Prog Awards _______

It’s that time of the year again: when the great and good of the pro­gres­sive mu­sic scene don their fin­ery and come to­gether to cel­e­brate the mu­sic we all love, back in Shake­speare’s lav­ish Un­der globe. Here’s how it all went down…

Prog - - Contents - Our Ban­quo At The Ban­quet: Mal­colm Dome Images: Will Ire­land

The win­ners. The sto­ries. The gos­sip. It’s prog’s big­gest night of the year!

Sir Lenny Henry. Let’s just re­peat that. Sir. Lenny. Henry. At the Pro­gres­sive Mu­sic Awards. And no, this wasn’t just a gra­tu­itous in­vi­ta­tion sent to the great co­me­dian in or­der to get cheap pub­lic­ity. He’s there with King Crim­son’s Jakko Jak­szyk. And what’s more, Sir Lenny em­braces the oc­ca­sion with real vigour.

He’s very keen on the im­pres­sive Roger

Dean ex­hi­bi­tion put to­gether for the night by Trad­ing Boundaries, and even makes a point of telling John Miles, re­cip­i­ent of the Out­stand­ing Mu­si­cal Achieve­ment award, how much he loved one of Miles’ shows back in 1975! There’s no doubt Sir Lenny is charmed by the con­vivial at­mos­phere. But then, that’s what makes the Pro­gres­sive Mu­sic Awards spe­cial.

“Ev­ery­where I look in the room, it’s full of friends or blasts from the past,” says Mike Port­noy, a sen­ti­ment echoed by his Sons Of Apollo band­mate Derek Sherinian.

“This is my first time here,” Sherinian says. “It’s amaz­ing. Just see­ing so many leg­ends, and they’re all ap­proach­able. It’s like a big fam­ily.”

Prog ed­i­tor Jerry Ewing em­pha­sises the spe­cial at­mos­phere here in his in­tro­duc­tory speech, re­flect­ing on the re­mark­ably pos­i­tive vibe. He also reads out part of a lengthy let­ter from the ab­sent Rick Wake­man. This is the first Pro­gres­sive Mu­sic Awards that Wake­man has missed, as he’s cur­rently on tour with Yes fea­tur­ing ARW, and he’s clearly very dis­ap­pointed not to be here. Mind you, most of his mis­sive is ap­par­ently, erm, too in­ap­pro­pri­ate, as only Wake­man can be!

Prior to the awards them­selves, the Beatrix Play­ers per­form two songs. One is their new sin­gle All That Think­ing, and they also play a highly stylised ver­sion of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, which se­duces ev­ery­one with its tex­ture and grace. The band also pick up the open­ing award of the night, Lime­light, which proves to be a very pop­u­lar choice.

Ev­ery­one is then left stunned by host Matthew Wright’s choice of at­tire as he takes to the stage. As Mar­il­lion’s Steve Hog­a­rth later re­marks: “It looks like some­thing I scraped off the roof this morn­ing!”

This is Wright’s fourth year as host, and he has never looked more in tune with the oc­ca­sion. Short of don­ning a cape, he couldn’t have looked more elab­o­rate in his pat­terned vel­vet suit. “This suit screams prog!” Wright ex­claims as he gets into the groove.

The afore­men­tioned Jak­szyk makes the first of two ap­pear­ances on­stage, pick­ing up the Video Of The Year Award on be­half of King Crim­son for He­roes. But he has a lit­tle sur­prise up his sleeve, or rather in his jacket: he pulls out a let­ter, which has a short mes­sage from none other than Robert Fripp: “King Crim­son were cre­ated for the video age. And now the pub­lic has fi­nally ac­knowl­edged this.”

Well, it’s bet­ter than just say­ing, “Thanks!” The ac­claimed fes­ti­val Be Prog! My Friend wins the award for Event Of The Year, while Steve Hillage picks up the Reis­sue Of The

“No­body ever says it, but Carl, thank you!”

