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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

God vs Man
Boy In The Radio
In Floral Green
Lonely Robot
A Godless Sea
Are We Copies?
Humans Being
The Red Balloon


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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



Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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