more than that. Certainly some of the arrangements, especially the keyboard sounds and ornate soloing strongly recalled very early Marillion. There was a slight folk-rock edge at times, although 80s neo-prog was by the strongest flavour. They certainly had their moments, but there were other times when I wasn’t completely convinced. They were at their best when the material fitted the singer’s vocal style rather than pulling in a different direction. The electric violin added an extra dimension; too many of today’s prog bands don’t stray enough from the standard keys and guitars frontline, but I felt it was a little underused. Still an enjoyable set, despite a few areas that need work.

Crimson Sky at The Railway, Winchester

Crimson Sky are on an upward trajectory at the moment. The new lineup with Jane Setter on lead vocals and Moray McDonald on keys is started to gel nicely, and the new members are making more and more of a stamp on their sound. They’ve still got that 70s classic rock meets 80s new-wave sound, where you hear influences as diverse as Uriah Heep and The Teardrop Explodes. To my ears they still fall under the broad umbrella of progressive rock, but they avoid all of the worst prog clichés. Like most good bands, you can hear influences, but their sound is their own.

Crimson Sky at The Railway, Winchester

Jane Setter has now established herself as frontwoman, and has taken the older songs and made them hers. The setlist naturally includes the two new songs from last years’s EP “Dawn”, though the rest of the set comes from 2009′s “Misunderstood”. While they’ve got some great songs, especially the closing “Misunderstood III”, the band have now reached the stage where they could do with some new material in the live set.

Crimson Sky at The Railway, Winchester

While Martin Leamon’s superb fluid guitar playing still dominates, Moray McDonald’s often understated keyboard playing fills out the sound, and has gradually become more of an integral part of the band. He plays some great classical-style piano fills, some of his Hammond organ riffs recall Uriah Heep’s Ken Hensley, and there’s a hint of Marillion’s Mark Kelly too.

Crimson Sky have matured into a strong live band who deserve a wider audience, and I hope the new album the band are currently writing will take them to the next level.

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Crimson Sky live dates!

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Crimson Sky, the Bristol-based band I’ve previously described as sounding like a mix of 70s progressive rock with a dash of 80s new-wave have a couple of gigs coming up.

The first is at The Old Firestation in Windsor (Known in the dim and distant past as The Windsor Arts Centre), on Friday 8th Feb, and the second is the following weekend at The Railway in Winchester on Saturday 16th Feb. The support for both shows will be The Mighty Bard.

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If you can get to either of these shows, I recommend that you do. They’re an excellent live band, as everyone who was at last year’s launch gig in Reading will tell you.

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Crimson Sky, Sea Mills

 Jane Setter of Crimson Sky at Sea Mills, Bristol

Some photos from a few months back, Crimson Sky playing their home town of Bristol back in May 2012. The gig was a double headliner with Winter in Eden, held in the Sea Mills community centre after the original pub venue went out of business. It was a stroke of luck that an alternative if unconventional venue was available at short notice.

I was an assistant roadie for the band for that gig, and one of the reasons I never reviewed it at the time was because I was focussing on helping load out afterwards I found I couldn’t remember enough to be able to write a coherent review. One thing I do remember, though, was how cold the venue was. At one point I had trouble operating the camera because my hands were frozen.

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2012 – A few more records of note

I decided to restrict my best-of-2012 list to full-length studio albums of new material with a 2012 retail release date. But there are a few great records that fall outside that definition, and would be difficult to place in any kind of ranking. But they’re all too good not to give a mention, so here they are.

The Heather Findlay BandSongs From The Old Kitchen

A delightful album of acoustic reworkings of Heather’s songs from Mostly Autumn, Odin Dragonfly and more recent solo work, with the band featuring the now-departed Dave Kilminster and Steve Vantsis. The organic chilled-out arrangements are a very good match for the natural warmth of her voice, making this perhaps the best record she’s made since going solo.

KarnatakaNew Light, Live in Concert

Live album (also an excellent DVD) capturing the band on their first tour with new vocalist Hayley Griffiths, fronting the short-lived six-piece lineup with multi-instrumentalist Colin Mold, whose violin playing enhanced the Celtic side of their music. Aside from Hayley’s imaginative re-interpretation of old favourites, this record is also a showcase for Enrico Pinna’s phenomenal guitar playing.

Crimson Sky - DawnCrimson SkyDawn

Excellent four-track EP from the new lineup of Crimson Sky with Jane Setter and Moray McDonald, with two brand new songs and two reworked older numbers. As with their previous work, it’s an intriguing blend of progressive rock and 80s-style new-wave, and benefits from a far more polished production than earlier recordings.

Twelfth Night Live and Let Live - Album CoverTwelfth NightLive and Let Live

The classic and long out-of-print single LP-length album from the seminal 80s neo-proggers, reissued and expanded into a two-hour double-CD capturing the entire two-hour show, which must have been a painstaking labour-of-love to put together.

Rob CottinghamCaptain Blue

One of those records where the pre-orders shipped in December, although the retail release isn’t until the new year There will be a full review of this forthcoming, but let’s just say this is a good one. Will it make the 2013 end-of-year list? Time will tell on that…

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Crimson Sky – Dawn

Crimson Sky - DawnBristol-based rock band Crimson Sky established a reputation with the 2009′s album “Misunderstood” and some well-received gigs including a strong performance at the 2010 Cambridge Rock Festival. Unfortunately that lineup of the band imploded soon after, and for a while the continued existence of the band was in doubt.

After a lengthy hiatus the band regrouped earlier this year with a brand new lineup featuring Jane Setter on vocals and Moray McDonald on keys. Following some successful gigs that proved the new-look band had what it takes, the band went into the studio to record a four-track EP; two brand new songs, and two reworkings of songs from “Misunderstood”.

The EP opens with an atmospheric keyboard drone accompanied by bells, which leads into the eastern-flavoured guitar figure that forms the intro to “Crimson Sky”, the first of two new numbers. By the time the full band kick in one thing that’s very apparent is the quality of the production; the sound is both polished and powerful. This is prog-rock with the emphasis on Rock.

Next comes the re-recording of lengthy ballad “The Sea”, featuring an extended guitar workout. The second new number “The Park” has the feel of slightly punky Uriah Heep with it’s organ riff and energetic vocal. The EP closes with “After the Rain” with something of an indie vibe with it’s jangling guitar, at least until we get to the solo.

Changing a vocalist always has a big impact on a band’s sound. In Crimson Sky’s case, Jane Setter neither copies the previous singer’s style nor completely changes the sound of the band. She’s got greater range, but although her background is more ‘classic rock’ there’s still a touch of 80s new-wave about her vocal style. She makes her mark on the old songs without radically reinterpreting them, and then goes on to show just what she can do on the new ones.

The dominant instrumental sound is still Martin Leamon’s fluid lead guitar. There are moments, especially on “The Sea” that remind me of Twelfth Night’s Andy Revell. The other thing that strongly impresses is Moray McDonald’s keyboard playing. Much is his playing is understated, adding colour rather than playing lead, but he shines on “The Park” with that great organ riff and some lovely piano later in the song. There’s more than a touch of Marillion’s Mark Kelly about his playing, especially his solo on “Crimson Sky”.

The end result is an impressive progressive rock record that manages to avoid most of the obvious clichés of the genre. Let’s hope it isn’t too long before the band follow it up with a full-length album.

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