The Enid Leeds Holy Trinity Church 6th March 2015
The Enid are truly back, ignoring their critics (as always), and playing their own brand of symphonic prog-rock in the way that only they can. But this time the critics are unanimous in their praise:
“The Enid have reaffirmed their place among the pantheon of Prog Gods” (Rachel Mann, Prog Magazine).
“The quintessentially English prog group” (Tim Jones, Record Collector Magazine).
“The most majestic rock band of all time” (Band On The Wall).
Enid founder Robert John Godfrey has assembled a new line-up which rivals all previous incarnations of the band. The musician is, without exception, superb and, in Joe Payne, they have discovered a front man who is simply astounding in his stage-craft, performance and vocal ability. They have recently completed a new album, “The Bridge”, which they are touring with at the moment. Robert John Godfrey calls “The Bridge” a “musical allegory” and says of it: “Bridging the gap between the arts and entertainment; the shallow and the deep; the brash and the sensitive. A place where history meets the future. A plea for open mindedness, tolerance and natural justice at a time when the world is sleep walking into the unknowable.”
Last night I went to see The Enid perform their “Bridge” show in Holy Trinity Church Leeds. The show was sold-out and the venue was perfect; Holy Trinity is an active Georgian church in the centre of Leeds. I drove down to Leeds and arrived around 7.30pm, the show was due to start at 8pm. The church was already full and I found myself a seat in a pew towards the back, making sure I had a clear view through the pillars.
Singer Joe Payne says of the new tour concept: “When we first discussed making an album of classical music, I insisted we perform this music exclusively in intimate seated venues. I grew up in the theatre, and hadn’t had much of a rock background before meeting The Enid. So I was determined to re-explore my roots and put on a really extravagant show….The set list must tell a story. The show must run seamlessly. No more ‘now we’re going to play this one, and then we’re going to play that one’. There will certainly be pieces from across The Enid’s back catalogue, but ultimately art must trump nostalgia. These shows will be our most ambitious since the Salome Ballet in the 1980s!”
The concert started in darkness with a grainy screen, mimicking the opening of a 1950s cinema newsreel, and with the traditional Enid anthem “Land of Hope and Glory” (ah, memories of the Reading festival and previous Enid triumphs). Then a video of Joe Payne, dressed as our vintage monarch, delivers a message “We are One. We Can Take It. We are One. We are Many” to her people. Godfrey opens “One and the Many” with quiet, exquisite piano, and then, creeping out of the darkness, appears a hooded Joe Payne; singing as he walks from the back of the church, in the highest, scariest yet sweetest soprano voice. I can’t describe how powerful this opening was.
The mood was set for the rest of the evening. The performance was stunning, outstanding, mesmerizing. Each song “bridged” to the next with a short (semi-political) video, displayed on the multi-media screen behind the band. The visuals were superb, perfectly complementing the performance. So many influences came through; classical, prog-rock, Eastern, opera, church choirs, musical theatre, early-Genesis; yet the music is of its own. Concept pieces like this often come over as contrived and pretentious, and thus ultimately fail; this one doesn’t; it succeeds on every level. The Enid have created a show which exceeds all the superlatives that have been written about it, and lives up to the hype. In a couple of years they have gone from playing to a handful of people to selling out venues of a few hundred. I heard one guy say that he had flown from France for the show. Another said that he has seen the Enid three years ago at Leeds Irish Centre and that there were around 6 people in the audience.
At the end of the performance the audience stood and gave Godfrey and his creation thunderous applause, which lasted for several minutes. The encore was “In the Region of the Summer Stars” from their debut album.
I don’t recall exactly when I last saw the Enid. It was probably in the mid-’70s at either Newcastle Mayfair or the Reading festival, where they became big favourites. At that time they played all instrumentals. The Enid of today is a very different animal. I don’t think I have ever seen a band re-emerge in such a strong and perfect way.
The concert finished around 10.45pm. I drove home up a windy A1 and A19; back home around 12.30am.
The Enid are: Robert John Godfrey (keyboards), Joe Payne (vocals), Max Read (guitar, bass), Dave Storey (drums, percussion), Jason Ducker (guitar) and Dominic Tofield (bass, percussion, guitar).
