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  JOHN MITCHELL'S BIG AND ASTRONAUTY DREAM BECOMES A REALITY
Lonely Robot: Sub89, Reading


andy rawll
Words and Pictures: Andy Rawll



john mitchell

John Mitchell and friends played three dates to promote his superlative new album, 'The Big Dream', as part of the sci-fi tinged prog project Lonely Robot and we headed way out west to catch the Reading show.

Backed by longstanding percussive partner Craig Blundell (Steve Wilson, Pendragon, Frost) with Liam Holmes (Touchstone, Inglorious) and Steve Vantsis (Fish) on keys and bass respectively, Mitchell opted to focus on material from 2015s 'Please Come Home', as the new album was not formally released until the day after the gig.

john mitchell

In fact, the first album was played in its entirety, with the exception of the ballad 'Why Do We Stay?', which was substituted by new song, the similarly gorgeous 'In Floral Green'. This approach provided a great cohesion to the set, particularly the use of the sound effects and instrumental passages, for example the foreboding 'Airlock' prelude to powerful set opener 'God vs Man' with its hard-edged riff and lyrical theme culminating is a suitably searing solo.

The arrangements are unashamedly progressive in style, yet Mitchell's reverence of sleek 80s acts like Nik Kershaw and Go West is reflected by the hi-tech sheen of shorter songs like the 'The Boy In The Radio'. The album version includes Go West's singer Peter Cox and although present at the gig, there was to be no Cox Vox for this live version.

john mitchell

In fact, there was little need as Mitchell's warm husky voice was in fine form all evening, with his Gabrielesque rasp at its most potent on the inquisitive 'Are We Copies?' and Collins' croon on vibrant ballad 'Humans Being'. The only time that a song called for vocal embellishment was the memorable 'Oubliette' when long-time collaborator Kim Seviour provided perfectly pitched vocals.

Apart from his extensive credits as engineer and producer (Touchstone, Hekz, Enter Shikari, You Me At Six, Funeral For A Friend), Mitchell is best known as a top-tier guitarist from his work with Arena, Kino and It Bites and collaborations with Asia's John Wetton (RIP) and Jethro Tull's Martin Barre. As on the two albums, live his playing was dazzling throughout, particularly the Satrianan swagger of 'A Godless Sea' and Lukatherian lustre of the superb Toto meets XTC 'Construct/Obstruct'.

john mitchell

With the 'Please Come Home' finale bolstered by a rambunctious drum solo from Craig, the band returned to the stage to perform the two songs from 'The Big Dream' that had been previewed online since March: the muscular 'Everglow' and the brooding 'Sigma', with drums and guitars set to bang and strum, this was a triumphant end to a great evening of aural cinema.

With the album finally released, we must hope that Mitchell's busy schedule permits a follow-up tour that includes all of the songs from 'The Big Dream' as the main course and select tracks from 'Please Come Home'.

john mitchell

Setlist:
Airlock
God vs Man
Boy In The Radio
In Floral Green
Lonely Robot
A Godless Sea
Oubliette
Construct/Obstruct
Are We Copies?
Humans Being
The Red Balloon
Everglow
Sigma

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john mitchell

john mitchell

John spoke extensively with MetalTalk recently and you can see what he had to say right here.

9th May 2017









 

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