TRANSATLANTIC announce mammoth ‘Live at Morsefest 2022: The Absolute Whirlwind’ release

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – have announced the release of ‘Live at Morsefest 2022: The Absolute Whirlwind’ for the 26th April 2024. This mammoth Limited 5CD + 2 Blu-ray Artbook set features both sets from Morsefest in their entirety, with nearly 4 and a half hours of music in total. 

To coincide with the announcement, the band have launched a live clip of the track ‘Can You Feel It’, taken from night 2, and you can watch that video here:

Pre-order the album as a Limited 5CD + Blu-ray artbook, featuring an extensive 36-page booklet including photos and liner notes, here:

Transatlantic – Can You Feel It (Live at Morsefest 2022) (

Mike Portnoy comments:

“Not to be confused by last years live release of our last show in Paris, THIS release of TA at Morsefest 2022 represents the most epic and mammoth of all TA Live releases! 

2 Nights, 2 completely different sets, 2 TA concept albums done in their entirety…accompanied with Strings, Horns, Percussion, Female Vocals, etc…Transatlantic has always been about “More Never Is Enough”, but no live TA release has ever been more EPIC than this one…It’s the ULTIMATE Live TA experience!” 

Neal Morse adds:

“At long last, a musical dream come true in true epic fashion! To play The Absolute Universe, The Whirlwind, and other great pieces of music with Transatlantic, along with an amazing string section, background singers, etc. What more could any musician ask for? This is the very best of the very best in my view. I hope you all enjoy experiencing this as much as we enjoyed performing it!“

Roine Stolt comments: 

“Playing Morsefest was quite a task, learning all the different material for the 2 different shows.  

We even got a chance to play that Procol Harum tune, that is dear to me & takes me back to my teenage years, just getting to know what prog is/was. The addition of the strings and choir at Morsefest, plus Philip adding percussion lent a different and perhaps more of an orchestral side. That worked really well and made these 2 nights very special.”

 Pete Trewavas comments:

“To play Morsefest 2022 was an absolute pleasure for me and gave us a natural break at the end of the North American leg of The Absolute Universe tour, where we regrouped at Neal’s to rehearse for the two shows, back where we had rehearsed for the tour some four or five weeks earlier.

We had 3 days I think it was to refresh The Whirlwind full version and learn ‘In Held T’was In I’. The festival was an absolute blast. We were all super relaxed and enjoying ourselves probably due to the little break from touring back to rehearsing. 

Neal had been wanting to get Transatlantic at MorseFest since we released Whirlwind and it never panned out for various reasons, so it felt fitting that we got it all together for The Absolute Universe tour.”

Morsefest, the festival put on by Neal Morse annually in Nashville, Tennessee has been in existence since 2014. Typically, the weekend-long event celebrated music from Neal’s solo work and other bands from his career.  But with each passing Morsefest, there had been one question lingering among the faithful audience that returned every year…when will Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas perform at Morsefest?  In 2022, at the 9th Morsefest, it finally happened and in epic Transatlantic fashion.  

In 2021, Transatlantic released The Absolute Universe, the band’s 5th album since forming in 2000. However, as the band’s motto is “More Is Never Enough,” ‘The Absolute Universe’ was released as two different versions – ‘The Breath of Life (Abridged version)’, and ‘Forevermore (Extended version)’.  In addition, the band combined those two versions for an Ultimate Edition of the album. With touring restrictions due to the pandemic finally lifted, the band finally started their tour in April 2022 ending up at Morsefest on the weekend of April 29th and 30th. 

The weekend at Morsefest provided 2 nights of shows.  For night one, the band performed their classic album ‘The Whirlwind’ in its entirety, the first time they had done so in 10 years.  The evening also added “Into the Blue” and “Shine” from the band’s 4th album ‘Kaleidoscope’ as well as the classic ballad “We All Need Some Light.” As a surprise, the band played a song they’ve never performed live before – their cover of the Procol Harum classic “In Held ‘Twas In I” from the first Transatlantic album ‘SMPTe.’ 

Night 2 saw the full performance of The Absolute Universe – The Ultimate Edition, combining all of the tracks from the 2 versions of the album.  The night closed with a medley of tracks from the band’s first two albums including “All of the Above,” “My New World,” and “Stranger In Your Soul.” 

For the first time, the band performed alongside a choir and string section, making these shows truly special for those who were in attendance.  Now, you can experience these incredible performances for yourself with the release of this Limited Deluxe 5CD+2Blu-ray artbook, featuring an extensive 36-page booklet with photos, contained within a hardcover.  

Night 1 Tracklisting: 

1. Into The Blue 

2. In Held (‘Twas) In I 

3. Shine 

4. We All Need Some Light 

5. Overture/Whirlwind 

6. The Wind Blew Them All Away 

7. On The Prowl 

8. A Man Can Feel 

9. Out Of The Night 

10. Rose Colored Glasses 

11. Evermore 

12. Set Us Free 

13. Lay Down Your Life 

14. Pieces of Heaven 

15. Is It Really Happening? 

16. Dancing With Eternal Glory/Whirlwind (Reprise)

Night 2 Tracklisting: 

1. Overture 

2. Reaching For The Sky 

3. Higher Than The Morning 

4. The Darkness In The Light 

5. Take Now My Soul 

6. Bully 

7. Rainbow Sky 

8. Looking For The Light

 9. The World We Used To Know 

10. The Sun Comes Up Today 

11. Love Made A Way (Prelude) 

12. Owl Howl 

13. Solitude 

14. Belong 

15. Lonesome Rebel 

16. Can You Feel It 

17. Looking For The Light (Reprise) 

18. The Greatest Story Never Ends 

19. Love Made A Way 

20. Bridge Across Forever

21. The Final Medley

SiX By SiX (featuring Ian Crichton, Nigel Glockler & Robert Berry) announce sophomore album ‘Beyond Shadowland’

Launch first single ‘The Arms Of A Word’

SiX By SiX, the progressive power trio comprising Ian Crichton (Saga), Nigel Glockler (Saxon) and Robert Berry (3.2), are pleased to announce the release of their sophomore album ‘Beyond Shadowland’ on InsideOutMusic on 26th April 2024. The band reconvened in Berry’s own Soundtek Studios in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2023 to bend, shape, hammer and caress their diverse musical talents into 11 impressive new tracks.  With this album, they continue to define and build upon their unique melodic space, welding guitar-driven rock, metal and prog into a unique and powerful sonic setting.

To coincide with the announcement of the new album, the band have released the first single ‘The Arms Of A Word’, a track which reflects on the division driven by a click-bait driven media. 

You can watch the brand new video here:

Ian Crichton comments: “On the new record we kept our style but have written stylistically some quite different tunes. I gave Robert a lot of parts, sections, licks, middle 8’s, etc. He added verses, bridges, etc… and vocals!  He’s a brilliant arranger. Of course, Nigel is a powerhouse. As always, he played great on this record.”

Nigel Glockler adds: “Playing with Ian and Robert is always terrific. Making this album was a productive time. Ultimately, we narrowed things down to eleven tunes. Good ones too!. I left the sessions feeling very pleased. I think everybody’s going to be impressed with the new album.”

Robert Berry continues: “I’ve always believed that music has the power to bring people together. This record is a testament to that notion. As always, working with Ian and Nigel on an actual second album was a moving experience for me.  Truly special.”

‘Beyond Shadowland’ will be available as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 180g Black 2LP (featuring 4 exclusive bonus tracks) & as a Digital Album. The artwork was once again created by Rob Fowler.