Act I: Land of Hope and Glory; One and the Many; Terra Firma; Earthborn; Witch Hunt; Space Surfing; Malacandra; Dark Hydraulic
Act II: Wings; Something Wicked This Way Comes; Execution Mob; Leviticus; Someone Shall Rise; Judgement; Shiva
Encore: In the Region of the Summer Stars.
One of the best performances I have seen by any band in many, many years.
Archive for the ‘The Enid’ Category
The Enid Leeds Holy Trinity Church 6th March 2015
Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂
The Reading Festival 27 – 29 August 1976
It was August Bank Holiday 1976 and I was back at Reading for the annual festival. By now a group of us went every year, usually traveling down in the back of a hired transit van. The line-up for this festival wasn’t as strong as previous years, and included a mix of reggae, classic rock, underground and heavy metal bands. Punk was on the horizon, but yet to break through. The other memories I have are of rain (some, but not lots in 1976, as I recall), mud, lots of drunkenness (by us, and every one else as I remember), and lots (and I mean lots) of can fights, which seemed fun at the time, but were probably actually pretty dangerous. If you got a half-full can of Watney’s Red Barrel on the back of your head, you really knew about it, and several people must have come home from the festival with pretty nasty cuts and scars. The festival was moving from a friendly, hippy vibe to a drunken, laddish, almost aggro vibe. This also matched the way the line-up and the music would develop, as it moved more to heavy metal in the late ’70s. The main attraction for us this year was Rory, who was the man, and a hero to us all.
Friday’s line-up consisted of Stallion (don’t recall who they were), Roy St John (American pub rock), U Roy (reggae), Supercharge (a Liverpool band fronted by singer and sax player Albie Donnelly, who had quite a bit of success in the mid-70s and played a lot up and down the country; I remember seeing them several times), Mighty Diamonds (reggae), Mallard (Cpt Beefheart’s original Magic Band, and pretty good too) and headliners the hippy, trippy and quite weird Gong. I remember watching Mallard and Gong, who were both pretty good.
Saturday had Nick Pickett (a folk singer, who I’d seen supporting Curved Air a few years earlier), Eddie & The Hot Rods (classed as pub rock as much as punk at this stage), Moon, Pat Travers (ace guitarist), Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum, Sadista Sisters, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Van Der Graaf Generator, Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, Camel and Rory Gallagher. Stand outs for me were Van Der Graaf who played an amazing extended version of Killer (John Peel: “Bloody marvellous, Van der Graaf Generator. Come on let’s here it for them”), Manfred Mann, and Phil Manzanera and the 801 band, which was seen as a pretty big deal at the time as Phil had assembled a stella line-up of himself (guitar), ex-Roxy compatriot Brian Eno (keyboards, synthesizers, vocals), Bill MacCormick (bass, vocals), Simon Phillips (drums), Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air, piano and clavinet) and Lloyd Watson (ace slide-guitar, vocals). The 801 band released one album, and a live lp which was recorded at one of three gigs that they played, at the Festival Hall. They played a great version of the Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows. But Rory was the highlight of the weekend. We were all massive fans, and made our way to the front of the crowd for his set, which was just amazing. A recording of Rory’s set that night exist which shows that he played: Take What I Want; Bought and Sold; Everybody Wants To Know; Drinkin’ Muddy Water; Tattoo’d Lady; Calling Card; Secret Agent; Pistol Slapper Blues; Too Much Alcohol; Souped-Up Ford and Bullfrog Blues. The Rory Gallagher band was Rory (guitar, vocals), Lou Martin (keyboards), the great Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Rod de’Ath (drums).
Sunday featured: Howard Bragen; Aft; The Enid (who got the crowd singing along with Land Of Hope And Glory and became a festival favourite), A Band Called ‘O’; Back Door (very jazzy); Sassafras; Brand X (featured Phil Collins on drums); AC/DC (one of their early UK appearances, and just blew everyone away; Angus and Bon Scott on top form); Sutherland Bros & Quiver; Ted Nugent (had some arguments with the crowd who were throwing cans at him); Black Oak Arkansas (Jim Dandy to the Rescue 🙂 ) and Osibisa (who were billed as special mystery guests, which seemed a bit of a let down, but got the crowd going and went down well).
Another fun time had by all 🙂
Note; for the first time there was an official glossy programme, as well as the newspaper programme, produced by the local Evening Post. Both are pictured here.