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This is Prog. This is Love. This is Yes. PROGENY (2015)

A review of YES, PROGENY: SEVEN SHOWS FROM SEVENTY-TWO (Rhino, 2015).

PROGENY (Rhino, 2015)

PROGENY (Rhino, 2015)

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I was born in the summer of love, 1967.  The youngest of three boys (eight years younger than the oldest and five years younger than the older), I inherited my music tastes at a very early age.  Our house always had music playing—whether classical, jazz, rock, or pop.  I especially loved the first three, though I could belt out most of the words to Three Dog Night with the best of three year olds.  Crazily, I was able to sneak out of the crab, crawl downstairs (duplex), and put my favorite records on the turntable at 3 in the morning.  No, I’m not exaggerating.  I wanted the entire house to listen!

My favorites, though, even as a little kid were the songs by Yes, the Moody Blues, and Jethro Tull.  Soon, of course, bands such as Kansas and Pink Floyd would join this august company.

Sometime in 1973, one of my brothers purchased YESSONGS on LP.  Three albums, complete with huge gatefold and lots of pictures (indeed, a really great book that came with it).  I loved every aspect of YESSONGS.  I loved the music, I loved the Roger Dean paintings, and I thought the pictures of the members of the band (including Eddie Offord) hilarious.

Yessongs 2

Not too many hippies hung out in central Kansas, so these guys looked really weird, mystical, and Tolkienesque to me.

Anyway, I spent a considerable amount of time as a small kid poring over the lyrics and the Dean images.  How did those islands float?  How did the deer get from one to the other.  Of course, it all had been written about in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra, but I’d yet to encounter that brilliant novel.

I can state with certainty that the entire package of YESSONGS—from lyrics to music to image—shaped my own imagination fundamentally.

So, when I heard that Yes would be releasing a fourteen disk live set from 1972, PROGENY, I couldn’t resist.  I didn’t want the abbreviated version (the two disk highlights), I wanted the full thing.

Two things almost stopped me.  First, I’m no longer a huge Yes fan.  I was as a kid.  Obsessed for quite a while.  And, in college (1986-1990), too.  Admittedly, I’ve purchased every single album—live or studio—Yes has produced.  But over the last twenty some years, I’ve purchase the music out of habit more than out of love.  There’s no doubt that every Yes album has something good on it, but the goods—at least to my mind—have become increasingly sparse.  I don’t’ say this to ignite a flame war.  But, from my very subjective viewpoint, Yes just isn’t as good as it once was.  Some bands, such as Rush, get better and better.  Others simply fade, and still others merely linger.

Second, I’m generally rather skeptical about these kinds of packages.  If I’m shelling out over $50 for music, it better be amazingly good—music as well as art.  I have, however, spent lots and lots of money on Rush (R40) and Tears for Fears (the Steven Wilson box set of SONGS).   So why not for the work that really immersed me into prog.

“Dear God,” I thought as I hit the purchase button on amazon, “let PROGENY be worth the money.”

And, it is.  This is the mother lode.  This is the touchstone, the very source material, for YESSONGS.  It’s pure, it’s raw, it’s flawed, it’s genius.  At one point, during the beginning of a Wakeman solo, a local radio station playing Chuck Mangione, comes across the loudspeakers.  Oh, Spinal Tap, how wise you are.  Anderson makes a joke about it.  Anderson and Howe even get along, making jokes from time to time.

I mentioned on facebook that PROGENY is an “outrageous Yes overkill live package.”  It is.  And, I love it.  Pure over-the-top prog.  Seven concerts, fourteen disks, seven sleeves, a glorious booklet, a firm and tasteful box, and, of course, 10 hours/31 minutes/32 seconds of music.  Phew.

Despite a similar playlist for each concert, each performance is unique.  For those of us who have listened to YESSONGS so very much it’s been grafted onto our very DNA, PROGENY is a brilliant revelation.  Mistakes as well as fascinating solos (long, short, punctuated) predominate.  While at this point in my listening, I couldn’t state the guitar solo on Roundabout is better at the Toronto show than it is at the Knoxville show, but I certainly hear every difference.  This is a young, confident, happy Yes.  This is a Yes that wants to change the world and do so through love, not through corporate dominance and lawsuits and bitter relations.

This is the Yes that taught me to love prog.

This is prog.  This is love.  This is Yes.