Pre-order now here:

Six By Six – The Arms of a Word (

The full tracklisting is as follows:

1.     Wren 

2.     The Arms of a Word  

3.     Can’t Live Like This  

4.     Obiliex

5.     Only You Can Decide  

6.     Titans 

7.     Outside Looking In  

8.     Spectre

9.     Sympathise  

10.  One Step

11.  The Mission

Vinyl-only bonus tracks:

1.     SiX By SiX Orchestra Medley

2.     The Arms of a Word (Instrumental)

3.     Honor Bridge

4.     The Mission (Instrumental)

The bands self-titled debut, released in 2022, established the trio as a power chord-driven celebration of artistry, passion and persistence. Prog Magazine said that the record was “exciting, often potent and demands repeated listens”, while Classic Rock Magazine called it “an inspired opening salvo that bubbles with chemistry.”


Ian Crichton is best known as one of the founding members of Saga, alongside his brother Jim. Saga went on to sell roughly 10 million albums world-wide and continue to perform around the world. As the driving force behind SiX By SiX, Ian takes a cunning turn, in assembling another potent band but one that focuses on his guitar prowess.  This time with established players, each with a celebrated past, refined skills, and unlimited potential.  

Band picture by Dave Lepori.

Nigel Glockler began his career in 1980 as the drummer for the British band Krakatoa. In 1981 he found an opportunity with singer Toyah.  By the end of the year, he joined metal legends, Saxon. Except for two brief absences, Nigel has been behind his massive drum kit as an integral part of Saxon ever since.His powerhouse drumming is the engine that drives SiX By SiX’s songs forwards relentlessly.

Robert Berry first gained international attention with San Francisco-based Hush, releasing well-received recordings and then touring the USA. In the mid-1980s Berry’s first solo album garnered positive reviews in the most influential trade publications and attracted the attention of several major labels. At the suggestion of one of those labels, Robert moved to the UK to work with guitarist Steve Howe (of Yes fame) along with drummer Nigel Glockler in an effort to revitalize GTR. When GTR stalled, Robert partnered with British rock legends Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form ‘3’.  With Emerson and Palmer, Robert achieved a top ten charting single and toured the USA. Robert’s melodic sensibilities complement Ian’s extraordinary guitar and Nigel’s signature drumming perfectly.

Review – Albion – Lakesongs Of Elbid

Albion is an archaic name for Great Britain used by classical scholars to refer to this cold and wet island. Some 2000 years later in 2019, four young whippersnappers dug up the ancient term to use as the name for their new band. At the foundation of this project would be the preservation and exposure of traditional folk music, but presented through the modern medium of metal and rock.

Two years after forming in 2019, Albion’s last extended release was 2021’s highly thematic and equally folk-inspired metal offering ‘Pryderi’, a continuous 25 minute 4-track EP that brought new fans from the folk metal subgenre and beyond tothe band, with all begging the question of when there would be a full length album.

Well, that day is now here, ‘Lakesongs Of Elbid’ was released on 27th January and features four singles previously released along with eight other unreleased tracks comprising a 70 minute exploration of traditional folk melody and instrumentation married with orchestral metal.

Albion were formed by current Jethro Tull guitarist Joe Parrish-James (vocals, guitar, flute, mandolin, programming) along with Jack Clark (backing vocals, guitar), Peter Szypulski (bass), and Mikey Ciancio (drums). ‘Lakesongs Of Elbid’ also sees Ollie Medlow provide additional drums and Miguel Vargas adds additional flute.

I was introduced to the band by Dutch music journalist, promoter and good friend of mine, Arne van Os van den Abeelen and then Joe reached out and the rest, as they say, is history…

I don’t think the phrase Folk Metal does this music any favours at all, there is so much more going on here and all of it is utterly addictive. Yes, there’s folk and there’s metal but there are so many other influences thrown into the melting pot too and it produces a sound that is pretty unique and very, very enjoyable to listen to. The flute, guitar and Joe’s day job could have you thinking ‘Tull’ at every juncture but it is merely an influence among many. I hear bit of Clannad (Robin, The Hooded Man anyone?), the thunderous guitars are almost Metallica-heavy at times and there is a definite progressive touch hidden in the depths. All these influences contribute to a very satisfying whole and a sound that very quickly becomes one you will associate with Albion.

The Lake Isle Of Innisfree does lull you into a false sense of security on the folk front with it’s acoustic guitar and Celtic leaning vocals but then the very catchy and edgy riff of the Arthurian Overture instrumental adds in classic 70’s hard rock and metal (think Magnum with their sword and sorcery album covers and songs), it is proud pomp and circumstance with flute (I did say Tull were one of the influences after all!) and the granite feeling drums just add to the majesty. Joe’s earnest vocals, delicate flute and an acoustic guitar open Pagan Spirit, one of my favourite tracks on the album, but it isn’t long before a crushing riff enters the fray and we are off on a energetic, fantastical romp with a definite medieval feel to the music. I’m a huge fantasy novel fan and I just feel this track could be a superb soundtrack to a sword and sorcery, dungeons and dragons movie. The Dream of Rhonabwy has an urgent, upbeat and almost funky feel to it with the fantastic guitar and drums adding to the elegant flute and Joe’s earnest vocal, I must also point out the dynamic bass playing of Peter Szypulski that drives everything on brilliantly and Miguel Vargas who adds some superb flute, aiding and abetting Joe. This is music you could hear playing as people are dancing to celebrate a pagan festival and it puts a huge grin on my face.

Llyn Cwm Llwch calms things down with its calm, wistful tone, it’s time is brief but it makes its presence known as it shimmers away delightfully. Okay, I’ll give you Finding Avalon as Folk Metal, but it’s Folk metal turned up to 11 with the hell for leather feel, compelling riff and symphonic metal keys. A potent, driving yarn of glories of the past and a song that is totally addictive with its hooks and riff that gets under your skin. Medieval folk is represented by the charming wonder of the flute driven instrumental Canens (Maya), a captivating musical representation of a dance around the maypole. Sit back and just enjoy the next track, Albion’s folk rock take on the popular sea shanty Barrett’s Privateers by the late, great Canadian singer Stan Rogers, featuring superb backing vocals from Rhiannon Parrish-James. Powerful riffs and statuesque drums drive this engaging track along and, in my opinion, all sea shantys should be done like this!

Black Lake (Llyn Y Fan Fach) opens with a more subdued, thoughtful and melancholy tone with Joe’s hushed vocal and the subtle acoustic guitar before erupting into something more emotive and stirring as the heavy riff and potent drums chime in. This clever piece of music then ebbs and flows between the hushed and the strident and Joe delivers a great solo, another fine song from these talented musicians. Llyn Y Fan Fawr is another impressive instrumental that flows stylishly with an influential guitar and glorious flute at the heart and soul of the track as its soars and descends with grace and power. Silvaplana Rock is another one of my favourites, opening with an almost harpsichord vibe before one of the most catchy riffs you’ve ever heard fires up, add in the ever impressive drums and bass and we are off on a flyer! More of an 80’s rock/metal track with some folk influences, it drives along at a hectic pace but never loses control, another fine piece in a musical jigsaw that is both influential and impressive. The last track is the gorgeous acoustic piece, Camlann, a wistful, nostalgic feeling song. Joe’s pensive vocal adds to the contemplative, forlorn feel of the flute and the somber tone is only enhanced by the delicate, gossamer edge to the acoustic guitar. A beautiful, if sad feeling piece of music that brings things to a distinguished close.

