Tag Archives: Dave Foster

Best Albums of 2016 – Part One

It’s that time of year again, when music bloggers go through the year’s releases and highlight the best of the year. The usual caveats apply; these are the best records of 2016 I’ve actually had the chance to hear. I only have a finite CD budget, and even though I’m a part-time music writer, not every record company sends me free promos.

We’ll start with 25 to 11. Except that they’re not ranked in any order, because that would be next to impossible.

Update Because I missed out one record by mistake, this year’s list now goes up to 26. You will have to guess which one it was yourselves.

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Panic Room Weekend, Day Two

Anne-Marie Helder

After the excitement of the first day of the Panic Room convention, everybody was back for more at the next day. with perhaps a few more people who had one-day tickets for the Sunday to swell the crowd. There seemed significantly more people that there had been the day before.

Sunday began, as had Saturday, with an acoustic solo performance, this time from harper and folk singer Sarah Dean. She played a beautiful set combining original numbers and traditional standards, interspersed with some entertaining song introductions.

Luna Rossa were eagerly awaited. They’re Panic Room’s acoustic alter-ego, the core songwriting duo of Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards with a different supporting cast. The music clearly comes from the same place, but the stripped-down intimacy of the presentation is quite different from Panic Room’s widescreen rock, and showcases Anne-Marie’s remarkable vocals all the more. On their brief tour in December they were accompanied by Sarah Dean on harp and Andy Coughlan on bass, but for this gig Yatim Halimi stood in on bass, and Dave Foster also joined them for a few numbers on guitar. Even though it was four-fifths Panic Room in terms of personnel, the vibe was totally different, with songs drawn from the two Luna Rossa albums plus an emotive cover of Abba’s “Winner Takes All”. Dave Foster added some tasteful blues guitar to enhance songs like “Dark Room”. It was stunningly beautiful set.

That performance would have been hard for anyone else to follow, so it was probably a good thing that there followed an extended break in the music. What we did have was a Q and A session with the band, hosted by compère Dave Ormston. Questions included things like “If you had to throw away all albums bar one, which one would you keep”. Jon’s answer to that one was “Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert”.

Dave Foster on twin-neck guitar. There's Prog

Then it was back to the music. The Dave Foster band was another to feature more than half of Panic Room on the stage, with Yatim again on bass and Jon on keys, though with Ninet Poortman on vocals and Leon Parr on drums they had a quite different sound. Sharing the groove-orientated rhythm section with The Steve Rothery Band gave them a similar feel to that band, and Ninet Poortman impressed as a singer, Most of the set came from Dave Foster’s excellent album “Dreamless”, with “Paradox” from Dave’s earlier album “Gravity”. Anne-Marie joined them on “Brahma”, one of the high spots of the set, before Ninet returned to finish with a powerful “Black Sunrise”.

The supergroup Kiama are an interesting band. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of good musical ideas, but on record they didn’t quite manage to transcend the sum of the parts. Expanded to a six-piece with Magenta’s Dan Nelson on bass and a female backing singer they were a lot more impressive live. They went from Zeppelinesque hard rock to atmospheric balladry recalling latter-day Marillion. Dylan Thompson more than proved he’s got what it takes to front a band, including Rock God looks and some very heart-on-sleeve lyrics. Luke Machin is a phenomenal guitarist reeling off some jaw-dropping solos. They’re not quite the hard rock band they initially promoted themselves as, though the best moments were still the points where they did rock out, like opener “Cold Black Heard”. This may be another band from whom the best is yet to come.

Dylan Thompson fronting Kiama

And finally came Panic Room. The first night had felt like a greatest hits show, but a second set with just as many great songs showed just how strong a songbook Panic Room have built up after just four albums. Kicking off with the electric version of “Song for Tomorrow”, the set included a superb taken on “Picking up Knives” with some splendid electric piano, “Tightrope Walker”, the always bonkers “I am a Cat”, “Promises”, the spine-tingling set closer “Dust” and an anthemic “Satellite” as an encore. The band were absolutely on fire from beginning to end, and the atmosphere electric. It wasn’t the tightest Panic Room set of all time, but there was an exuberance about the whole thing that was amazing to be part of. This is what live music is all about.

The whole weekend was a wonderful experience, and there is already talk of a repeat event next year. It showcased a host of bands and side-projects that deserve wider exposure, topped with two spectacular sets from the band themselves. It was also a great gathering of the band’s most dedicated fans from around the country, with plenty of times between bands to catch up with old friends. It was also good to see Marillion’s Steve Rothery in the audience too. Panic Room as a support for next year’s Marillion convention, Rothers? You know you want to!

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Support Bands Announced for the Panic Room Convention

Panic Room have announced rwo of the support bands for the Panic Room Convention at Bilston Robin 2 on May 21 and 22, joining Panic Room’s acoustic side-project Luna Rossa on the bill.

First, Panic Room guitarist Dave Foster with his own band, including drummer Leon Parr and vocalist Dinet Poortma, along with one or two members of Panic Room, playing material from his two solo albums “Gravity” and the forthcoming “Dreamless”.

And on the Sunday Night, Halo Blind, the project from singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Johnson, featuring Panic Room’s Gavin Griffiths on drums. Although she wasn’t on their most recent album “Occupying Forces”, Anne-Marie Helder was a member of an earlier version of the band, and it would not be a surprise for her to join them on stage.

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Dave Foster launches Kickstarter for 2nd Solo Album

Dave Foster, guitarist for Panic Room, Mr So and So & The Steve Rothery Band has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his second solo album, to be titled “Dreamless”.

His first solo album, 2012′s “Gravity” was excellent, largely instumental but also featuring a wonderful guest vocal contribution from Dinet Poortman. The new album is likewise going to be a mix of vocal and instrumental tracks, and Dave Foster is promising ‘an array of guest musicians’, the identities of whom are yet to be announced.

If you like the sound of that, go and pledge now!

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Dave Foster joins Panic Room

Dave Foster

Announcement nn Panic Room’s Facebook page:

PANIC ROOM are delighted to announce that for 2015 we will be working with lead guitarist, Dave Foster (Steve Rothery Band / Mr So&So) – a hugely talented musician who will be playing with the band for all of this year’s Live Tour dates, as well as joining us in the recording studio.

PANIC ROOM will be on tour in April-May 2015, and we are preparing to unveil a powerful live show which will celebrate the finest and most-loved music from across all 4 of the band’s Award-Winning albums. Each event will feature a full electric set plus an exclusive acoustic set, and we are very excited to welcome Dave aboard for these shows!

He will also be part of the recording line-up for PANIC ROOM’s 5th studio album, which we plan to begin later this year.

Having seen Dave Foster in action many times with Mr So and So, as wel as with Steve Rothery’s band, and even standing in with The Reasoning, Dve Foster’s style is an excellent fit for Panic Room’s music.

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