[Corrected two things: It’s Eddie Offord not Eddie Jobson (thanks, Duane Day); and I was off on time.]

Old Progger Reviews Yes/Progeny

[Old Progger’s review taken from amazon.com; which I hope is kosher!–BB]

By Old Progger

545488_YES_Progeny_LP_Jacket_Cover_13630.indd

My copy of the full 14 CD version of Progeny arrived three days before the official release date, so I’ve had time for a really thorough listen to these gigs in their entirety. There are, as you know, seven full length gigs here, but is there too much music to trawl through? Of course not. You’re a prog fan so you have an attention span, right? Right! The music on offer here is great stuff. There’s real zing on display here. The band play as a tight, well-disciplined unit and they’re coming at you with real committment and energy.

Before I splashed my cash I was a tad concerned that the restoration processes might detract from the ethereality and mystique which made Yessongs such a wonderful album. I needn’t have worried. The fog which obscured much of the detail has been lifted to reveal layers that we couldn’t have known were there. In particular, Wakeman’s keys have real atmospheric breadth and depth, and Anderson’s young voice is every bit as angelic as you always imagined.

The full contents of the booklet are posted on Yes’ website. This will help your decision to buy or not and they’ll also give a good indication of the level of attention to detail which has gone into the restoration of the original analogue tapes. They’re worth your attention, certainly convincing me that instead of sitting on the splinter-inducing fence marked ‘compromise’ and far from plunging lemming-like over the precipice marked ‘cynical cash-grab’ the producers have clung gecko-like to the sparsely populated and narrow ledge marked ‘integrity’. The tale of how Chris Squire’s bass sound was rescued is worth reading more than once!

Yes fans will immediately spot even subtle differences between the performances because, like me, they will know all the studio and live versions of everything like the backs of their hands. The more significant departures will jump out at them. For example, the Yessongs version of Yours Is No Disgrace is included here without the edits and you’ll easily spot where they were! The differences over 14 CDs are are otherwise too numerous to list. Importantly, this valuable material has not been robbed of it’s character by lazily pushing the whole thing through software to smooth out the wrinkles. All the buzzes, pops and crackles are there to be heard. We hear the band tuning up and even occasionally fluffing cues. Jon Anderson’s spoken introductions are all kept and all the instruments and voices exist in their own clear sense of space, instead of the muddines we’ve all complained about on Yessongs. If you buy this, what you will hold in your hand might be easily described as the best quality bootleg you ever owned!

Packaging is nice and sensible, not ‘shouty’ like some of rock’s gaudier boxsets which fit nowhere except on your coffee table, yelling “Look at me!” This robust little box will fit nicely, and with some class, in your regular collection. There is a distinct lack of the usual pointless and lazy montage of old photographs in the booklet. What you will find are genuinely useful and interesting sleevenotes and some very nice new Roger Dean artwork.

Sure, it costs money, but considering what you’re getting I really don’t think anyone’s being excessively greedy here. I will be returning to this collection again and again. It’s one of the best boxsets I own.

YES!

Holy schnikees.  I wasn’t expecting it to be this beautiful.  The Yes set has arrived.

Photo on 5-26-15 at 1.07 PM

Stephen Humphries: Clerk of the Gods

The Art of Rush.  Text by Stephen Humphries.

The Art of Rush. Text by Stephen Humphries.

This morning I had the chance to read through Stephen Humphries website: http://stephenhumphries.blogspot.com

What a treat.  Yet another reason to love the weekend.

If you don’t follow him, you should.  Humphries is not only a great writer, but he’s also a great thinker.  Not surprisingly, Rush turned to him recently to write the text for the new Hugh Syme book, The Art of Rush.

Humphries seemingly has connections to every one in the prog world.  Anyway, check out his website.  His interviews are especially good.

All At Once, The Clouds Are Parted – Rush, Austin 360 Amphitheater, May 16, 2015

Rush from my iPhoneSpoiler Alert: If you are planning on attending an upcoming Rush concert on this tour and don’t want the setlist spoiled for you, then it’s advisable to not read this. But even if somehow the setlist does get spoiled for you? It won’t make any difference. It’s not the surprise of what they are playing on this tour that makes the show great – it’s that they are playing these songs. At that moment, you won’t be caring whether the surprise was spoiled or not, you’ll just be thrilled that you are there as a witness to greatness.