With ‘Lakesongs Of Elbid’, Albion have created an immersive, almost hypnotic collection of songs that is like listening to the stories of old, sung by travelling bards as they travelled the lands. Allow yourself to be drawn into its embrace and you will enjoy seventy minutes of wonder and music that will not only take your breath away but your heart and mind too…

Released 27th January, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

Lakesongs of Elbid | Albion (

RIVERSIDE – Announce UK/Ireland Tour

Support from Klone (Unplugged) / Launch “Making of ID.Entity” documentary online

Poland’s pioneering and leading Progressive Rock band RIVERSIDE are pleased to announce a UK/Ireland tour in support of their latest studio album “ID.Entity”, released last year via InsideOutMusic.

RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda checked in with the following comment:

“We’re coming back! We remember the fantastic shows in the UK and Ireland in the spring of 2023. Because we haven’t visited the Islands too often since the ‘Wasteland’ tour, we will return with our biggest UK/Ireland tour to date. We’d be very happy to meet you all (again). So before we close the chapter on ‘ID.Entity’ and take a break, come join us!”

 RIVERSIDE’s UK/Ireland tour will feature Klone as special guests with a special “unplugged” set. Klone’s Guillaume Bernard adds:

We are really happy to share the stage with Riverside on this UK/Ireland tour. We are very excited to play in great venues, like the amazing KOKO in London, where we played 12 years ago with Gojira.  This time we will play ‘unplugged’ versions of our songs, but be sure that it will sound huge and heavy!”

RIVERSIDE – United Kingdom / Ireland Tour 2024
+ Special Guests KLONE (‘Unplugged’)

12.05.2024 Norwich (UK) – Epic Studios

13.05.2024 Birmingham (UK) – 02 Institute 1

15.05.2024 Belfast (UK) – Limelight 1

16.05.2024 Dublin (UK) – Academy

18.05.2024 Glasgow (UK) – The Old Fruit Market

19.05.2024 London (UK) – Koko

20.05.2024 Bristol (UK) – SWX

21.05.2024 Manchester (UK) – 02 Ritz

Tickets on sale tomorrow morning:

Riverside – Gigs (

Previous to this tour, RIVERSIDE will be performing in North America and Latin America as well appearing on several festival events in the summer as follows:

RIVERSIDE – Live 2024:

08.03.2024 Port Canaveral (USA) – Cruise To The Edge Festival

15.03.2024 Guadalajara (Mexico) – C3 Stage

17,03.2024 Monterrey (Mexico) – Café Iguana

19.03.2024 Mexico City (Mexico) – Auditorio Blackberry

21.03.2024 Bogotá (Colombia) – Teatro Astor Plaza

23.03.2024 San José (Costa Rica) – Pepper Club

28.03.2024 Buenos Aires (Argentina) – Groove

03.04.2024 São Paulo (Brazil) – Carioca Club

06.04.2024 Santiago (Chile) – Teatro Caupolicán

01.06.2024 Warsaw (Poland) – Torwar Hall

05-08.06.2024 Sölvesborg (Sweden) – Sweden Rock Festival

19-22.06.2024 Murcia (Spain) – Rock Imperium Festival

28-30.06.2024 Helsinki (Finland) – Tuska Festival

18-21.07.2024 Jarocin (Poland) – Jarocin Festival

19.07.2024 Sankt Goarshausen (Germany) – Night Of The Prog Festival

07-10.08.2024 Jaroměř (Czech Republic) – Brutal Assault

16.08.2024 Carhaix-Plouguer (France) – Motocultor Festival

And many more shows to be announced soon…

Tickets: Riverside – Gigs (

Most recently, RIVERSIDE have launched their “Making of ‘ID.Entity'” documentary, directed by Marcin Zawadziński. The documentary was screened a year ago at RIVERSIDE’s promotional meetings in Helios cinemas in Poland for the release of their latest studio album “’ID.Entity’ and now everyone will finally be able to watch it online, everywhere. 

Check it out here:

“ID.Entity”, the group’s 8th studio album was recorded and mixed in two studios – The Boogie Town Studio in Otwock with Paweł Marciniak and in Serakos studio in Warsaw with Magda and Robert Srzedniccy -, mastered by Robert Szydło and produced by RIVERSIDE’s Mariusz Duda himself. The “ID.Entity” artwork was created by Polish artist Jarek Kubicki.

“ID.Entity” achieved the following outstanding chart positions upon release: Germany: # 4, Poland: # 2, Switzerland: # 6, The Netherlands: # 9, Finland: # 14, Austria: # 22, Belgium: # 97, France: # 155, UK: # 89, UK / Rock Charts: # 3, USA / Top New Artist Albums: # 7, USA / Current Album Sales: # 61, USA / Hard Music Albums: # 9, USA / Current Rock Albums: # 20.

Check out the singles/videos off “ID.Entity” here:

“I’m Done With You”:

“Self-Aware (Single Edit)”:

“Friend or Foe? (Single Edit)”:

And also check out two interesting videos in which the RIVERSIDE band members chat about “ID.Entity”:

About “ID.Entity” Pt. 1:

About “ID.Entity” Pt. 2:

Can still order “ID.Entity” in its various formats here:

Or here:

And check out a YouTube playlist of visualizer clips for the entire album’s material here:

RIVERSIDE line-up:

Michał Łapaj – keyboards and Hammond Organ
Mariusz Duda – vocal, bass
Maciej Meller – guitar
Piotr Kozieradzki – drums

Jo Beth Young Announces New Album – ‘Broken Spells’ – Pre-Orders Open Now, Release Date 1st March, 2024.

An ethereal, powerful and emotional expedition in the art of breaking spells personally and collectively, BROKEN SPELLS is the eagerly anticipated 3rd album from acclaimed UK Neo-Folk artist Jo Beth Young (formerly Talitha Rise/RISE). 

Welcome to a world of electro-folk, dreamy, progressive and sometimes gut punching tracks from Neo-folk singer/songwriter and musician Jo Beth Young. ‘Broken Spells’ does not shy away from diving straight into difficult and deeper themes such as overcoming narcissistic abuse (Wolf Song) the lies that lead a soldier into war (Lazuli) spiritual warfare (Adversity) a collective book-of-revelations-style warning (Burning) themes of guilt and wrongdoing for an upcoming film soundtrack (Standstill) and ultimate truths being revealed in (Ockham’s Razor) to name a few.  

Over the four years she spent making it, Jo Beth went from “confirmed life-long” pagan and non dualist to a born again Christian, a radical journey she says can be heard in the songs as they unfold.  

Jo Beth says: “I think I was questioning absolutely everything in life when I started this album. What was happening in the media, the government, the World and to us as beings. I  was also looking into what was happening inside of me. This meant asking myself deep questions such as whether for all my beliefs I was a good person? Had I been corrupted in any way? Did I need to purify my intentions in life? Looking at the World I started asking, does evil really exist? And if it does, does that mean the opposite must also exist and be true?” 

“I started to see that there was something bigger than personal and physical conflict going on, that there was indeed a bigger spiritual war at play. I came to realise that spells are everywhere. When we believe anything we’re told or is spoken over our life, that is a spell in itself. I was exploring how I could break these? How we could find truth and clarity? I think that’s really the living impetus behind the songs; Seeking truth and breaking strongholds and illusions.

Pre-order the album here:

Broken Spells – JO BETH YOUNG

Unlike anything Jo Beth has attempted before, this record has her hand in it from conception to mixing and features stunning performances from regular contributors Peter Yates on Guitars (Fields Of The Nephillim) Ben Roberts on Cello (Silver Moth/Prosthetic Head) Jules Bangs on Bass (Herija) as well as a guest appearances from her Nightsong colleague John Reed (Steel Guitar) and band member Jay Newton (Abrasive Trees) on Piano.  

Along with her diverse and accomplished vocals (which are very much forefront) Jo Beth plays a multitude of instruments on the record, from acoustic and electric guitars, pianos, keys and synths, bowed guitars, home made percussion and field recordings including a recording of her washing machine in ‘Kinder Sea’. This time she experiments with loops and beats with the help of another long term collaborator; Alpujarra based Producer and Musician Matt Blackie (Spain). 