Danny Baker

Year award for Search­ing For The Spark, and Anath­ema’s Vin­nie Cavanagh is de­lighted to be sit­ting next to Hillage tonight.

“I got to tell him I was one of his pot­head pix­ies when I was 17 years old and work­ing in a record shop. I’m not sure how pleased he was to hear that, but it was great for me to meet some­one who meant so much when I was younger, and helped get me into this mu­sic.”

Anath­ema them­selves pick up the Al­bum Of The Year award for The Op­ti­mist, and Danny Cavanagh later promises that they won’t lose this one, as they did with a pre­vi­ous award.

Tim Bow­ness’ Lost In The Ghost Light is hon­oured with the Al­bum Cover Of The Year award, handed over by prog art leg­end Roger Dean. Bow­ness and de­signer Jar­rod Gosling pick it up, al­though they do lit­tle to en­hance their self-styled rep­u­ta­tion as the More­cambe And Wise of prog! They prob­a­bly need Rick Wake­man to write their scripts.

Port­noy presents the In­ter­na­tional Band Of The Year award to Opeth, and Mikael Åk­er­feldt, like many of the re­cip­i­ents, hasn’t pre­pared a speech. In­stead, he grabs the chance to re­mark that the band still oc­ca­sion­ally do a cover of Na­palm Death’s You Suf­fer, which is an ex­tra­or­di­nary two sec­onds long!

Will Smith hands over the UK Band Of

The Year award. The co­me­dian and nov­el­ist is de­lighted that Mar­il­lion are the re­cip­i­ents, as he tells ev­ery­one, “As far as I’m con­cerned, they are the band of every year!” Well, he did once do an en­tire rou­tine at the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val based around them, so you can say he’s some­thing of a fan. Hog­a­rth takes the op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce each band mem­ber to the as­sem­bled throng, just to prove he’s not yet drunk enough to have for­got­ten their names.

The peri­patetic Jak­szyk is back on­stage to hand over the Outer Lim­its Award to Mark King, and re­lates how a call from the bassist 26 years ago saved him from bank­ruptcy!

“This is only the sec­ond award I’ve ever won,” says King. “The other one was for be­ing the worst-dressed man of 1989!”

He glances know­ingly over at Wright, who could be a con­tender in that cat­e­gory this year!

Steve Roth­ery is a mas­sive fan of Steve Hack­ett, so it’s ap­pro­pri­ate he gets the chance to hand over the Chris Squire Vir­tu­oso award to the lat­ter, who seems gen­uinely sur­prised by the hon­our. And does Hack­ett let out a se­cret when he tells us that he and Roth­ery are talk­ing about work­ing to­gether?

“I didn’t write any­thing down be­cause I wasn’t ex­pect­ing this,” Hack­ett says later,

“so what I said was all off the top of my head.”

Voivod drum­mer Michel ‘Away’ Langevin, one of the nicest peo­ple you could ever wish to meet, is over­come to be in a room filled with such lu­mi­nar­ies. “I’ve al­ways loved

Steve Hack­ett and Steve Hillage. But for me, the big­gest thrill is know­ing that I’m so close to Peter Ham­mill. He’s such a big hero of mine. How­ever, I don’t want to meet him. I hon­estly wouldn’t know what to say to him. How do you talk to a per­son who’s been such a mas­sive in­flu­ence on you?”

Ac­cept­ing the Vi­sion­ary Award on be­half of the band, Away in­evitably cites

Van der Graaf Gen­er­a­tor as be­ing hugely im­por­tant in Voivod’s devel­op­ment, as well as point­ing out that this is the first award they’ve ever been given.

To­wards the end of the night, Away is in­tro­duced to Ham­mill, and the pair ami­ably chat about mu­sic and their love for be­ing ‘awk­ward bug­gers’, as the lat­ter once dubbed those like him­self who get the Vi­sion­ary ac­co­lade.