During the months from May through September, I usually welcome rain. Anyone who has endured the heat of a few central Texas summers (which start early and last a long time) will understand exactly what I’m talking about. But it’s important to remember the old saying about “be careful what you wish for”. We have received a much greater than normal amount of rain lately, including a torrential downpour the day before the show, and a good soaking rain on the morning after. But for May 16, the weather gods smiled upon us. The clouds did part, and legions of Rush fans were treated – and I do mean treated – to a concert for the ages in the relatively new outdoor venue of the Austin 360 Amphitheater.

In defiance of Albert Einstein, Rush started at the present and took the audience back in time, album by album, dusting off some long unplayed classics along the way. Of their 19 studio albums, 15 were represented in the setlist. Only Test for Echo, Presto, Hold Your Fire, and Power Windows were left unrepresented. Of course, that meant every album from their debut up to and through Grace Under Pressure had at least one song. It also meant that some classic albums, such as 1977’s A Farewell To Kings, had multiple entries in the set. And as the show closed, they even gave us a taste of a song that predates their first album.

Starting out with three songs from Clockwork Angels (The Anarchist, The Wreckers and Headlong Flight), the band then worked backward to Far Cry, The Main Monkey Business, How It Is, Animate, Roll The Bones (with some very entertaining video in the rap section), Between The Wheels, and closed out the first set with Subdivisions. It was a strong first half, and the inclusion of songs like Animate and Roll The Bones (which I had never seen performed live) and How It Is (never performed live before this tour) made it even better. The band was tight and yet having fun as well. But the best was yet to come.

The second half opened with Tom Sawyer (complete with the South Park introductory video), and things just got better from there. The first real stunner of the show came when the introductory synthesizers of The Camera Eye bubbled up from the background noise and led into another gem I had long wanted to see performed in a live setting. And man, did they deliver the goods. As the band played through the portion leading up to the first verse, fellow Progarchist Kevin McCormick turned to me and exclaimed on how “meaty” were the power chords of Alex Lifeson. Indeed, they were, meaty enough to throw on the grill and make a meal. The entire performance of the song was nothing short of scintillating.

Things just got better. After an obligatory (and excellent) rendition of The Spirit of Radio, we were treated to another rarely-performed-live gem: Jacob’s Ladder. After being threatened by the weatherman with real thunderstorms, this was the only one that actually occurred, and it was most welcome. By this point, my fellow concertgoers and I were beside ourselves with joy, showing our appreciation between songs with the same enthusiasm – and loudness – as we all must have at our respective first Rush concerts back in our teenage years.

The next one really threw me for a loop, as the band gave us a live performance of the first part of Hemispheres. Despite standing for the entire show, my jaw momentarily hit the ground when this one started. I was fortunate enough to see Hemisphere played in its entirety at my first Rush show in 1979, but I don’t believe they’ve played any of this epic since then. But on this night they did give us at least a piece of it, and the best part at that.

From there, they moved back to A Farewell To Kings, and gave us some instrumental sections of Hemisphere’s prelude, Cygnux X, Book I, with the song punctuated by a Neil Peart drum solo. Closer to the Heart followed, and after that, another highlight of the show for yours truly, Xanadu. Both Geddy Lee and Alex pulled out the double-neck axes for the performance of this piece, and had the donned their kimonos of the era, I would have sworn it was 1977 all over again. The irony was not lost on me that during a song about the inability to create Heaven on Earth, Rush seemed to do just that.

Following that, we were treated to Parts I, II, IV, and VII of their breakthrough classic, 2112. That led us to the end of the show proper, but there was no question that an encore was coming. As such, they closed out the show with Lakeside Park, Anthem, What You’re Doing, and Working Man – with a snippet of Garden Road thrown in for good measure. The show was over, but the euphoria was not. I cannot speak for the rest of my concert-going entourage, but despite being tired when I arrived home, it was only with great difficulty that I finally fell asleep. I was simply too wired from what I had witnessed – quite simply, the best Rush concert of the six I have been fortunate enough to attend, and one of the best (if not the best) concert of all those I have seen. There is some tough competition from a few Yes shows I have seen, but this one is definitely in the running for my best ever. And as much I have loved Yes for many years, there is no way at this stage that they could put on a show as incredibly fantastic as this.