The whole project was recorded on her laptop in the attic of her home at the time in the West of Ireland. Jo Beth was turned down for a grant to finish the record over 5 times, forcing her to  mix the last of it herself; an endeavour she was surprised to take on. 

Jo Beth says: “I thought ‘Strangers’ was a very DIY record but this one has absolutely no studio hours in it at all and is very home made. Perhaps the most ambitious bit of ‘bedroom’ recording yet. They say necessity is the mother of invention and  I’ve become fond of the imperfections of the record caused by the situation. For instance on ‘Kinder Sea’ you can hear the old electric meter running through my guitar amp at the intro, a situation I couldn’t remedy so left in!”

For all it’s DIY creation, Broken Spells is potentially Jo Beth Young’s strongest work yet; An accomplished set of cinematic, dreamy, powerful, hypnotic and deeply thought provoking songs that lead the listener from darkness to the light. 

The album single ‘Standstill’ will be released at the same time as the album on March 1st 2024. 

After her 2023 Shadow Navigation Show Tour, Jo Beth will be performing a few select UK dates later in 2024 tba via her website. 

Pre-order ‘Broken Spells’ Here:

Broken Spells – JO BETH YOUNG

Review – Matt Steady – Presence – by John Wenlock-Smith

This was actually released back in 2023 so this review is probably a little overdue now but, still, it is definitely worthy of a review in my opinion.

I came across Matt Steady’s music through an advert on Facebook in which he was offering an albums worth of his Celtic Prog guitar works, a sampler of his earlier albums that also included two tracks lifted from this release, ‘Presence’. This sampler was mine for the price of postage, however, what made this album appeal to me was the endorsements of Dave Brons (whose albums I have previously reviewed) and also of Dave Bainbridge, both of whom had very positive things to say about Matt’s music. Positive proof that people do value the opinions of those they respect, this made this free album offer more enticing and so I opted to listen for myself.

Matt is an interesting fellow, he is by day a foster carer, which he does in conjunction with his wife, with Matt being the main carer. This is, of itself, a very laudable calling, however ,despite having a house full of children, in between this activity he creates his own music, which ranges in style between Celtic and folk, along with blues and heavy rock. I received the sampler and thoroughly enjoyed it, I talked to Matt and offered to review it for Progradar. Matt said that it was a sampler and asked would I review his latest album, ‘Presence’, instead, which is when I found out that it was a recent, 2023, release.

That is the long way of telling you about this review, ‘Presence’ is a ten track, fully instrumental, album of mood music. That said, it is not mere background music, rather this is a more emotional type of music, music that connects with you and makes you feel something. That is the aim at the heart of the album,

The album begins with a stunning guitar instrumental called Deep Calls To Deep, which has an excellent melody line. The track opens with epic keyboard swathes and percussion before a sinewy guitar line is added that bleeds emotion. This line just ascends and soars in a very recognisable style of a certain Gilmour chap, making for an epic instrumental opening salvo and sets the listener up for some feelings in the music. It is all very well done and the playing is excellent, quite what emotion this track conveys is not entirely clear, I suspect it is love, a very deep love though. Constant is a slightly eastern mystical sounding track, emotively it shows perseverance or patience. Again, this track has some excellent guitar playing throughout, swift flurries of notes over a constantly shifting rhythm pattern, all very impressive sounding indeed. Espresso has an interesting opening part full of burbling synths followed by another strong and fluid guitar line with a lovely tone to it, very clear and pronounced. Again the emotion it seeks to convey is not fully clear, although it sounds fantastic anyway.

Next up is Reign which may be representative of power. This piece has a somewhat suppressed guitar tone, like it is being held back somehow. It is a great tone though, which is what it is all about, as any guitarist will tell you, it’s all about the tone you get and apply in your sound and, well, this track has oceans of tone! Perforate has a funky groove and guitar fills. Matt gets some great sounds on this track, I love the funky groove and the ending solo, delivered by Dave Brons, is excellent. Uprising has a strong thrust and some great keyboards, it has a very muscular feel to it which suggests the emotion is overcoming adversity and being resilient and strong in the face of oppression, again this track really makes an impact. Foundation implies strength in a relationship and life in general. Emotion oozes throughout the track which has Terl Bryant’s drums thundering away throughout, giving a very solid base from which Matt can fly free and he does that remarkably well and fluidly.

Jelly Babies is the next track and, again, the emotion is unclear but I suspect it is joy as the track is fairly joyful in nature. Reed is the penultimate track and this one suggests resilience and letting life flow over and around you without breaking your spirit. In fact, the whole album suggests a kind of spirituality that offers hope and comfort when needed. Matt plays a violin part in the early section before switching to a fiery electric guitar solo, it sounds very epic indeed, a very strong track overall. The final piece is Sunrise and it has another stirring guitar line. This track suggests gratitude for another day of living and also for all that are around us, it is a lovely and fitting conclusion for an amazing album of moods.

There is some real graceful and empathetic music on offer here, it is a collection of tracks that will lift your spirits and provide sustenance in times of need. This self-released album has some rather excellent performances and stirring music in its short, forty minute, duration.

I really like it, and you can get it for yourself direct from the artist at the link below, as well as ‘The Dragons Refrain’ sampler.

Release 2nd September, 2023.

Order direct from the artists here:

Order from bandcamp here:

Presence | Matt Steady (\

Behind ‘The Likes Of Us, An In-Depth Interview With Big Big Train’s Greg Spawton

I caught up with Big Big Train’s de facto leader Greg Spawton for a highly enjoyable chat ahead of the release of the band’s highly anticipated new album and a tour which, for the first time, takes in multiple venues across the US, as well as Europe and, of course, the UK.

Progradar: Do you think that ‘The Likes of Us’, while generally moving away from the historical stories of past BBT albums, still has a strong link with the band’s past?

Greg: Yes, I think it does, we were pretty keen not to try and reinvent the wheel with this album. The most important thing to us was to absolutely make sure it was us at the top of our game. One of the issues we had during the covid era when all of the touring gets cancelled was, what do you do now? make an album! and I think that one of the problems for us was that we were almost pushed into the album thing without having a masterplan for the two albums that we made in that time and I’m very much a person who likes a masterplan for albums.

I don’t like albums that are just an accumulation of songs, it needs to be an entity in its own right. There were two things, firstly with the terrible tragedy that we’ve been through, and the new singer in Alberto (Bravin), we knew it had to be us at the top of our game, secondly we needed to make sure we thought about it, planned it and made an holistic album that works as an entity rather than just a collection of tunes.

Progradar: It’s a proper ‘old school’ album where you would listen to it from start to finish. It’s not a Spotify album where you just pick and choose the odd tracks to listen to.

Greg: That’s exactly right! I listen to Spotify etc. myself but I like to be drawn in to a recording. The great albums, ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, ‘Selling England By The Pound’, albums like that, you put them on, maybe you only intend to listen to a couple of songs, you almost can’t help yourself and they pull you in because they’re so well paced and constructed thematically. You just can’t help yourself and that is what we were trying to do with this one for sure.

Progradar: While the last few albums have all been veery good, to me, ‘The Likes Of Us’ has taken the band back to the heights of ‘The Underfall Yard’ and the ‘English Electric’ duo of releases, do you feel that you are firing on all cylinders and pushing that creativity again?

