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My Progpower Fest weekend

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA' started by CrimsonEmotions, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. CrimsonEmotions

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    Now that I’ve had a little bit of rest, and because I don’t feel like doing anything resembling actual work, let me go ahead & give everyone an overview of my weekend at ProgPower.

    After a 3 hour + drive from Knoxville, I made it into town on Friday night shortly before 4. However, I didn’t pay that much attention to Raintime or Communmic’s sets, as I was more interested in getting something to eat, getting merchandise & Sonata Artica’s autographs. Unfortunately, after spending a half hour at one table, they told us that the authograph was on the other side of the building, and so I wound up waiting for quite a while.

    This cut into Virgin Steele’s set, which upset me a little as VS was one of the main reasons I went. I still didn’t miss much, and was able to get a good seat in the center, most of the way up. This was an incredibly blistering set, and while the over-the-top nature of the music or lyrics may put some people off, I thought it worked very well. Given only an hour, they really killed, focusing mostly on their fairly recent material (Marriage of Heaven & Hell 2 forward). Given that restriction, I thought they had a very good setlist, and I was amazed they did Veni Vidi Vici, the 9 minute closer to Invictus, my favorite album of theirs today. Altogether a great performance that essentially justified the lengthy drive on its own.

    Then it was more time killing, as I didn’t care much for Redemption and I wanted to get Virgin Steele’s autograph. The guys were very nice throughout the session. The guy in front of me had some old school 80’s material, and they laughed at how they looked back in the day. As for me, I found out the secret to David’s killer voice (tight pants).

    Pagan’s Mind was the next band that I caught in its entirety and they sounded pretty good with a very positive reception from the crowd. However, I didn’t know anything by them going to the show and I don’t have that much of an impression of their set after the fact.

    Then it was the headliners of the evening—Sonata Artica, a band that I had grown to love in the last year or so. Although I don’t have any of their studio albums, I have both of their live albums and a couple of boot. Seeing them live was absolutely amazing—they did not disappoint (except for not playing their best song Last Drop Falls). The band clearly fed off the energy from the fans, and responded in kind. I didn’t know all of the songs, but the material seemed to be a mix of the standards plus a few new songs to give fans a flavor of the new album. No matter, the fans ran wild throughout.
     
  2. CrimsonEmotions

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    On Saturday, I arrived shortly after the doors opened and found a good spot in one of the stage right sections. This time I snuck in a McDonald’s burger so I didn’t have to walk forever or pay 7 bucks for some mediocre food from the bar. Saturday’s show was an exercise in endurance, running from 4 PM all the way to 2:30 AM. However, it was an amazing day, and could rank as one of the best shows I’ve seen from top to bottom ever.

    Firewind was up first. I hadn’t heard anything by them, and I was impressed at the outset. They came across as a pretty good straightforward band in the mode of early 80’s Whitesnake or Accept, only a bit flashier in terms of musicianship. Guitarist Gus G was amazing, but the most impressive feat of the set was watching the other guitarist briefly play the guitar and keys in more or less perfect synchronisity. To top it off, they also brought out their original singer for a couple of songs, and it really worked.

    Right after the set, I bolted to get the signatures for After Forever (I had bought their new album earlier in the day after hearing the killer song Energize me in one of the many samplers offered). They were very nice, and I looked forward to hearing their set.

    Threshold took the stage, and I was wary, as I had heard some boots from the latest tour and Damien didn’t seem to fit in with the sound. However, either they took a few weeks to gel, or Damien comes across far better live because this was one of the highlights of the weekend. Although there were only 7 songs in an hour, they were nearly all spot on. Damien looked like he really enjoyed himself, going into the crowd at several points, including some crowd surfing. The band itself was about as good as they could get, with some true gems such as Mission Profile, Sanity’s End and Hollow. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get in everything they wanted as songs such as the unbelievable Light & Space was on the list, but didn’t get played due to time constraints.

    Next up was Primal Fear, and I was beginning to hit a wall, having only 4 hours of sleep the previous night. I was clearly zoning out, even though they delivered a very good set. However, I came to midway through, just in time for their live debut of the incredible opus Fighting the Darkness, which is a beautiful masterpiece that is gentle then heavy then gentle again.

    After Forever followed and they were also very damned good as well. I didn’t know as much from them, which hindered my enjoyment somewhat, but I could really rock out on their stuff. However, I ditched the end of the set to get in the Primal Fear autograph line.

    Primal Fear were pretty cool, and Ralf in particular was fun to talk to. I complemented him on the fantastic debut of Fighting the Darkness and had Ralf sign the FtD page of the CD booklet.

    After an extremely long wait, there was the all-star jam. Running for about 2 ½ problems and plagued with technical problems (not the least of which was a mic failure to open up the jam), this wouldn’t go down as the smoothest aspect of the show. However, it was usually quite energetic, often quite drunk, and at one point borderline obscene (as Damien Wilson brought out a stripper covered only with a g-string and body paint). The jam had a lot of great moments, including Zak Stevens doing Strutter in Paul Stanley makeup, a killer version of Faith No More’s The Real Thing, Floor stealing the show with killer performances of The Final Countdown and Heart’s Alone, and an energetic Balls to the Wall to close out the show. However, the highlight of the jam was Floor and Ralf Scheepers team up to do a particularly emotional version of Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever.

    All in all, this was an incredible show and definitely well worth the time and money invested. It was a great chance to watch a number of bands who don’t usually get attention in the U.S. and to actually talk to other people who are into this kind of music (most of my peers would have no idea about this cool stuff).

    Let me close out by saying a huge thank you to everyone who put this together, including the bands, the staff and the promoters, especially Glenn who showed us that killer festivals do not need to be limited to Europe.
     

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