The Last Man Standing

Of all the progressive rock bands that emerged in the 1970’s commercial heyday of that genre, Rush truly is the last man standing. Yes is still around, but in a diminished form (and I mean no disrespect to current vocalist Jon Davison, who is a great talent). With the split between Ian Anderson and Martin Barre, Jethro Tull is no more. King Crimson s touring under the Mk 7,396 lineup – or is it lineup Mk 7,395 (King Crimson being the one band that could make a current or former Yes member exclaim “damn, that band goes through a lot of personnel changes!). And Genesis is long gone from their glory days of the Gabriel/Hackett era. But last night, here was Rush, still in the same form as they were when “new guy” Peart joined prior to their first US tour, still touring big venues, still putting on not just a concert, but a spectacular multimedia presentation that is beyond the reach of virtually any other prog band currently in existence. This leads me to a few additional thoughts.

Much has been written here at Progarchy and elsewhere regarding the changing of the music business and the effect of the internet on the same. For those of us who love prog, this has mostly been a boon, an incredible boon at that. The current prog scene is alive and very vibrant, matching the glory days of the 1970’s in terms of quality while overwhelming that era in terms of quantity. Back then, one could keep up with the new releases. Nowadays, there are simply too many.

But while the music industry has changed in many ways for the better of us prog fans, one of the few laments I have is that I won’t likely ever get to see many of the current acts I like perform in a live setting. I most definitely will not get to see them put on a show like Rush still does, in a larger venue with the lights and big screen video that enhances the concert-going experience. But rather than dwell on that too much, instead I will choose to be thankful. Thankful that I did get to experience such a thing. Thankful that in a 35 year span within their 40 years plus career, I’ve been lucky enough to have seen Rush six times, and thankful that one of my favorite bands of my youth is still relevant, perhaps even more relevant.

This wasn’t lost on me as I thought about some of my fellow concert goers. The group with whom I attended ranged in age from 15 to 50 (with yours truly being the geezer of that bunch). The two youngest members of the group have not been alive long enough to experience many concerts of this magnitude, and with the change in the music industry, will probably not experience too many more, unless they want to see record company creations like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. For them, they were fortunate enough that they were able to see this show, and in time, they will realize how lucky they were.

For the older members of the entourage, we are lucky that we have been able to follow Rush for decades, much longer than most bands ever last. We have seen them continue to stay relevant and make music of the highest excellence through shifting musical trends and technological and economic currents that have upended the music business, morphing it into something unimaginable when they first started. Consistency and excellence, fueled by integrity that allowed them to benefit from the old order without being swallowed by it. And for that, they were able to give us, the fans, a career retrospective that will not soon be forgotten, and one that they seemed to enjoy playing as much as we enjoyed witnessing. Just as Geddy thanked us fans before leaving the stage the final time, let me turn around and say Thank YOU, Geddy and Rush. While I don’t like to presumptuously speak for others, this is one time I’m confident I’m speaking for everybody who had the good fortune to be there last night.

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Hat tip to Kevin McCormick for the original idea for the above meme :)

IZZ’s Everlasting Instant: Gorgeous Esotericism

IZZ, Everlasting Instant (Doone, 2015). Tracks: Own the Mystery; Every Minute; Start Again; If It’s True; The Three Seers; The Everlasting Instant; Keep Away; Can’t Feel the Earth, Part IV; Illuminata; Sincerest Life; Like a Straight Line.

Birzer rating: 9/10

IZZ's EVERLASTING INSTANT (2015).

IZZ’s EVERLASTING INSTANT (2015).

Concluding their trilogy—which includes the brilliant The Darkened Room and Crush of Night—Everlasting Instant is full of wonders. Though I rarely employ labels, this album makes me wonder if this is more art rock or more prog rock? Like much of the music once made by Talk Talk and now by Gazpacho and Elbow, IZZ produces densely layered and atmospheric albums, mysteries in and of themselves. Lyrically, the album offers the highest of poetic visions, calling us to things much greater than this realilty.

Perhaps most impressively, IZZ sounds at once like a group of very talented individual musicians as well as a cohesive and intense community of like-minded persons. Few bands can balance the individual talent of the musician with the force of the group as a collective. IZZ can and does. And, it does it very well.