Greg: To be honest, I think we’re in a battle for survival, David (Longdon) was my musical brother, he was a hugely well loved character and an incredible singer and songwriter. You can’t lose a character like that without potentially losing the heart and soul of the band so, therefore, for us to try to do what we’re trying to do, to carry on and keep the heart of the band going, it is a battle for survival. I think that we can thrive and survive, I am very proud of this album, we sought to look at albums like the ones you mentioned (‘The Underfall Yard’ etc.), learn from what we did then and try and make sure that’s where we are.

One of the things that’s been really beneficial for me is Alberto’s attitude to this. This is a big deal for him as well, he was singing in Italy’s biggest progressive rock band, Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM), he wasn’t one of the older guys in the band, he wasn’t leading the band like he is in Big Big Train. It’s a big step for him and the way he’s put his heart and soul into it, the way he’s following in David’s footsteps without trying to be another David, on all those things, his judgment’s been very sound all the way through.

He’s had a huge impact on this album with songwriting and he’s mixed it with Rob Aubrey as well, that’s taken a big burden off my shoulders, I’ve been carrying this load for a long time. Without David I was kind of frightened that it would be just me, NDV (Nick D’Virgilio) and Rikard (Sjöblom) carrying the burden but we’ve got Alby, we’ve got Clare and Oskar, we’ve got the people that we need to keep things moving forward.

Progradar: Do you feel that the release of the album and the forthcoming tour is bringing the cathartic process to a close after David’s death?

Greg: It will never completely go away and neither should it, I still think of David every single day and I’m sure I always will. Grief is an interesting thing, time doesn’t heal but time certainly helps the scars close over a little bit. I think the thing with me, NDV and Rikard, the three that have been in the band the longest, we were thinking what else can we do, almost, we had that conversation about whether or not it’s right to continue or whether or not WE want to continue.

We’ve all put our hearts and souls into this, as David did, so we felt that we owed it to ourselves, and also to the memory of David, to try to carry on but what we didn’t want to was just to carry on and try to be David again. It had to be on our terms with a new singer who brought his own thing, his own talents in to it, so that’s how we’ve tried to move forward. Yes, it has been a cathartic experience but it will never completely go away, it just never will.

Big Big Train | Trieste, May 2023 | ph Massimo Goina

Progradar: The current line up seems extremely strong, does it have the longevity of the classic line-up and does it feel strange to be the last original member of the band?

Greg: It does feel strange in that respect, I’m the ‘old guy’ in the band from every aspect, I’m the oldest band member and I’m also the last person from the original line up, there’s also NDV from the re-booted line-up of 2009 of course. I don’t know how it makes me feel to be honest, I’m still carrying the torch for the band. The main thing is, does the music have integrity, does it still carry the hearts and souls and passions? it sounds like a pat answer but it has to have integrity.

I think you can sniff it, sniff if a band is either coasting or doesn’t have integrity in what they’re doing and I think that, on this album, the attention to detail, you can hear how carefully we crafted the material. People might come along and say that their affection for the band’s previous personnel is such that they can’t really go with the new line up, that’s fine, that’s up to them but I hope that they will at least listen and, if they do go, okay, that may not be for me but the band’s got integrity and it’s kept its soul.

Progradar: I think what you were saying there about integrity harks back to the Spotify generation. I use Spotify, 99% of the time for my running playlists but, if someone mentions to me or points out a record, things aren’t cheap anymore and I like buying vinyl. Therefore I’m not going to lay out £30 or £40 on something I haven’t heard, I will check it out on Spotify first and if I like it, then I’ll go buy it! There are certain artists who I have a history with, Big Big Train for instance, and I will buy most things they release without having heard the music.

Greg: I’m no different, there are a handful of bands whose music I will just buy, for a sense of loyalty, a sense of supporting them, Elbow is a good example. I will always buy their records, I haven’t connected as much with the last couple of records they’ve release as I have with some of their earlier stuff but I’ll still support them because they mean something to me as part of my being really.

I’m like you, I use Spotify as a sampling device, it’s a great way of just checking something out. There’s a wall of music out there now, especially for someone like you and the work you do in progressive rock, you must be inundated with stuff. You can’t not use Spotify to check things out otherwise you just end up going bankrupt frankly!

Progradar: Has signing with InsideOut put any requirements on you as a band where, before, the whole creative process and release was controlled by yourselves?

Greg: We signed with them cautiously, it was a big deal for me to actually to become a ‘grown up’ band and sign but they’ve been brilliant. I was so used to us being completely in control of our destiny and that was the fear, that we would lose some degree of control, they’ve been fantastic though. The thing is, Freddy (Palmer) and Thomas Waber, they knew who they were signing so they know what Big Big Train is all about, it’s that 70’s progressive rock vibe, historical songs, that sort of thing. They fully understand it and they understand our back story, that we’ve been used to doing things ourselves.

They’ve been incredibly respectful, will tell us what they think is right and, at the end of the day, they will make the decisions but they listen to us. I feel totally in partnership with them and they want us to do well, it helps them, as well as us, if we do well. InsideOut is part of Sony Music and Sony Japan have got completely behind the album and have had it all translated into Japanese, really pushing us there and maybe, someday, we’ll get out to Japan. We’re delighted with the relationship, people slag record labels off, sometimes for good reason but I couldn’t speak more highly of InsideOut.

Progradar: You said that Alberto has been brought into BBT not just as a vocalist but, also, for his musical skills and songwriting ability. Has this given an extra dimension when you create new music now or has he seamlessly filled the gap left by David?

Greg: I’ve got to the stage in my life where I’ve been through a couple of terrible tragedies recently, David passed away and my stepfather has had a nine month illness which killed him, you read about how dreadful long term illnesses can be and end of life care at the extreme end of that. I’ve been through a couple of very traumatic things in terms of the people around me that I love so I try to find things in life that are positive because I’ve been though so much that has been negative.

One of the positives is the relationship that I have developed with Alberto, he’s become a very dear friend, we’ve been writing songs together, we talk all the time. When we’re on the tour bus he and I get up early in the morning and we go for a walk together and we go and investigate things. We were at a museum, in Copenhagen I think it was, and we were bouncing ideas off each other about what we were seeing there. He’s very much become a musical soulmate and that’s not to diminish in any way, shape or form the relationship I had with David.

I just feel blessed, absolutely blessed, that I’ve got another person in my life, It’s a different relationship but it’s also a very important one. The relationships I’ve got with Rikard and NDV and all the others have all been important to me and I do need those people around me, I’m not a Steven Wilson, I need to bounce things off other people and discuss things with those around me to make the most of what I can do.

Progradar: It is the band’s first tour of the US, was that a difficult thing to organise logistically and how much are you looking forward to playing in the US?

Greg: Logistically everything is difficult to organise with Big Big Train! Along with all the other complexities of having an American drummer, a Swedish guitar player and all the rest, I then go and choose an Italian singer! Our manager was going, oh my god, no, please! It makes everything really hard and more expensive but you’ve got to go with the people you think are the right people to work with and every decision that’s been made with regard to the personnel in the band has been a good call and we’re multi-national and it’s expensive.

The States is a nightmare, it’s a nightmare because the United States government don’t make it easy for bands to get out there and most bands at our level can’t afford to do it, we can only just about afford to do it. As it did during the Covid era, it’s cost us something like ten thousand pounds in visas and also there’s the bureaucratic rigmarole to go up to the embassies and stuff like that. It’s not to be undertaken lightly, we’re going to lose money on that tour, ticket sales are kind of okay, they’re not amazing.

The States is a huge place, us Europeans, we all know it’s a continent but we still struggle to get our heads around quite how much of a continent it is! You’re not dealing with the UK, you’re dealing, effectively, with something the size of Europe and with all the challenges that gives you. It’s a big thing for us but all I can do is look back on the 70’s bands like Genesis, one of the stories I remember is that they played New York and they went down great, they thought they’d conquered America, of course, they hadn’t even started, they’d just dipped their toe in the water in one city in a huge country.

