Prognosis @ Rebellion, 5th November
Gunpowder, fireworks and bonfires greet Prognosis as they set fire to Rebellion in Manchester at their first ever headline show and we are witness to this extraordinary event.
Words: Anthony Firmin, Photos: Cai Dixon
On this day in 1605 the great Gunpowder Plot was foiled and ultimately Guy Fawkes failed to blow up Parliament, essentially we are commemorating a terrorist plot, thoughts that I ponder as I journey to Rebellion watching fireworks explode in dazzling displays in a multitude of colours along with the glow of bonfires, amazing and warming the watchers in equal measures. This is a fitting salutation to what is Prognosis’ first headline show after 18 months of hard work, what is bound to be an explosive evening of music; where Guy Fawkes failed, Prognosis are determined to succeed.
Beyond Salvation were tasked with kicking things into gear and with the autumn weather quickly darkening outside, their rapidfire brand of thrash metal got pulses racing. Hints of metalcore, of early Trivium and Killswitch, added zest and deviation to what is otherwise a purebreed thrash sound but that straight laced simplicity, off fiery riffs, melodic harmonies and accelerated rhythms, proved a fine opening salvo. With the place filling and beers now flowing, this was a job well done.
It has been a while since I last saw Lester Verde and listened to their sophisticated desert stoner rock. With it’s interesting time signatures it potentially pushes them into the realm of Prog. They received a rapturous welcome from the assembled crowd, thoroughly well deserved for a great performance that warmed the cockles on this cold, damp evening.
VOID are another band I have seen several times, usually through the view finder of my camera as I run around like a nutter taking photographs and not taking the time to really appreciate them. This evenings performance shows they are maturing musically and are well settled as a five-piece. The sound is more sympathetic with Charlie Powell’s keyboards higher in the mix as the band play their doom laden cross between classic rock and prog, Bogarts Brew being a good example of this with a solid groove laid down by Rob Wellcock and Mark Baxter. The biggest cheer comes when Powell dons his keytar and takes to the front of the stage in true progtasticly Rick Wakeman fashion during Megalachöng. The highlight is undoudtedly the mashup of Drunk In Paris and The Void, carefully stretched and layered with Danny Thornton’s guitar playing reaching out of the void – a joy to the ears.
It was only fitting that Prognosis invited Stoneghost to be their special guests this evening as the roles had been reversed at only Prognosis’ third gig. There are occasions when bands blow me away and Stoneghost are one of those bands, both musically and from the energy they delivered. Tonight is a reaffirmation of my love for them. And although this is a band of four people the focus is very much on the singer, Jason Smith, as he prowls the stage looking for victims to blow away with his extreme vocals and intense expressions, and intense is certainly the word to describe this performance.
Musically the band are tight with Cris Finiss and Jamie Nash delivering a heavy drum and bass rhythmic salvo onto which Andrew Matthews layers his complex metallic guitar playing. The rest of the band rarely move, concentrating on their playing, allowing Smith to be the focus and he delivers every time on every song. And as heavy as it is, it is also catchy as I found my foot tapping and my head nodding as they cruise through their set like a rocket powered bulldozer. Solid stuff – ignore them at your peril.
The fireworks have now moved inside Rebellion as Prognosis take the stage for their first ever headline show and the night is theirs as the crowd are in their lap. From the start of the acoustic guitar in the intro tape form which the band launch into The Sycophant, all the way through to the end of the set. Even minor technical difficulties prior to Speed Hating failed to derail the band's passion or the audience's enjoyment of this special evening. Moving from all out metal to Danny Daemon's Floyd-esque phasered bass intro of Waste, Prognosis are able to delve into technical areas that few other bands are able to cover resulting in them laying waste (gettit?) to Rebellion and almost certainly winning over new fans.
Their new songs, and they previewed three of them this evening, are showing a maturity in their writing and playing as they are growing and playing together. Maturity is an interesting word as it is also guitarist Phil Weller’s birthday, so a double celebration for the evening and one that, now that he is “wireless”, sees him venture out into the audience to play a solo.
But for me Drones, marking the end of the set is undoubtedly the highlight and played with an intensity they haven’t unleashed before.
Prognosis have come a long way in the 18 months or so that they have been playing live but Weller and Daemon, along with Webster on drums and Hickson also on guitar, are only just beginning their journey together – long may the fireworks continue in their honour.