Support Act: Sound Of Contact
Review and photos by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Performing a show in London on the same day that Yes are headlining the legendary Royal Albert Hall is the worst scenario for any Prog Rock band and that is exactly what happened to The Flower Kings on the evening of the 8th of May 2014.
Their performance at the O2 Islington Academy was expected to attract a small crowd as a result – still, the image of a venue not even half full fifteen or so minutes after the doors of the venue were opened was troubling. That, however, put off neither the Swedish ensemble, nor their impressive opening act from providing us with a good quality show.
Roine Stolt’s band is currently on the road promoting their latest opus “Desolation Rose” and, whilst the first half of the tour featured Jonas Reingold’s (The Flower Kings’ bass player) as a support band, it was Simon Collins’ Sound Of Contact which kick-started the proceedings.
Collins’ Prog pedigree is undeniable, and though there are more than a few instances during his performance where both his style of singing and the way he pounds the hell out of his drum kit could be compared directly with his legendary father, he has – fifteen years since he released his debut solo album “All Of Who You Are” – truly become his own man.
The Flower Kings’ fans seemed to be quite familiar with the material from this band’s debut release “Dimensionaut”, as songs like “Sound Of Contact” and “Pale Blue Dot” received a warm reaction, while “I Am (Dimensionaut)” found Collins performing an impressive twin drum solo with the band’s main skins man.
The most impressive composition, however, was the nineteen-minute “Mobius Slip” – a modern-sounding Prog Rock masterpiece which was performed powerfully, accurately and in its entirety, by the five musicians on stage and which would have sounded much better, had the sound levels been properly controlled by the man behind the venue’s sound console.
It seems that when, forty or so minutes after they first stormed the stage, the members of Sound Of Contact took their last bows, they did so in knowledge that their mission of converting new fans to their music was well and truly accomplished.
It took twenty or so minutes and a handful of hard working roadies to prepare the stage for the members of The Flower Kings; and, just after the clock struck nine, the five Swedes made their swift entrance onto the stage.
My eyes focused straight away on guitarist/vocalist Hasse Froberg whose British-themed suit and powerful vocals provided the perfect introduction to “Tower One” – the first of many songs belonging to the band’s latest album to be performed on the night.
“Desolation Rose” was one of the songs which suffered from sub-standard sound quality, with Tomas Bodin’s keyboards being literally buried under Felix Lehrmann’s bombastic drum beats , however, by the time Roine Stolt began singing the main vocal parts of “The Resurrected Judas”, most substantial sound-related issues had been pretty much sorted.
During my interview with Roine, prior to the band’s performance, one of the issues under discussion was the Internet and its influence and importance on modern day life and it was this topic that Roine decided to bring into discussion with the London audience during a much needed break.
The band then decided to focus again on their performance and began a long musical journey combining, in the process, flag-bearing tracks such as “Stardust We Are”, “Big Puzzle” and “Garden Of Dreams”.
It was, however, during the performance of “Numbers” that the Swedes truly flexed their Prog muscles, as this long and thematically varied piece provided each and every member of the band with the opportunity to stretch their performance to the maximum.
With the main set now complete, the Swedes left the stage, but it was not long before Jonas Reingold led the troops back for killer covers of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” and Genesis’ “Second Life Syndrome” with assistance provided, on both occasions, by Sound Of Contract’s Simon Collins (drums/vocals) and Randy Mc.Stine (guitars/vocals).
I am not going to lie – at first I was quite sad to have missed Yes’ performance at the Royal Albert Hall but, having experienced the performance of both these bands, I am inclined to believe that both I and those who chose this show over the other might have got the best deal after all.
With The Flower Kings currently at the top of their game and Sound Of Contact being one of the most inspiring musical propositions of late, attending one of the final few shows of this tour is strongly encouraged and recommended.
Sound Of Contact Set List:
- “Sound Of Contact”
- “Cosmic Distance Ladder”
- “Pale Blue Dot”
- “Not Coming Down”
- “Remote View”
- “I Am (Dimensionaut)”
- “Omega Point”
- “Mobius Slip”
- Part I: In The Difference Engine
- Part II: Perihelion Continuum
- Part III: Salvation Found
- Part IV: All Worlds All Times
The Flower Kings Set List:
- “Tower One”
- “Desolation Road”
- “The Resurrected Judas”
- “Stardust We Are”
- “Big Puzzle”
- “Garden Of Dreams”
- “Echoes” [Pink Floyd cover with Randy Mc.Stine (Sound Of Contact) on guitar]
- “Second Life Syndrome” [Genesis cover with Randy Mc.Stine on lead vocals and Simon Collins on drums]
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