Tag Archives: Panic Room

Panic Room hit the road

Anne-Marie Helder at Reading South Street

Panic Room are back on the road again. The first two shows at Bath Komedia (below) and Reading South Street (above) were great shows, with much the same set as a Gloucester back in April. Next weekend of gigs include Liverpool, Bilston and The Borderline in London.

Panic Room at The Komedia, Bath

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Interview with Jon and Anne-Marie of Panic Room

Panic Room at HRH Prog 2

On the eve of the second leg of Panic Room’s UK tour I caught up with Jon and Anne-Marie to talk about the album “Incarnate” and the tour for Trebuchet Magazine. Here’s what they had to say. Continue reading

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Panic Room on tour again

Panic Room are on tour again in June, playing songs from their excellent new album Incarnate. The support for their show at London’s Borderline on June 14th will be the talented Matt Stevens.

The tour also includes shows in Bath, Reading, Liverpool, Bilston, Derby and Preston – full details on their tour page.

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Panic Room – Gloucester Guildhall

Panic Room at Gloucester Guildhall, April 2014

Panic Room came to Gloucester Guildhall on the penultimate date of the first leg of their spring tour, following on from the release of the well-received fourth album “Incarnate” and a successful appearance at the HRH Prog festival in Pwllheli back in March. With no support there was a long wait until they rolled the now-familiar intro tape of Luna Rossa’s “Gasp” and the band finally hit the stage an hour and a half after the doors opened.

The setlist was a very interesting mix of old and new. The new album “Incarnate” naturally features heavily, with no fewer than eight of the album’s ten songs in the set. They opened with the atmospheric “Into Temptation” lead into album’s rockiest number “Velocity”, then “Start the Sound” with Adam O’Sullivan’s volume control guitar work and some very imaginative drumming from Gavin Griffiths.

Panic Room at Gloucester Guildhall, April 2014

The middle part of the set the band ran through an eclectic mix of older numbers, with some established favourites alongside a few unexpected choices. The extended “Chameleon” with a jazzy solo from Adam O’Sullivan and a great flute solo from Anne-Marie was a particular highlight. Anne-Marie’s spirited take on “I Am A Cat” demonstrated how obviously she enjoyed singing that one live, and made its inclusion in the set more than welcome.

The closing part of the main set showcased more of the new album, including the soaring ballad “All That We Are”, ending with the massive brooding epic “Dust”. Unlike some acts, Panic Room have never been a band that rely on the same standards tour after tour, and the way they’re willing to mix things up keeps things fresh. The first two (of four!) encores bore this out, with two of the rockier numbers from “Skin” presented in the acoustic arrangements we’d heard at the Incarnate launch party back in February. They followed that with another couple of new numbers, with a very powerful version of Incarnate’s title track closing the evening.

Panic Room at Gloucester Guildhall, April 2014

This was a superb gig. Panic Room are now back up to the level they’d reached before Paul Davies left the band a year ago, and it’s great to see them firing on all cylinders again. It’s taken new guitarist Adam O’Sullivan a few gigs to find his feet, but he now fits the band perfectly; he more than does the older songs justice, and makes his mark on the new material with his more laid-back jazz-inflected style. The new material comes over very well live, if anything more strongly than on record.

The band return in June for the second leg which includes shows in Bath, Reading, Bilston, London and Preston, among others.

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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.

Continue reading

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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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Panic Room – Incarnate

IncarnatePanic Room had something of a troubled 2013. Several years hard work paid off with a growing reputation and audience for their powerful and sophisticated mix of rock, folk, jazz and metal. Then their year began with the departure of the lead guitarist, founder member Paul Davies. While Morpheus Rising’s Pete Harwood did a sterling job standing in on their already-booked tour, his commitments to his own band ruled out any longer-term involvement. So they initially announced that they’d be writing their fourth album as a four-piece. Then around the time the band were ready to enter the studio they announced the recruitment of Adam O’Sullivan, bringing the band back up to full strength.

In a rock band the lead guitarist can often be as important as the singer, so how would the new-look Panic Room sound?

Hard rocking opener “Velocity” with its spiralling guitar riff is close to the feel of their last album, but with the next few numbers a rather different sound emerges. It’s a step away from the rich wall of sound that characterised the last couple of Panic Room albums, with a lighter, more pared-back feel that has as much in common with Panic Room’s acoustic side-project Luna Rossa than it does with 2012′s “Skin”. In places there are echoes of the début “Visionary Position” and the singer-songwriter feel of Anne-Marie Helder’s 2006 solo record “The Contact”, and it’s notable that Anne-Marie has sole songwriting credit for half of the ten songs.

There are plenty of moments where the space in the mix gives individual members the chance to shine. There’s some inventive drumming from Gavin Griffiths, and some great understated Fender Rhodes from Jon Edwards across much of the album. Adam O’Sullivan’s guitar isn’t always prominent, though he does have his spotlight moments. Much of his playing has a strong jazz flavour, with some great bluesy rippling flourishes. A good example is on “Nothing New” where his guitar work duels with some equally jazzy piano runs from Jon Edwards. The one moment towards the end of the album where he cuts loose with a rock-style solo, it’s superb. Yet again Anne-Marie’s vocals are everything you’d expect from someone voted Best Female Singer by readers of Prog magazine, hitting the sweet spot between melody and expressiveness.