We’re going to try and go through that process if we can, the visas last for a year so, if we can, we’re going to try and get there twice in the year and see how it goes. We need to build the audience across the world, I have to be honest with you, my hunch is that the Cruise (To The Edge) is going to be just as important to playing the States in itself because I think most of the fans on the cruise are American so, hopefully, they enjoy us and go back and spread the word a bit.

Progradar: The band has always had a strong and supportive following in the UK, does playing live in the UK almost feel comfortable now? if that’s the right word?

Greg: The UK is definitely our biggest fanbase so it’s easy to connect with, it’s still very patchy though. We put the tour out there yesterday and it certainly looks like within a week or two the Manchester show will be sold out and Milton Keynes will be sold out but some of the others haven’t sold many tickets at all yet. Obviously, we’ve got a plan over the next six months to sell a lot more tickets, so we hope to get a number of shows sold out, we’ve got to reach regions in the UK that we haven’t been to before, we’re trying to do that. On the continent, we’ve only played one show in Italy, which is bonkers! We need to get there as well.

The truth is, the future of the band has to be an international thing, we need to be able to play across the world, we have to have listeners across the world because the progressive rock audience is dedicated, it’s hardcore but it’s thinly spread, unquestionably it is thinly spread. If we were a prog-metal band, I think we’d be able to access a bigger audience more easily but with the sort of music that we play, sort of 70’s style prog, it’s definitely harder. The UK is a great place to build from but we’ve got to spread the word across the world.

Progradar: Where is your favourite venue to play live?

Greg: My favourite so far has been Loreley because of the scale and the ‘prog’, when you’re on the stage, if a dragon flew past it wouldn’t surprise you! I also love the Boerderij, the Boerderij is brilliant, we’re doing a weekend residency there, so those two venues. The Boerderij is great because it is a brilliant, purpose built venue, the staff there are fantastic supporters of prog rock and the fans come out.

Progradar: Have you already started the creative process for the next album or are concentrating on this one (‘The Likes Of Us’) first?

Greg: No, we have, there’s lots of conversations about when we’re going to record it and where, as you know, this one was recorded in a room together, we’re going to do the same thing with the next album. There’s talk of it being a concept, or part of it will be a concept album, the management are a little wary about that, they’re like, please don’t do that!

We may smuggle in a bit of a concept, maybe half a concept album and then finish it off, I don’t know, we’re still talking about it. There’s lots of writing going on and I’m delighted that Rikard has written a nice long, chunky piece of music, we’re all looking forward to getting our teeth into it and it’s going to be a good thing.

Progradar: What do you see as the future of the band with all the talk about streaming and people not buying physical product as much anymore? I see BBT as a ‘physical’ band and have all the vinyl, you could say that this grates with the Spotify culture?

Greg: There’s definitely a clash of cultures there, the interesting thing is that the record companies own a significant proportion of the streaming sites so they know that’s the future, realistically. I just hope it can be a future that can incorporate the value of physical product, alongside the value of the ease of streaming.

I think the future for us in the next two or three years is we’re going to gig hard but I hope ‘The Likes Of Us’ is a successful album in terms of sales. We’ve had a couple of Top 40 albums in the UK and I think if we can sneak back into the Top 40 then I think it will feel like we’ve got momentum again. There’s a line in the album, ‘make the most of the light left in the day’ which is what we’re trying to do.

Progradar: I think it deserves to be a success, I think it’s up there with ‘The Underfall Yard’ and the ‘English Electric’ albums, I really do!

Greg: Thank you, it’s important, your word carries weight for people that aren’t sure. I’ve read a couple of responses to your review where people are saying, ‘that’s interesting, you obviously really believe in this album’. The reviews are important.

Progradar: Do you have a favourite track on the album or is that like asking you who is your favourite child?

Greg: It’s hard for me to answer that, on different days, different tracks hit me differently. Sometimes I get a big lift from a certain track, sometimes I get a bit of a wobbly lip from other tracks. I’m wimping out but I genuinely can’t say which of the eights track is my favourite.

Progradar; I find it very similar for myself, there’s times when it’s Beneath The Masts, because I love a prog epic but when I was listening to it as I was writing the review, the one that really stood out for me was, well there’s two, I love Love Is The Light, it’s up there with Curator Of Butterflies, in my opinion and then the other one that really hit me was Light Left In The Day. It’s a brilliant opening track, it’s just everything that I feel is brilliant about Big Big Train in one song.

Greg: Yes, it (Light Left In The Day) came together really well, it’s mostly written by Alby. It’s clever, he’s brought together most of the album motifs, which is a really difficult job to do and I added a little bit at the top of it, the ‘tailenders’ thing.

I think what I like about that is that is does set out our stall, you get a bit of 12 string and a vocal, so you hear Alby right at the top and then you get the brass band coming in and it’s like, whoa! there’s a little bit of warmth comes in.

I think the Big Big Train fans of old will be thinking, okay, I’m on steady ground here, and then you get this four minutes of kind of showy musicianship which a prog band does, like an overture thing. I agree, it’s a good starter, it kicks the album off well.

Progradar: Just one last question, recommend me an album that you like, that you are listening to at the moment?

Greg: Okay, I can do, a recent one, an album by The Twenty Committee.

Progradar: I think I wrote the first review of that!

Greg: Fantastic! I really, really like them, Geoffrey Langley is their main guy in the band. In fact, I said to him it reminds me a bit of the band UK and I don’t think he was particularly aware of UK. It’s got some fusion chops in it, he’s a really talented guy, that’s the album I’d recommend. I could say that Radiohead offshoot band but, no, this is a younger band as well, this is a fantastic album, I’m glad you asked that and I’m glad I get to mention them because I think they need to start making waves.

Progradar: So that concludes the questions, hopefully we’ll be able to catch up on the tour, I’m attending the Whitley Bay gig, thanks for your time, I really appreciate it.

Greg: Fantastic, we’ll definitely catch up there and, no problem, it’s been great to chat again.

‘The Likes Of Us’ is released on 1st March, 2024 and can be ordered here:

Big Big Train – Miramare (Single Edit) (

The band hit the road for the US, Europe and UK on 1st March, 2024 and tickets can be ordered here:

Live – Big Big Train

You can read my review of ‘The Likes Of Us’ here:

Review – Big Big Train – The Likes Of Us – Progradar

Review – Big Big Train – The Likes Of Us

“Transitions are a part of life, allowing for perpetual renewal. When you experience the end of one chapter, allow yourself to feel the emotions of loss and rebirth. A bud gives way to a new flower, which surrenders to the fruit, which gives rise to a seed, which yields a new sprout. Even as you ride the roller coaster, embrace the centred internal reference of the ever-present witness.” ~ David Simon

I’ve been a fan of Big Big Train since David Longdon first sang on their seminal album ‘The Underfall Yard’ in 2009 and they began that run of English pastoral progressive rock classics that continued with the two ‘English Electric’ volumes (released 2012 and 2013 respectively) and ‘Folklore’, released in 2016. In fact, I’ll never forget going to the launch of ‘Folklore’ at the Real World Studios in Box, Wiltshire, an amazing weekend of music and friendship that cemented my affection for this wonderful band.

The unexpected loss of David in late 2021 put a cloud over the band and their future but one that has gradually lifted with the announcement of Alberto Bravin as the new lead vocalist and the rebirth of the band has come full circle with the release of ‘The Likes Of Us’, Big Big Train’s fifteenth studio album. This new album is the internationally-based group’s first full collection of songs since David Longdon passed away. Besides marking the debut of new frontman Alberto, a former member of the Italian band Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM for short), it also heralds the beginning of a new relationship with the Sony Music imprint InsideOut, the group having self-released their music via a label called English Electric for almost two decades.