Electric piano begins the first track, Own the Mystery, accompanied by a soft but firm male voice. Drums and a woodwind join at just under the minute mark. There’s a John Barleycorn and Colour of Spring feel to this opening track, but IZZ is never derivative, simply respectful of those who came before and also brimming with taste. A woman’s voice joins, and a dialogue—not unbecoming an T.S. Eliot play—begins. Does age slow us down, or does it make us wise? Perhaps, at some level, it does both. Most importantly, do we “own the mystery,” accepting the beauty and flaws of ourselves and those we love? Or, do we simply glide through life?

Track two, “Every Minute” is instrumental, a short guitar- and keyboard-driven meditation, followed by “Start Again,” an actual rebirth of the album, truly a second beginning to this conclusion of the trilogy.

This rebirth, however, comes in darkness. Someone has abandoned us, left us to bleed, alone, and on the floor. In isolation, the protagonist cries in agony, but an agony that stems from the soul rather than the body.

If It’s True, the fourth song on the album, finds us in a skeptical nightclub of mellow upper-class tipsy folks, all awaiting papers from their lawyers.

“The Three Seers” begins with a Simon and Garfunkel vocal (gorgeous) and grand piano. Visions hover in the air. Are the visions fanciful or true? If the latter, a game change lingers in the room. The middle part of the song, interestingly enough, resembles some of Keith Emerson’s less over-the-top playing, the song reaching its apex a little over three minutes into it, as drums and spacey keyboards join. The Three Seers ends gently, moving without a break into the soft electronica of the title track. The voice is now female (actually two voices), and the song seems to put the listener in a faerie tale told in the nursery. Lyrically, the words continue to discuss “hovering in the air,” and the songs becomes full-out rock (IZZ style) at about 1:27. Swirling guitars and drums and bass blast forward, and the song reaches perhaps the most intense moment of the entire album.

Keep Away is another contemplative number, keyboards awash. Guitar and bass predominate about two and one half minutes into the song, and the bass, especially, resembles Chris Squire’s magnificent playing on 1975’s Fish Out of Water.  As with almost every song on the album, a number of changes take place, include a middle section again resembling the best of ELP. To make it even more interesting, however, a strong female voice comes in during the ELP/electronica part of the song, warning us not to “wake the sleeper.” Further, as the voice of Sybil, she warns that one must “swallow his pride to save his soul.” Dante could not have stated it better.

Can’t Feel the Earth, Part IV, of course, finishes the three earlier parts of “Can’t Feel the Earth.” The bass, again, is outstanding, sounding, however, more like Tony Levin than Squire here. A driving song, everything jams here: all of the instruments and the voices. The lyrics praise “inspiration” as the motive for greatness, beauty, and becoming.

Illuminata is a bizarre song. Still excellent, but truly bizarre. Again, throw in some ELP, musically. The reason it’s bizarre, however, has more to do with the lyrics than the music. The lyrics are at once blatant and esoteric. They plead for an honest evaluation of self, but the lyrics also claim this will lead to “illuminata”? I have no idea what this means, aside from the word being a form of Latin regarding revelation. Is this Catholic, new age, pagan? I have no idea, but I feel like it must matter—perhaps a critical point in the album.

The penultimate song, “Sincerest Life,” has a Jon Anderson atmosphere, and IZZ proclaims “this world is love.”

The final song, “Like a Straight Line,” a quiet piano and voice number that becomes quite theatric and hopeful, of course, concludes the trilogy. Again, while it’s clear that IZZ is proclaiming the never-ceasing love of some kind of holy figure, it’s equally impossible to know who that holy figure is. Is this Mary, Star of the Sea, Jesus, or someone else?

Everlasting Instant is an absolute gem. Of course, nothing IZZ does is unimportant, but this album is even great by IZZ standards. And those standards start near the top of Olympus.  Still, Olympus might be accurate.  The only real flaw of the album, and, hence, the 9/10, is simply that the lyrics are incomprehensible toward the end of the album.  It’s one thing to be artful, but it’s quite another to be so open to any interpretation as to become meaningless.  Let’s hope Galgano and co. explain a bit more what’s going on here.  They don’t have to give away the store, but it would be nice to know the prices of the merchandise within.

NellieNews: Barock

BP

BAROCK PROJECT ANNOUNCE FOURTH ALBUM: SKYLINE

Ten original tracks over 70 minutes of rock music filled and powered with Progressive, Acoustic, Metal and Symphonic ingredients.

This is SKYLINE, the 4th release from BAROCK PROJECT, the Italian band that have built an international fan base over the years combining the Italian melodic progressive unique sound with English lyrics that opened a whole new dimension to their music.

