NEARfest 2006 Progressive Legends Showcase

Progressive Music Society (PMS) regular contributor Mike Montfort points out that NEARfest is an acronym for North East Art Rock and discussion of the progressive merit of the artists should be avoided. And I generally agree with this assessment, but I also have to admit that the lineup at NEARfest 2006 has made me significantly re-evaluate what I call prog. This leads to the recognition that there are many prog bands that I don't particularly like, but that doesn't make them any less progressive.

This all applies to the Legends Showcase, specifically the Tony Levin Band.

No question that Tony Levin is an amazing musician. He also surrounds himself with equally talented musicians, and sometimes the results are spectacular. It's interesting that Tony made a point of mentioning that he was returning to his progressive roots, but other than a few obligatory cover songs, this wasn't overly apparent in the music that they performed. That being said, it was a very enjoyable set which proves that the best way to enjoy music is in a live setting, even if the artist isn't one of your favorites. They seemed to be having a good time playing and that added to our enjoyment.

Hatfield and the North. It's always a tricky thing when you attend a performance by one of your favorite artists. The two proper Hatfield albums are some of the most complicated progressive rock ever composed and performed, yet are some of the most enjoyable melodic jazz rock pieces in the Canterbury catalog. How would this translate on stage, 30 years later ?

Quite well actually, but then again I admit to hearing with my heart more than my ears. I can see that someone not familiar with their material may not understand what all the fuss was about, but for a fan it was a sublime (to borrow a phrase from Luis Torregrosa) experience. They are progressive rock legends and to hear them perform this material was very special indeed.

New keyboard wizard Alex Maquire made us say "Dave (Stewart) who ?" on several occasions. He was as skilled in the subtle electric piano accompaniment as well as the all out keyboard atonal barrages. Richard Sinclair's voice was in fine form and his bass playing was solid. Pip Pyle is an ageless wonder counting out all of the odd time signatures with precision and little visible effort (arm flailing stick flicking drummers could learn lots from watching Pyle do his magic). Phil Miller's guitar lacked the power of the early 70s, but was a nice complement to the efforts of the others.

In the end it was a legendary performance and one of the highlights of the weekend of Progressive (errr Art) Rock in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Comments:

Wow Bob, thanks for the mention at the beginning of your blog. Really cool seeing you at NF, see you and maybe the family again next year. Mike http://www.mikemontfort.com

Posted by Mike Montfort on July 17, 2006 at 03:53 PM CDT #

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Bob Netherton is a Principal Sales Consultant for the North American Commercial Hardware group, specializing in Solaris, Virtualization and Engineered Systems. Bob is also a contributing author of Solaris 10 Virtualization Essentials.

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