Since his appointment in the springtime of 2022, Bravin has become more than just a lead singer for Big Big Train. His name appears in the writing credits against five of the eight numbers featured on ‘The Likes Of Us’, and in a massive departure for the group Alberto also stepped up to co-mix the album along with the band’s longstanding engineer Rob Aubrey. Drummer Nick D’Virgillio and co-founding bassist Gregory Spawton had seen Bravin performing with PFM several years ago. Aware that the affable Italian seemed potentially to have the voice to make things work within the context of BBT, Spawton noted his name for his own possible future solo project. However, amid the process of his appointment, little or no discussion took place over what else Alberto might bring to the table beyond the fact that he also played keyboards and guitar.

“I reached out to Alberto purely as a vocalist, not as a songwriter or a friend, but he has become all of those things,” Spawton comments. “I always need somebody to bounce ideas off, and for the second time in my life, after David, I have another musical companion. Finding Alberto, who pays respect to the band’s traditions but also brings his own ideas and amazing energy, has been a miracle. I’m incredibly blessed.”

“I had no idea whether or not the guys would be interested in the other things that I felt I was capable of doing,” Bravin adds. “But luckily they did, and everything has progressed so naturally. Like Greg, I too have sought a musical partner all my life. I’m proud of the two albums I did with my previous band [PFM] and write a lot, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do something like this. Together with this extraordinary group of people I think we have made a beautiful album.”

“Initially, I wasn’t sure whether carrying on [after Longdon’s passing] was the right thing to do, though David and I knew each other so well that we did actually have a conversation during which he told me that should anything happen to him, the band had to continue,” Spawton relates sadly. “BBT was a big part of David’s musical life and it was his wish that the songs he wrote should continue to be heard. We will never forget David; it goes without saying that he is a big part of our story.

“But,” he continues, “had Alby been even only a little bit different [from Longdon] then I’m not sure that it would have been possible. It just might not have worked.”

“Step up to the mark, Make the most, Of the light, Left in the day.”

It’s a magical moment for me as the delicate vocal begins to open Light Left In The Day, a mainly instrumental album opener that sees the every so classy brass section join in as the music gently washes over you. The calm of the opening then gives way to symphonic crescendo of guitar, keys, drums and bass along with brass flourishes as we are treated to an utterly uplifting piece of music that is definitively Big Big Train at their absolute magnificent best. Honestly, tears of emotion threatened to overwhelm me at what I was listening to, the repeated keyboard motif, what an utterly marvellous way to open the album.

“Life was never easy, Walking uphill, Turning his cheek, It became his best skill, Was it something he said, Or could have done? Fade into oblivion.”

Oblivion is a powerful statement of musical intent, the bombastic opening with a crushing guitar riff, thunderous drums and Greg’s stylish bass knocks you off your feet and then Alberto’s vocal begins, this man can really sing, he has a distinctive vocal style of his own but, somewhere in the back of your mind, you feel a little bit of David Longdon’s emphasis in his delivery, a smile and a nod to carrying the torch onward. Then it’s gone, just a fleeting moment, the harmonised chorus is a delight and the fantastic musicianship is all that is good about this band, Dave Foster’s guitar work is intricate and yet dynamic at the same time, this is a song that shows a group of highly talented musicians in perfect harmony and they deliver a track that is potent and moving at the same time.

“On the streets far below, Car lights dance as workers journey home, One last time we sat alone, Words unsaid remain unspoken.”

Victorian Brickwork, The Underfall Yard, East Coast Racer, Curator Of Butterflies, Brooklands, these are all song titles that every BBT fan will instantly recognise, classic epics which the band have become synonymous with and which always bring the house down when played live. You can now add Beneath The Masts to that list, a song cast in BBT’s time-honoured storytelling style. Greg was born in Sutton Coldfield, in the midlands of the UK, and close to where he grew up there exist two huge radio masts.

“For the best part of my youth they were there, lights blinking on and off, to the backdrop of my early formative years,” he explains. In later years the bassist moved to the south coast of England, and it wasn’t until returning to the area of his childhood that the subject of the two masts returned to his consciousness.

“That visit, to see my beloved stepfather who was suffering from a terminal illness, triggered the song,” Spawton explains. “The hospice in which he was being treated was between those masts. Being tethered to the ground, I realised they are symbolic of my Midlands roots,” he continues. “It’s a sad song but it has a surprisingly upbeat ending that reminds us we are always part of a bigger whole.”

It’s a wonderful seventeen minutes plus of wistful, sepia-tinged nostalgic storytelling that instantly draws you into Greg’s world, the tender music and Alberto’s softly emotive vocal just add drama to the song. Clare Lindley really gets to shine on this track, her violin playing is utterly sublime but then again, every single one of these musicians is adding their own skill to the complete whole. As in the best BBT epics, the song builds slowly, adding layers of musicality all the time. This isn’t just music, it is art, there is huge skill involved in creating something as good as this, adding wonder for the listener, taking you on a fantastic musical journey with every twist and turn. I hope Alberto Bravin doesn’t mind me saying this but, while not sounding directly like David Longdon, his vocal performance here really does bring back to mind that incredible vocalist and also conflicting emotions but it is happiness that wins over the sadness and I’m sure David would be really proud of Alberto. Again, Dave Foster delivers some incendiary guitar playing and the brass section send shivers down your spine once more. Greg’s stylish bass playing, Nick’s dynamic drumming, Oskar Holldorf and Rikard Söjblom both adding keys and more emotive guitar, it’s all there and, as this quite wonderful piece of music comes to a close, I don’t mind admitting that there is a tear in my eye, bravo to you all!

Big Big Train | Trieste, May 2023 | ph Massimo Goina

“It’s time to get your skates on, We’re only here for so long, Time to get your skates on, We’re here and then gone.”

Harking back to the band’s pastoral progressive roots, Skates On seems to be telling us to make the most of our lives, it’s a more acoustic number that skips along quite lightly and with a nod to the classic middle England days of the 20’s and 30’s. Uplifting vocals and music that has a definite deftness and lighter touch combine to deliver something quite contemplative and reflective, “Make those memories, Live your dreams, We’re just a flare on a lens, The house will still be dusty, When the kids have flown, When you are gone…”

“Far away from all they have known, They will dream of home, There at the edge of a distant land, New walls rise on old stone.”

Alberto had a storytelling idea of his own, rooted in his own childhood. All he sought was help in bringing it to life. When the singer raised the subject of Miramare, a 19th century castle in Spain that had been built by the order of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife Carlotta of Belgium, a lightbulb went off in Greg’s head. He bought three giant books on the subject of the castle’s former residents to transform Alberto’s musical sketch into a full-blown musical novel. More than ten minutes in duration, Miramare marked the first significant collaboration between the pair, setting the bar at an astonishing level for the album that followed.

“It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy, with madness involved, and he [Maximilian] ends up before a firing squad,” Spawton states. “Alberto handed me the story on a plate.”

Telling stories is how music really started, troubadours singing tales around campfires, that’s how news passed from remote village to remote village and that’s at the heart of everything that Big Big Train create. When it is done as well as this then it is something quite remarkable to behold and the songwriting skill has to be applauded. Miramare is like a glorious ten minute audiobook set to music and you are drawn deep into this compelling and tragic tale as Alberto’s voice dominates proceedings, almost hypnotic in its timbre and delivery and the music is just exquisite, Clare’s violin imbuing some of the heartfelt passion that the story invokes. The highs and lows are superbly created and the crescendos reached are irresistible, Greg has really found another songwriting soul mate in Alberto and the partnership promises so much to come, musical storytelling really doesn’t get much better than this.