Much of the strongest material comes in the second half of the album. The atmospheric “Into Temptation” with its eastern-sounding vibe is reminiscent of parts of “Endgame” from the band’s début. The following three numbers “All The We Are”, “Searching”, and the soaring “Close The Door” all demonstrate Anne-Marie’s talents as a singer-songwriter.

The album closes with the dark and brooding “Dust”, an ambitiously progressive piece sounding like Massive Attack crossed with late-period Led Zeppelin, building on a repeated motif keeps going round and round in your head even after the album has finished playing.

At this stage in their career, Panic Room could easily have attempted a retread of the well-regarded “Skin”. But that would have been a mistake, and they should be applauded for not simply repeating a successful formula. It’s not quite perfect; the album might have benefited from one or two out-and-out rockers in the vein of Skin’s “Hiding the World” or Satellite’s “Dark Star” to add variety and raise the energy level. But it does feel like the beginning of a new chapter for the band. This is album by a band not afraid to try something slightly different, and there is much to like about it, especially after repeated listens. It’s still unmistakably Panic Room, but with their sophisticated sound it’s a record with a wider crossover potential too.

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Panic Room – Incarnate Promo

Panic Room have released a promo with teasers from the forthcoming album “Incarnate”, to be released on 10th March.

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Gigs of the Year – 2013 Edition

Panic Room at Sound Control in Manchester

I went to so many gigs in 2013 I ended up losing count; everything from local cover bands in pubs to rock monsters in enormodomes, and everything in between. There have been a few gigs outside my usual comfort zone, such as The Damned and The Orb; I even went to see Iron Maiden at the O2 Arena, a band I last saw in 1982.  I even went to see a Fleetwood Mac tribute band…

Picking a best-of list out of all those gigs is a hard one, but these six stand out as ones to remember for all the right reasons.

Marillion – UK Convention Saturday

Marillion’s fan conventions are always amazing experiences, with a hall full of hardcore fans and three sets with completely different setlists over the three nights. The end result is an electric atmosphere that few regular gigs can approach. All three nights in Wolverhampton were amazing experiences, but for me the best of the three was Saturday, with the dark, intense concept album “Brave” played in its entirety.

Fish – Islington O2 Academy

I got to see Fish four times this year, twice in his spring tour before the band went into the studio to record the album, and twice in the autumn on the tour to promote the album. All were great shows, with the big man on superb form, the London gig in May was a real standout.

Steve Hackett – Hammersmith Apollo

I wasn’t entirely convinced by Steve Hackett’s restatement of his Genesis legacy in the studio; the re-recorded versions seemed to add little to the much-loved favourites. But live it was a completely different experience; a triumphant and uplifting celebration of the magnificent music that deservedly won many standing ovations.  The Guardian completely missed the point.

Panic Room + Morpheus Rising – Manchester Sound Control

Panic Room have had a few ups and downs this year, forced to regroup following the departure of lead guitarist and founder member Paul Davies. Their tour in early summer featured Morpheus Rising’s Pete Harwood standing in guitar doing double duty with both the headliners and his own band. The tour ended with two superb shows in Bilston and Manchester demonstrating the band’s ability to triumph over adversity, with great support from Morpheus Rising, themselves premiering a lot of new material.

Mostly Autumn + Chantel McGregor, Islington O2 Academy

Mostly Autumn have been a bit hit-and-miss as live band during 2013, with fluctuating lineups from gig to gig due to various members’ other commitments. But the stars aligned when they came to London in Ocober. Chantel McGregor’s incendiary opening set gave the whole show the feel of a co-headliner, and Mostly Autumn’s barnstorming set had to be one of the best shows they’ve done in the past two or three years.

Steven Wilson, Royal Albert Hall

Steve Wilson came to London’s most prestigious major venue with his band including Theo Travis, Guthie Govan, Nick Beggs and Zappa alumnus Chad Wakerman, with the combined virtuosity you’d expect from a top-flight jazz ensemble rather than typical rock band. They proceed to delivere a mesmerising set drawn almost entirely from Steve Wilson’s three recent solo work, reinventing 70s Mellotron-drenched progressive rock to make it relevant to the 21st century. There are still people missing Porcupine Tree, but on the strength of shows like this, his new band are very good trade.

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Pre-Order for Panic Room’s “Incarnate”

Panic Room at Bilston Robin 2, July 2013

Panic Room are now taking pre-orders for their fourth album “Incarnate”, due for release in February 2014, via this link.

They are also excited to announce that they will be hosting an exalusive, limited 100-ticket-only Album Launch Party on 7th February 2014 at the grand hall of The Gate in Cardiff. This will sell out quickly!

Panic Room have also revealed the track listing of the new album:

Velocity
Start The Sound
Incarnate
Nothing New
The Waterfall
Into Temptation
All That We Are
Searching
Close The Door
Dust

Those of us who were able to get to their last two shows of 2013 will have heard five of those songs live; on a couple of listens these are sounding impressive.

Panic Room will also be touring in April and June to promote the album. There are still one or two dates still to be announced, but the dates so far include Gloucester, Bath and Reading.

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