After successfully completing a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, with backers from 5 continents, the album is published as an independent release in partnership with management Stars of Italy (USA) and distribution company The Merch Desk (UK). The release date is set for June 8th (physical) and June 13th (digital) with pre-sales already on sale at www.themerchdesk.com

Three years of intensive composition and preparation by Barock Project’s mastermind, Luca Zabbini, led to a sharp turn in the music style and arrangements. SKYLINE is, in the words of Zabbini, “a much more direct approach, unloaded of excessive virtuosity, to music with a more melodic structure, yet periodically touching those buttons that appeal to prog lovers”.

Many influences are captured among the notes of each track, yet ONE very distinctive original touch, a contribution of each of the four band members (two of them are new).

In the mind of both band and management, Skyline aims to run for best album of 2015 in its league, thanks to its artistic contents and world class feature appearances. (Vittorio De Scalzi of New Trolls vocals & flute on title track and Paul Whitehead as album cover artist).

The track list:

1 – GOLD (8:40)

2 – OVERTURE (3:40)

3 – SKYLINE (10:21)

4 – ROADKILL (5:59)

5 – THE SILENCE OF OUR WAKE (10:47)

6 – THE SOUND OF DREAMS (2:21)

7 – SPINNING AWAY (6:06)

8 – TIRED (9:58)

9 – A WINTER’S NIGHT (4:38)

10 – THE LONGEST SIGH (7:57)

The band will start promotional media tour right away and live concerts after summer 2015.

LINE UP:

Luca Zabbini – keyboards, bass and backing vocals

Luca Pancaldi – Vocals

Eric Ombelli – Drums

Marco Mazzuoccolo – guitars

Special Guest: Vittorio De Scalzi (Vocals and flute on track #3 SKYLINE)

BAND SITE: www.barockproject.it

MANAGEMENT: www.starsofitaly.com

DISTRIBUTION: www.themerchdesk.com

BAND CONTACT (media/management): Claudio Cutrone claudio@starsofitaly.com

Biography

The Barock Project idea generates from a desire to deliver the finest and perfect structure of classical music (mainly baroque music) with a rock-style and a little bit of jazz harmony, supported by a pop framework with the intention to revamp the appeal of ’70s progressive-rock.

The project founder, pianist and composer Luca Zabbini, states that his passion for the music of famous keyboardist Keith Emerson (ELP), has fuelled his desire to compose and play a full range of styles, from classical to rock and jazz.

In the summer of 2004, Giambattista”GB” Giorgi, a young bassist influenced by rock sounds with big passion for jazz, and drummer Giacomo Calabria joined the band.

After a long European tour with “Children of the Damned” and Iron Maiden’s singer Paul Di’Anno, Luca Pancaldi joins the band as lead vocals in 2002.

In January 2007 the band performs live in Bologna (Italy) with a string quartet. All arrangements are written by Luca Zabbini and they release the performance as a DVD called “Rock in Theater”.

In December 2007, published by Musea Records, the first album “Misteriose Voci” makes a great impact with very good reviews and media coverage from all over the world (“Passion Progressive” France ; “Progressive World.net” USA ; “ProgNosis” USA ; “MovimentiProg” Italy ; “Raw and Wild Magazine” Italy ; “Manticornio” Mexico ; “Prog Nose” Belgium ; “PRPM” Brazil ; “ProgWereld” Netherlands …)

In the summer of 2009 the band releases the second album “Rebus” with the Italian label Mellow Records, again with very good reviews from all over the world.

In March 2012, published by French label Musea Records, the band releases the third album “Coffee In Neukölln”, with all lyrics in English.

In the summer 2014 the band welcomes on board two new members, Eric Ombelli (drums) and Marco Mazzuoccolo (guitar) and begins recording sessions for their 4th and most complex album. Towards the end of 2014 bass player Giambattista Giorgi leaves the project leaving Luca Zabbini to play and re-record the bass lines on the forthcoming album.

January 2015, Barock Project sign a management contract with Stars of Italy and immediately after announce their 4th album, Skyline.