A new cat­e­gory, the Industry VIP Award, is given to Max Hole and pre­sented by Andrew Daw, one of his pro­tégés at Uni­ver­sal Records. In a near 50-year ca­reer, Hole has done much to de­velop and nur­ture pro­gres­sive mu­sic, as pro­moter, man­ager and record com­pany ex­ec­u­tive. It’s in­cred­i­ble to think that the first gig he ever pro­moted was The Who at Can­ter­bury Univer­sity, sup­ported by Ge­n­e­sis. The fee? A princely £1,000!

Sonja Kristina warms to her task of pre­sent­ing the Life­time Achieve­ment award to Ed­die Job­son. She re­lates how he was brought into Curved Air to re­place Darryl

Way and Fran­cis Monkman when he was just 18. Job­son dis­agrees, though, say­ing he was only just 17 at the time. For some­one that young to be asked to take over two such cru­cial roles is stag­ger­ing.

The man him­self re­lates how he bought the de­but al­bums from ELP and Curved Air in 1970, and as­sid­u­ously learnt the key­board and vi­olin parts. He also pays homage to his for­mer UK band­mates Al­lan Holdsworth and John Wet­ton, both of whom passed away re­cently.

These two are also ac­knowl­edged at the start of the awards, when images of those tal­ents we’ve lost in the last year pass across the screen. It’s a som­bre yet also warm­ing re­minder of these gi­ants, and through­out the evening these peo­ple are also ac­knowl­edged by award re­cip­i­ents. Per­haps Mike Port­noy sums it up best when he says: “The mu­sic is time­less, but we are not.”

And so to the last award of the night, the most pres­ti­gious one of the lot: the Prog

God. This year it goes to Carl Palmer, and Danny Baker is given the job of pre­sent­ing it. Widely recog­nised as a huge ELP fan, Baker’s

“Ev­ery­where I look in the room, it’s full of friends or blasts from the past.”

Mike Port­noy

im­pas­sioned speech stirs ev­ery­one. He re­lates how, at the age of just 14, he went to see the trio at the Lon­don Pavil­ion in Pic­cadilly. The date is for­ever em­bed­ded in his mem­ory: De­cem­ber 15, 1971. “I’d never heard any­thing like it be­fore,” he ex­claims.

It re­mains the best gig Baker has ever seen, and it meant so much to him that he ac­tu­ally brought along vinyl copies of ELP’s al­bums tonight, plus a tour pro­gramme. And to in­tro­duce Palmer on­stage, he pulls out the press re­lease that was sent out with the band’s de­but al­bum, and he reads out the pas­sage about the drum­mer!

We get a mon­tage of footage span­ning the iconic drum­mer’s lengthy ca­reer. It in­cludes The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (Brown him­self is present tonight, in an out­fit that ri­vals that of Wright’s), Atomic Rooster, ELP, Carl’s Palmer’s PM, Asia and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy – a suit­able re­minder of how this man has spanned the whole prog era.

Palmer him­self pays due homage to the im­por­tant roles played by Keith Emer­son and Greg Lake in his life. “We were never the great­est of friends,” he ad­mits, “but there was def­i­nitely a magic be­tween us.”

He also men­tions the loss of John Wet­ton, who was part of the clas­sic Asia line-up along­side the drum­mer. And amus­ingly he re­lates how it’s “Only taken me 50 years to be­come an overnight suc­cess!”

Palmer rightly high­lights how ELP “Set the blue­print for this English art form” called prog, and it makes you re­alise that this man has been part of our lives for so long, it’s hard to imag­ine what mu­sic would be like with­out him.

“I owe so much to Keith and Greg for where I am to­day. With­out them, I would have been some­where, just not here.”

Baker in­ter­jects to­wards the end of Palmer’s speech to make a very ap­po­site point. “No­body ever says it, but Carl, thank you!” as he grabs the drum­mer’s hand in a sin­cere ges­ture that gets ev­ery­one ap­plaud­ing.

Palmer coun­ters that with an equally heart­felt com­ment of his own: “On be­half of Keith, Greg and my­self, thank you.”

