HRH Prog Fest Magna Centre Rotherham 6 April 2013

HRH Prog Fest Magna Centre Rotherham 6 April 2013
magna1 I won free tickets for the Prog fest at the Magna Centre yesterday, and drove down to Rotherham for this event with my mate Norm. The line-up was headed by Hawkwind, and featured a host of other prog-related acts including the Strawbs, It Bites, and Arthur Brown. We arrive at around 5pm just is time to catch Arthur Brown. Arthur is doing a great job of recreating the psych-tinged R&B which featured on his first album. His set is drawn largely from that album, and he fronts a new band of excellent musicians, including a great keyboard player and guitarist. He is also accompanied by a dancer, with whom Arthur engages in some crazy, comical moves. His voice is as strong as ever; the Crazy World lives on. After seeing Arthur and his Crazy World we nipped out to Ben and Jerrys in Meadowhall for a bite to eat, and returned in time to catch the end of It Bites’ set, including Calling All The Heroes.
The Magna centre is an intriguing venue for a rock festival. It is housed in a massive old steelworks, which in its day will have been at the heart of the Sheffield steel industry, and by day it is a visitor attraction showing the history of steelmaking. The festival took up much of Magna over this weekend with some festivals in one taking place: the Prog fest which was the reason for our visit and its companion AOR fest, both organised by HRH. Each festival had two stages: the Prog fest main stage was in the “Face of Steel” and stage 2 was in “Earth”. For the AOR fest the main stage was in the Big Hall, and the second stage was in “Fire”. Signing sessions took place in the “Fuel” restaurant: we headed their after It Bites, lined up and got a flyer signed by some of the members of Hawkwind (sadly Dave Brock did not come along 😦 ).
magna We then found our way to the strange little room, which was “Earth” at the other end of the venue, and watched a little of the acoustic Strawbs, before heading back to the “Face of Steel” for Hawkwind, who opened their set with my favourite “Master of the Universe”. It was really getting cold by now; the size of Magna, with massive high ceilings, means that it is probably impossible to keep warm now, although it will have been red hot in its day when it housed a furnace. Norm and I have experienced how cold it is before, when we went to see Hawkwind ay a fan club event a few years ago on a cold December night. We watched a little more of Hawkwind’s set and then decided to keep warm by moving around and visiting the AOR fest. The Main Hall was packed for Tesla who seemed an intriguing rock band. We then went up to “Fire” where we watched a couple of songs of Estrella. Then it was back round to Hawkwind again, passing “Earth” where Karnataka were playing. Hawkwind finished their set around 11pm with Damnation Alley from the Quark, Strangeness and Charm album. Hawkwind have been playing the entire Warrior at the Edge of Time album on their current tour, with dancers and light show. Apparently the stage at the Prog fest wasn’t big enough for the show, so Hawkwind decided to revert to a standard set. As it was getting late by the time Hawkwind finished and we had a two hour drive home we decided to pass on seeing Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and heading for the M1 north. Got home 1am. The festival was fun, but the venue was FREEZING…..

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