The Band

Luca Zabbini (keyboards – bass – backing vocals) was born on 26 March 1984 in S.Giovanni in Persiceto, near Bologna, and lives in Crevalcore. His father Onelio is a flautist and saxophonist and his grandfather and uncle were both professional musicians.   Therefore, Luca was surrounded by music from his early days, listening to his father and grandfather while composing. In 1990 Luca took his first piano lessons and the first steps in improvisation, listening to jazz and rock from father’s vinyl. One of those recordings was by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Luca was soon fascinated by ELP music and started playing Keith Emerson’s parts on the keyboard. In 1995 he had his first band called Fattore Comune, a disco-funky cover band.

In 1996 Luca founded the K2 band, with bassist Giambattista Giorgi (GB ) and guitarist Luca Comellini. This band played progressive rock covers such as ELP’s cover Tarkus, Pictures At An Exhibition, Hoedown, etc.   In 1997 Luca joined the “O.Vecchi” Musical Institute as pianist and composer.

Luca has written a great amount of compositions, from jazz to rock and classical, like Guadiana (a suite for two pianos and two cellos) and soon he will finish writing a concerto for piano and orchestra. In 2004 he became the keyboardist of Jesus Christ Superstar musical’s company in several theatres. His favourite classic composers are B.Bartòk, S.Prokofev , S.Rachmaninoff , A.Ginastera but mainly J.S.Bach and in 2006 he composed a concert for piano and orchestra.

After playing in several cover bands, in 2003 his dream came true when founded Barock Project, with the intent to spread the classical atmospheres mixed with the power of rock.   Visit his official site http://www.lucazabbini.com

Luca Pancaldi (lead vocal) was born on December 20th 1981 in Bologna. At the age of 13 he started playing bass because of his love for rock and heavy metal. He sang and played bass in several bands since 1996 and in 1999 joined Icon of Hyemes (a metal band), who published 2 mini cds and played concerts around Italy and other countries. Since 2001 he has been the singer in Children of the Damned (Iron Maiden’s Tribute Band) and in 2002 this band became Paul D’Ianno’s band (first historical Iron Maiden’s singer).

Paul D’Ianno and C.O.T.D. toured intensively all over Europe and he gained experience as a frontman. In 2005 he joined Barock Project as lead singer, leaving his backing vocals job at Paul D’Ianno and C.O.T.D.

Eric Ombelli (drums) was born on 15th May 1989 in Modena. Aged 8 he started playing guitar under several teachers and continued after to be self-taught. After ten years he decided to study drums, the instrument he loved as a kid. Under the guidance of Diego Crivellaro in 2007 and since 2011 with Paolo Caridi at Modern Music Institute in Modena, he practices rock style and especially progressive rock. His roots are in classic rock bands like The Who , Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple , although he likes to play in several styles, from funky to Latin and metal.

Eric has been the drummer of Barock Project since February 2012.

Marco Mazzuoccolo (guitar) was born on 14th September 1989 in Carpi, near Modena. In 2003, he fell in love with music after hearing Smoke on the Water riff played by his uncle.

At the beginning he was self-taught and concentrated mainly on the technical side of the instrument.

In 2006 he began attending guitar lessons with Khaled Abbas, who gave rise to his interest in harmony and improvised music. In the summer of 2008, he won a contest called “Bande Sonore” with a Prog-Metal cover band.

In the autumn of the same year, he enrolled in a Jazz course, at the G. Frescobaldi Conservatory in Ferrara, and at Modern Music Institute.

In February 2011 he got the Master qualification at Modern Music Institute with excellent marks, and in September of the same year he joined the teaching staff of the same school.

He has been the guitarist of Barock Project since February 2012.

The Barock Project music show perfectly suits theatre style venues and festivals.

All-Time Top Progarchy Posts

This coming October, progarchy will turn three years old.  Quite amazing, really.  If you’re interested, here are our most read posts since we began in the fall of 2012.  Looks like Rush and Neal Morse are pretty popular!

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Jeff Korbelik’s Lincoln JOURNAL STAR Review of Rush. Very nice.

In interviews preceding Rush’s 40th anniversary tour, vocalist and bass player Geddy Lee hinted the tour may be the band’s last.

Say it isn’t so, Geddy.

The Canadians — Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and percussionist Neil Peart — proved again Sunday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena why they are three of the greatest rock musicians to ever grace a stage.

Rush, performing the tour’s second show, played nearly three hours, offering up two sets, with a brief intermission between them, and a four-song encore.

“We have all kinds of little goofy things for you this evening,” Lee told the audience after Rush opened with three songs from its “Clockwork Angels” album: “The Anarchist,” “The Wreckers” and “Headlong Flight.”