It’s a fit­ting fi­nale to what has been un­ques­tion­ably the most mem­o­rable

Prog Awards so far.

“You know, when you walk into this room and see so many faces – some fa­mil­iar, oth­ers not, then you feel like you’ve come home,” says Sonja Kristina af­ter­wards. “It’s a fam­ily gath­er­ing once a year, and I love it.”

But the most oft-used phrase of the night is… “Where’s the bar?” Sev­eral mu­si­cians ask this vi­tal ques­tion at var­i­ous times in the night as they search for ex­tra sus­te­nance.

And who knows how many artis­tic plans have been hatched tonight? As Mikael Åk­er­feldt says: “There are just so many amaz­ing mu­si­cians here. I would love to do projects with even half of them.”

To watch Sir Lenny Henry and also Al Mur­ray wan­der­ing around with per­ma­nent smiles on their faces is a fine rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what makes this a unique oc­ca­sion.

There are no egos, no at­ti­tudes. This is a com­mu­nity who come to­gether from all parts of the globe and all ar­eas of the prog world in a spirit of ca­ma­raderie.

“I can­not be­lieve who’s here,” says Amy Birks, vo­cal­ist with the Beatrix Play­ers.

“To get the chance to per­form in front of these leg­ends is some­thing I could never have imag­ined hap­pen­ing to us. And we’ll never for­get this night.”

Per­haps Peter Ham­mill best sums up the feel­ing on the night. “Every year, com­ing here is a plea­sure. It’s déjà vu.”

Here’s to 2018, when we get to do déjà vu all over again.

For all the cov­er­age on the Pro­gres­sive Mu­sic Awards, see www.prog­magazine.com.

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE… THE PROG AWARDS ARE BACK!

PRE­CIOUS METAL: THE COV­ETED PROG AWARDS.

AL MUR­RAY AND DANNY BAKER GET TO THE POINT. THE BEATRIX PLAY­ERS WOW THE AU­DI­ENCE.

IN­VITED GUEST: MAR­IL­LION MAIN­MAN STEVE HOG­A­RTH.

PROG BIGWIG JERRY EWING GETS THE AWARDS UN­DER­WAY [WHILE LOOK­ING DEV­IL­ISHLY HAND­SOME – ED]. L-R: DE­SIGNER JAR­ROD GOSLING, TIM BOW­NESS, PETER HAM­MILL. OPETH CEL­E­BRATE BE­ING PROG’S IN­TER­NA­TIONAL BAND OF THE YEAR. SONJA KRISTINA

GETS INTO THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN.

BROAD­CAST­ING LEG­END DANNY BAKER WAXES LYRI­CAL

ABOUT HIS LOVE OF ELP. LUCKY MAN: PROG GOD CARL PALMER.

THE BIG BIG TRAIN BOYS.

MARK KING (CEN­TRE), THE WORST-DRESSED MAN OF 1989, PICKS UP HIS OUTER LIM­ITS GONG FROM MATTHEW WRIGHT, THE WORSTDRESSED MAN OF 2017.

LEG­ENDARY PROG ARTIST ROGER DEAN AN­NOUNC­ING THE COVER OF THE YEAR WIN­NER.

VIR­TU­OSO STEVE HACK­ETT WITH NICK D’VIRGILIO.

MIKE PORT­NOY, TRY­ING NOT TO LOOK AT MATTHEW WRIGHT’S SUIT…

CARL PALMER: A HUGELY POP­U­LAR PROG GOD.

A STEL­LAR LINE-UP, L-R: AL MUR­RAY, LENNY HENRY, JAKKO JAK­SZYK AND DANNY BAKER CEL­E­BRAT­ING THE

MU­SIC THEY LOVE.

MICHEL ‘AWAY’ LANGEVIN:

VOIVOD’S VI­SION­ARY.

CO­ME­DIAN, NOV­EL­IST AND MAS­SIVE MAR­IL­LION FAN WILL SMITH.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.