As my end-of-year album list ought to show, 2013 has been a great year for music in this little corner of the world.
My own year in live music started out with Blue Coupe in Banbury and ended with Mostly Autumn in Bilston. In between those were so many gigs I lost count somewhere mid year. It’s gone from Swallow playing covers in Reading pubs to Iron Maiden playing the O2 Academy. As usual, it all went bonkers towards the end of the year, with a mad half-week in November that saw four gigs in four days separated by a lot of miles, taking in Fish, Mr So and So & Also Eden, Marillion and Crimson Sky. Sometimes I think the prog world should be sponsored by Arriva Cross-Country Trains.
Writing for Trebuchet has seen me get press and photo passes for some high profile gigs, including UFO in Oxford and most significantly Steve Hackett’s sold-out show at Hammersmith Apollo, with Anne-Marie Helder as support. It’s also meant seeing a few things outside my normal comfort zone, including old-school blues rock and flamenco-flavoured alternative metal.
I passed on The Cambridge Rock Festival this year because I just couldn’t get excited about the bill, and sadly some prog-specific festivals collapsed due to lack of ticket sales. One of those was Y-Prog in Sheffield in March, which ended up leaving me seriously out-of-pocket due to non-refundable hotel reservations. Definitely not one of 2013′s personal high points.
So the two big events for me were The Marillion convention at Wolverhampton in April which saw one of my all-time favourite albums “Brave” played in it’s entirety, and Celebr8.2 in Kingston in May. The latter featured a whole slew of great bands I’ve never seen live before, including the mighty Threshold, and one of the year’s discoveries, the Spanish/Dutch band Harvest.
2013 has been a bit of an Annus Horribilis when it comes to band lineups, with many of the bands that feature regularly on this blog losing key members, or in the case of Stolen Earth, splitting up entirely. And there are a few acts who have been missing in action for much of 2013; hopefully we’ll see them all bounce back strongly in 2014 with new music and a revitalised live performances.
Sadly every year sees some goodbyes, something which happens more frequently as the heroes of your youth get older. This year we lost Blue Öyster Cult multi-instrumentalist Allen Lanier and Uriah Heep bassist Trevor Bolder.
What 2014 has in store is anyone’s guess, but I think there are plenty of good things in store. We’ve got new albums by Morpheus Rising and Panic Room to look forward to early in the new year, and Heidi Widdop’s new project Cloud Atlas is sounding very promising. Not forgetting Mostly Autumn and Karnataka, both of whom are also working on new albums.
There are bound to be some exciting new developments in the prog world,, but one of my personal musical resolutions for 2014 is to expand my horizons beyond prog, metal and classic rock and explore the world of contemporary jazz.