To keep reading this very well written and enthusiastic review, click here.

Rush R40 Lincoln

Following in the wake of an epic May snowstorm, high winds, flooding, and tornados, my two oldest kids—Nathaniel (16) and Gretchen (14)—and I began our nearly eight-hour journey across the Great Plains about 8:45 yesterday morning. We arrived in Lincoln around 5, checked into our hotel room, and I immediately had an hour-long radio interview with two wonderful women out of Denver.

Scrambling as Kronos devoured the minutes, we headed across town in search of our pilgrimage site, The Pinnacle Arena.

We found it, and we were in our seats by 7:10. The show was supposed to start at 7:30, but it ran about 15 minutes late.

A nearly packed arena revealed a far more gender-balanced Rush audience then I’d ever seen before. Almost certainly because of Beyond the Lighted Stage, wives and girlfriends (it was pretty obvious that most of them were newbies) made up a significant part of the crowd. I’m sure there were women there on their own as well, of course, but most packs I saw were men only. Still, probably ¼ to a 1/3 of the audience was female. Impressive, to be sure.

1970s classic prog from Kansas, ELP, Jethro Tull, and Yes blared from the speakers as we awaited the Canadians.

Rush, May 10, 2015, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Rush, May 10, 2015, Lincoln, Nebraska.

A typically bizarre video introduced the band, detailing its journey from 1974 to the present, actually having Rush arrive in Lincoln, Nebraska. Alex even showed up on stage in a wheelchair, rather hilariously.

From the opening note to the last, three hours in all, Rush performed without flaws, as tight as ever, and as humorous as ever. I’ve never seen Neil smile so much. Throughout much of the evening, he kept making strange faces at Alex, Alex egging him on. Alex also said several things to the audience, but I couldn’t catch them all. The highlight of his hilarity, though, came toward the end of the evening, when he and Geddy traded places on stage, Alex mocking Geddy’s 1975 Zeppelin-esque screams.

I can honestly write: this was the single finest rock concert I’ve seen in my life. It was the absolute dream of a Rush fan and a prog fan. Everything, simply put, was perfect.

The music, the song selection, the videos, the lights, the lasers. . . . Every. Single. Thing.

Peart's second of two drum solos.  As my 14 year old daughter said to me after the concert: Peart was the best part.

Peart’s second of two drum solos. As my 14 year old daughter said to me after the concert: Peart was the best part.

***Here, there be spoilers!***

If you’re not interested in what the band plays, please stop reading here. There be spoilers below! You have been warned.

I made sure NOT to find out what Rush was playing. A close friend had posted the name of one song online, but, otherwise, I refrained from reading anything about the tour. I’m really glad I did. So, again, if you want to be stunned—and you will be—don’t read below.

Geddy.  From the Wizard of Oz.

Geddy. From the Wizard of Oz.

The entire show went exactly backwards. Rush started with three blistering songs from CLOCKWORK ANGELS and then progressively (regressively?) worked back to 1974. They played songs from every album except Test for Echo, Presto, Hold Your Fire, and Power Windows. Ten songs long, the first set included the three songs from CA, Far Cry, Main Monkey Business, How it Is, Animate, Roll the Bones, Between the Wheels, and Subdivisions. Amazingly enough, the Rush guys turned the rather geeky rap section from Roll the Bones into one of the best parts of the evening. Even I won’t spoil what they did, but it had all three Birzers in stitches.

As excellent as set one was, it was set two that floored me. Tom Sawyer; The Camera Eye; Spirit of Radio; Jacob’s Ladder; Cygnus X-1(!); Closer to the Heart; Xanadu; and the nearly-complete 2112 made up this glorious set. I actually cried during the middle of Xanadu I was so moved.

Rush departed the stage for probably less than a minute. For the encore, the band came back as though it were 1975, complete with a set from the gymnasium of Rod Serling High School. Geddy even introduced the band as though Caress of Steel had just come out. The encore: Lakeside Park; Anthem; What You’re Doing; and, of course, Working Man.

I’m getting chills just thinking about it all. . . .

I’ll post more photos later.  At the moment, I’m on a terribly slow connection.–BB

[Brad is one of the three founders of Progarchy.  He’s rather goofy, and he has a book, NEIL PEART: CULTURAL REPERCUSSIONS, coming out this fall from WordFire Press]

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