HRH Prog is now in its third year, and it’s second at Hafan-Y-Mor, the former Butlins holiday camp just outside Pwllheli in north Wales.
Pwllheli is a long way from anywhere, at the far end of a winding single-track railway line, and the train stops many, many times at little request stops where the train might only stop if you know how to pronounce the station. So by the time I finally got there after a whole day’s travelling I missed the opening band. But I did catch most of The Dream Circuit’s set, with a space-jam sound that owed a lot of Ozric Tentacles.
Knifeworld were the most eagerly anticipated band of the Thursday night. They opened with a brand new song which Kavus Torabi dedicated to his great friend, the late Daevid Allen of Gong. With his white and gold Gresch guitar, Torabi looks most un-prog, but with it’s Zappa-style horn orchestrations, psychedelic soundscapes and layered vocal harmonies the music is as progressive as it gets. There were one or two who didn’t ‘get’ what they do, implying they’re not “proper prog”, but it’s their loss. Knifeworld are the real thing.
Thursday headliners The Skys, hailing from Lithuania had a far more traditional prog sound, but were very good at what they did. They displayed some strong Floydian atmospherics at times, with a harder-rocking edge at others. They had a great keyboard sound with big washes of Hammond, and one guitar solo in particular was brain-melting.
Posted in Live Reviews
Tagged Anna Phoebe, Featured, HRH Prog, Jump, Knifeworld, Lifesigns, Magenta, Mostly Autumn, Rick Wakeman, Sanguine Hum, Steeleye Span, The Enid, The Skys, Touchstone
HRH Prog 3 have announced the first bands, including The Enid, Steeleye Span, Mostly Autumn, The Enid, The Reasoning and Touchstone.
Not totally convinced by the SF and fantasy actors as part of the event, and wonder what message that sends and what stereotypes it reinforces.
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.
Jane 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
Posted in Live Reviews
Tagged Credo, Crimson Sky, Featured, Fish, Focus, HRH Prog, Panic Room, Pineapple Thief, Purson, Sankara, Solstice, The Enid, The Flower Kings, The Physics House Band
So, despite the fact the festival was way out in the sticks, I booked up for HRH Prog 2 at Hafon Y Mor near Pwllheli in March. It’s a six-hour train journey, but being a rail enthusiast I always treat the journey as part of the holiday when going away.
Then disaster stuck. First, construction work on Pont Brewit near Penrhyndeudraeth damaged the bridge, with initial suggestions that the line would be closed for at least a year until the new bridge was complete, and rail replacement buses from Harlech.
Then the storms at the beginning of January damaged the line in multiple places, and from the extent of the damage to the sea wall it’s quite possible it will take several months to repair. Replacement buses are now in place from Machynlleth.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to find the timimgs of these replacement buses online. The National Rail Enquiries website shows trains running through to Penychain (the neareast stop to Hafan-y-Mor) with no mention of bus replacements by March. Ask it about the same journey for next week, and you get train to Harlech and bus from there (total journey time from Reading just over seven hours). Given that parts of the line will certainly be closed for at least a week, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that National Rail Enquiries is lying to me.
Alternative travel plans are not looking good either. The even organisers have arranged a shuttle bus to Bangor on Thursday and Sunday, but unfortunately weekend engineering work with multiple rail replacement buses turns any attempt to travel home via that route on Sunday into a nightmare. I’d advise the organisers of HRH Prog to schedule next year’s festival for Saturday and Sunday rather than Friday and Saturday to avoid a repetition.
And travelling the whole way by coach is a complete non-starter; National Express quotes an eleven-hour journey, and no gig is worth enduring eleven hours on board a coach.
At the moment the only advice I’m getting is “check your journey details closer to the time”, which isn’t really satisfactory.
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.
Should you wish to go to HRH Prog II Festival in the far end of Wales next March, it will indeed be an epic journey to get there. The journey from Reading to Pwllheli will take more than seven hours. And worse, five of those hours will be spent in one of these things.
It’s almost, but not quite the longest journey time wise you can make in a class 158. Liverpool-Norwich or Glasgow-Mallaig is slightly longer, but there are only minutes in it.
Last time I rode the Cambrian coast line it was back in the days when there were still loco-hauled workings on Summer Saturdays, and I remember a single class 37s struggling up the grade towards Talerddig summit with nine coaches, and reduced to walking pace by the time it reached the top of the bank. Those were the days.
After the sold-out HRH Prog Festival in Rotherham, it’s now announced that HRH Prog 2 will take place In Wales.
HRH Prog 2 will take place at Havan y Mor, Pwhelli, North Wales, on March 20-23 next year. And Chic Festivals boss Jonni Davis promises the change of site offers a better experience for prog fans.
It’s always a good thing for any organisation to learn from it’s mistakes, and in this case Version 2 seems to have fixed many of the bugs in the first festival. The organisers promise it won’t be freezing cold (One lead guitarist reported on Facebook that he couldn’t feel his fingers on stage!), and there will be more variety of food, not just pies. There is also just one main stage, meaning the festival won’t be bedevilled with the number of clashes that this year’s event suffered (Mostly Autumn vs. Also Eden, and Karnataka vs. Hawkwind were just two).
Just as significantly they’ve announced it almost a full year in advance, in relatively remote location. This means that it will be an epic journey to get there, although Snowdonia is rather more scenic than Rotherham. But it also means it’s not going to tread on the toes of other competing events, and should hopefully avoid the unfortunate situation with the collapse Y-Prog festival.