Hafan y Mor, Pwllheli
17th to 19th March 2016
Mark Taylor: Photos by Simon Dunkerley
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
A Prog fest shared with a Sci-Fi Weekender saw many enthusiasts dressed as Trekkies or Star Wars characters. Even Brian Blessed added his huge voice to the weekend. But I was here purely for the Prog.
Now in it's fourth year the festival has grown to an extent that it will be a standalone event next year. Not that Prog fans will be standing alone mind you as this is a friendly festival where everyone has a common interest in beer and musical landscapes that expand the mind.
Thursday started with the impressive Hammerhead who had plenty of bite. Oktopus are a young three piece full of sonic technical wizardry combining the sounds of Rush and King Crimson, not quite the finished article but songs like 'World's Apart' and the epic 'Minotaur' showed plenty of future promise. Third Quadrant were a band who have never quite fulfilled their potential but they certainly gained some new friends.
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The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown stole the night with another captive and amusing show and Arthur proved he's got a lot to offer. He's much more than just a one hit wonder. The set was full of colour, humour and youthful energy and totally captivating.
Fortunately the sun was out all weekend so the mornings were a good time to explore the beautiful coastline where you could stroll along the cliff's edge without seeing a single soul.
Prog fans got acquainted to the sounds of instrumentalists The Fierce And The Dead, Greek progsters September Code and Abel Ganz, a little known band from Scotland who all impressed. Edgar Broughton left his band behind but gave a highly spirited acoustic set of largely new material.
Retro rockers Purson were a surprise late addition and were most welcomed. Purson's leading lady Rosalie Cunningham made many old proggers drop their bearded chins into their beer with her stunning Gothic look. More psychedelic garage sixties rock than Prog but Purson were refreshingly good and my band of the day. Caravan's set passed all too quickly but a compelling set was rounded off with the epic Nine Feet Underground.
A psychedelic jazzy ending with fellow Canterbury rockers Soft Machine saw some challenging sounds from John Etheridge on guitar, the purists' choice. Songs like 'Facelift' and 'Kings And Queens' can really test the listeners patience but those who intently paid attention were richly rewarded with one of the most uncompromising and idiosyncratic sets of the weekend.
Saturday saw Empty Yard Experiment give some Middle Eastern vibes and Messenger impressed many. The Enid were performing one of their last shows with founder Robert John Godfrey. It was an emotive set and The Enid have a new starlet with an operatic voice in Joe Payne. We got magnificent bombastic classical sounds with a new political calling. The Enid richly got everyone's vote.
Focus are regulars on the festival circuit and their set can become a little repetitive but Thijs Van Leer is a loveable character and I'll never tire of hearing 'Sylvia' and the madcap yodelling antics of 'Hocus Pocus'.
Ian Anderson stuck mainly to a Jethro Tull set that pleased the masses. His voice has lost a little of it's sharpness but the man still has his dry wit.
It was down to the new kids on the block, The Von Hertzen Brothers, to thrust the progtastic weekend into a successful ending. Mission complete.