Trinity Live 2014

 Trinity Live 2014 flyer

 

So, what started as a planned short tour with The Reasoning, Touchstone and Magenta turned into a special charity gig at Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms on 18 May 2014 with a greatly expanded and quite mouth-watering line-up.  It promised to be a great day – and with an auction, a raffle, assorted donations from the great and the good, a VIP lounge and a guest appearance by artist Rodney Matthews mooted, I was sure it wouldn’t disappoint!  And so it was that I took my good self off to the inaugural Trinity event for a birthday weekend treat with Messrs Woodley and Brew.  Here is my review.

Trinity Live - Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms

Kicking off proceedings is former Pallas man, Alan Reed,  who, aided and abetted by prog whore Mark Spencer (sorry Mark, couldn’t resist), produces a set of engaging, accessible and thought-provoking tunes. Apparently he’s a BBC journalist now! The set consists primarily of solo material with Pallas’s ‘Sanctuary’ (a song about Auschwitz) thrown in for good measure. The highlight, though, is a superb version of Twelfth Night’s ‘Love Song’, for which Reed and Spencer are joined by Kim Seviour of Touchstone.  It hits all the right buttons for the occasion. They keep things relatively simple and uncluttered, giving the voices and words room to breathe. Sadly the world still needs the light cast by the words and music of the late Geoff Mann. Moving stuff.  Post-performance, I pick up a copy of Reed’s First in a Field of One for good measure.

Trinity Live - Reed Seviour Spencer Love Song

Reed, Seviour, Spencer – ‘Love Song’

Matt Stevens is fast developing a reputation, not only as a gifted and original guitarist, but also as possibly the nicest man in prog. That means that he plays his ‘one man and his guitar’ (oh, and a loop pedal) set to a receptive and supportive audience that responds well to his unique brand of energetic and inventive music. Those who’ve not done so should check out Lucid, his recent solo album, and Spooky Action by The Fierce and the Dead.

Matt Stevens - Photo by Tim Laurie

Lucid moments – Matt Stevens entertains. (Photo by Tim Laurie)

Motorway traffic has delayed the unfortunate Heather Findlay, so an impromptu change to the running order sees an earlier than expected performance from Magenta.  The presence of vocalist Christina Booth delights everybody in the audience – it was, after all, her cancer treatment that inspired the Trinity event in the first place. She looks and sounds fantastic. It’s an impressive set with the band rocking surprisingly hard and material from latest offering, The Twenty Seven Club, standing out.  The highlight of the set, however, is again a cover, with Alan Reed joining the band for a very emotional version of ‘Don’t Give Up’, the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush duet. (There’s a version knocking about on You Tube and Facebook, if you want to seek it out – check out the audience response!)

Trinity Magenta - photo by Ali Brew

Christina Booth and Magenta – photo by Ali Brew

When Heather Findlay does finally hit the stage she’s resplendent in a flowing white, sparkly dress, a veritable prog princess, whose powerful and striking voice delivers a shorter than planned six track set to a rapt and attentive audience. Joined by guitarist Chris Johnson, particularly impressive are the gentle and folky ‘Yellow Time’, and the classic (Mostly Autumn track) ‘Evergreen’. It really is a flying visit though, with Heather only able to stick around for half an hour or so before she’s off again. Bloody motorway traffic, eh?!

Trinity Live - Heather Findlay and Chris Johnson - photo by Ali Brew

Heather Findlay and Chris Johnson – photo by Ali Brew

Lost in Vegas are the band of Assembly Rooms owner and Trinity organiser Chris Lynch. They sound like my kind of thing – full-on hard rock. However, the unavailability of food in the venue (which doesn’t have a licence to serve food, apparently) means we’ve got to go out to eat sometime – and just a track or two in I leave with the others to feed my aching hunger.

Speaking of which, we make sure we’re back in time to catch the eagerly awaited return of The Reasoning, now a  six-piece with Robert Gerrard replacing Tony Turrell and giving the instrumental passages a new Purple-esque feel (that complements the guitar work of Keith Hawkins) and a new vocalist/acoustic guitarist in the form of Sebastien Flynn-Goze. It’s a storming set. Opener ‘Dark Angel’ sets the tone, followed by ‘The Thirteenth Hour’ . ‘Fallen Angel’ features a great vocal performance from Rachel Cohen, and two killer solos from Keith – such an important part of The Reasoning’s sound these days. ‘Awakening’ features a Bach-influenced organ intro from Robert, with the epic ‘Adventures in Neverland’, ‘A Musing Dream’ and, yes, crowd favourite ‘Aching Hunger’ drawing the well-chosen, career spanning set to a rousing conclusion. The band is currently working on a new album – and the vibe and performance auger well.

Trinity Live - The Reasoning

The Reasoning – the new look line-up rocks Trinity Live!

Touchstone are a band I usually want to like more than, in practice, I do. They have some very good moments, for sure, but despite the odd exceptional track, they’ve never quite done it for me. Until tonight that is! From the first note to the last, this is Touchstone with a BIG sound – more exuberant and confident than I’ve seen them before. Indeed, this is the first time I’ve seen them looking so ‘at home’ and using the full width of the stage to maximum effect. For me this is the performance of the day. I suspect they draw the biggest and most enthusiastic audience of the day too. Here is a band seemingly growing in stature before our very eyes, and it’s great to see. Though ‘Strange Days’ remains my personal favourite, it has to be said that with John Mitchell’s help they deliver a stunning cover of ‘Mad World’. You could be forgiven for thinking that they wrote it themselves!

Trinity Live - Touchstone

Touchstone and John Mitchell – powerful and persuasive!

That’s not to say that headliners Arena are in any way off the pace. They deliver a solid, enjoyable and highly-competent set with moments of genuine excitement. With Clive Nolan (and his rotating keyboard), John Mitchell and Mick Pointer in the ranks, it’s quite a line-up, and on this occasion Kylan Amos picks up bass duties in the absence of John Jowitt. Vocalist Paul Manzi is one of the most flamboyant front men I’ve seen in a while – nineteenth century dandy meets 1980s’  hair metal rock star! But there’s no doubt he has a good, strong rock voice, and visually he demands attention. Those untroubled by last trains and Monday morning work demands remain appreciative throughout and are well rewarded with a full-blooded and gutsy set. It’s a strong band performance and an entertaining end to a wonderful day.

Trinity - Arena Paul Manzi and John Mitchell

Headliners Arena – Paul Manzi and John Mitchell

A word too about the charity auction and raffle. An extraordinary number of bands donated all sorts of weird and wonderful paraphernalia – including Rush, Yes, Peter Gabriel, Steven Wilson, Marillion, The Pineapple Thief, Roger Glover, the Summer’s End Festival, The Reasoning, Steve Hackett, Touchstone, Flying Colors and Gordon Giltrap, to name a few! Artist Rodney Matthews even turned up to auction some of his own prints, including the ‘Heavy Metal Hero’, one of his favourite pieces. The biggest money was splashed on the Rush, Flying Colors and Steven Wilson items in particular, with my friend Ali delighted to secure The Pineapple Thief bundle!

 

Trinity - Rush Auction

 

The event apparently raised £12,000, which after operating costs enabled the Trinity Team to provide Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Cancer Research UK, and Brain Tumour Research with donations to the tune of £3,000 apiece.

There are plans to do it all again on 9 May next year, with work on assembling a killer line-up already underway. Make sure it’s in your diary!

 

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