“Love is the light, Hiding in the corner of my eye, Love is your smile.”

I doubt you will hear a piece of music quite as beautiful as Love Is The Light this year, or any other come to mind. Poignant and heartfelt from the start, as Clare’s yearning violin plays, it’s a song that majors on Alberto’s gracefully profound vocals and the utterly mesmerising brass section, led once again by Dave Desmond. Ethereal and exquisite from start to finish, you find yourself lost in the moment, rooted to the spot, as the world carries on without you. This stunning song then reaches new heights with an incredibly moving, soulful guitar solo, one of those moments in an album that you will always cherish.

“One day we rode out, Side by side, For the last time, Nobody there, Knew we’d not, Ride together again.”

My whole body shivers as if someone has walked over my grave, Alberto’s vocal at the start of Bookmarks is a dead ringer for David’s, it’s uncanny and memories come flooding back. Another song that harks back to the future with a feel of classic BBT and the English pastoral prog they are so well known for. Initially, quite a subtle and subdued piece of music where keyboards, mellotron and vocal are all that is required to create a hushed, almost mesmeric, atmosphere. When the music builds, it does so carefully, still relying on the elegant, harmonised vocals to be centric to everything. A nostalgic, wistful track that flows serenely along with the accompaniment of the graceful guitars and violin.

“Shallow enders, Last eleven, Are we nearly there yet?, Can the likes of us, Find a place to call our own?”

None of the album’s eight songs were worked on with David Longdon. Although originally intended for an album entitled ‘Shallow Enders’ that never came to fruition, Last Eleven, the first song heard with Alberto’s voice, was written during the lifetime of his predecessor. An urgent guitar opens the song, there is feel of movement and pace about the music and Alberto’s high energy vocal delivery and Nick’s drumming is animated and spirited. An ode to the ones that make up the numbers, the oversights and the extras, it’s a track full of hope and optimism and that can be felt through the music and its catchy, infectious rhythm. A really uplifting and upbeat way to close out the album and one that leaves you almost breathless but full of confidence and belief, “Shallow enders, Last eleven, Are we nearly there yet? Can the likes of us, Find a place to call our own?”

What an emotional rollercoaster, I have spent the last four weeks listening to ‘The Likes Of Us’ at every opportunity. In the best tradition of Big Big Train albums of the past, it is not merely a collection of songs, it is a musical masterpiece that becomes part of your life and, for me, that means this album stands tall with the likes of ‘The Underfall Yard’ and English Electric’ 1 & 2. I know it is early in the year but it is going to take something incredibly special to topple this off the top of album of the year list and, for a long time fan of the band, that fills me with joy and makes me very happy indeed!

Released 1st March, 2024.

Order the album here:

Big Big Train – Miramare (Single Edit) (


Big Big Train are delighted to announce 12 shows to take place in September and October 2024 in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.

At these performances the seven piece band will be promoting their forthcoming The Likes Of Us album, their first for the InsideOut label, which will be released on 1st March 2024. Listen to the latest single ‘Miramare’ and pre-order here:

Big Big Train – Miramare (Single Edit) (

Lead vocalist Alberto Bravin says: “We’re really looking forward to getting back on the road this autumn around the UK and Europe.Following the success of last year’s The Journey Continues tour, we can’t wait to do it all again. On this tour in autumn we will be playing a significant amount of The Likes Of Us as well as some Big Big Train classics and a few surprises.”

Drummer Nick D’Virgilio adds: “Last year’s Big Big Train shows were so much fun. We made some changes to the set list every night. It was very challenging but it kept things fresh for both us and the audience, so we’re going to take a similar approach on this tour to make every show genuinely unique.”

Bassist Gregory Spawton continues: “For this tour we’ve decided to return to some of our favourite venues. But we were also keen to return to Wales for the first time since 2019 and get back to the north east and north west of England as well as visiting some parts of the country where Big Big Train hasn’t played before. While some fans travel vast distances to see us live, we recognise that others aren’t able to do so and therefore we’re trying to bring the show to them.”

Guitarist Rikard Sjöblom concludes: “In an ideal world, we would play everywhere! Scheduling is always challenging and so while we couldn’t organise a Swedish show this time around, I’m delighted that we will be performing in Oslo and Copenhagen again for my fellow Scandinavians. And I’m particularly looking forward to our weekend at the Boerderij where we plan to play two very different shows.”


TUESDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 2024                     Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, UK

WEDNESDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER 2024              The Riverfront, Newport, UK

THURSDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 2024                  Playhouse Theatre, Whitley Bay, UK

SATURDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER 2024                   Queens Hall, Edinburgh, UK

SUNDAY 22ND SEPTEMBER                            Palace Theatre, Newark, UK

TUESDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER                          Stables Theatre, Milton Keynes, UK

WEDNESDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER                   The Stoller Hall, Manchester, UK

FRIDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER 2024                         Stadthalle, Weinheim, GERMANY

SATURDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER 2024                  Boerderij, Zoetermeer, NETHERLANDS

SUNDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2024                       Boerderij, Zoetermeer, NETHERLANDS

TUESDAY 1ST OCTOBER 2024                            Cosmopolite, Oslo, NORWAY

WEDNESDAY 2ND OCTOBER 2024                    Viften, Copenhagen, DENMARK

Tickets for all shows go on sale at 10am UK/11am central European time on Friday 9th February. A pre-sale open to members of the band’s Passengers Club for all shows except Copenhagen, Oslo and Zoetermeer opens at 10am UK/11am central European time on Thursday 8th February. The pre-sale for Whitley Bay opens at 5pm on Thursday 8th February.

Ticket links here:


Trifecta announce details on ‘The New Normal’, New Album Released 12th April 2024 on Kscope

The collaboration of singer songwriter Nick Beggs, keyboardist extraordinaire Adam Holzman and internationally renowned drummer Craig Blundell combine Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock with a dash of English wit.

Pre-orders are available here:

The New Normal (

Trifecta have announced their new album – their second musical observation in the form of The New Normal on 12 April on Kscope.

It is often said that the greatest musical groups are the ones with the right mixture of ideas, talent and chemistry. These are things Trifecta have in abundance. It is, of course, no secret that the three members – keyboardist Adam Holzman, bassist/Chapman Stick mastermind Nick Beggs and drummer Craig Blundell – have spent their most recent years touring some of the world’s biggest stages as part of many bands including with Steven Wilson. So when they decide to form a largely instrumental offshoot as a trio, eventually writing and releasing 2021’s Fragments debut, they were already off to a head start, with a tangible sense of creative familiarity that had been stunning audiences in every corner of the globe. 

For listeners seeking to escape the confines of the normal world, ‘The New Normal’ will enable a window into vistas in a multitude of sonics and in concept. By combining elements of Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion all with a dash of typical English wit the band bring the listener into a world where sound is malleable, time is a mere concept and vegetables have otherworldly properties like the ‘Stroboscopic Fennel’. 

This new 19 track, epic sees the band building upon the innovative ambition and genre-hopping skulduggery they so fearlessly introduced themselves to the world with on ‘Fragments’. The New Normal could easily have carried on in that same direction and comfortably delighted fans of all three musicians, as well as their associated projects. But if there’s anything we know about Holzman, Beggs and Blundell, it’s that they are bursting with ideas of every kind. Which explains why this album is guided by an uncontainable brilliance and bravado that packs in so many twists and turns, practically laughing at any notion of genre or boundary. The mid-70s fusion of Beck And Call cascades into the jazz noir brilliance of Dot Are You Wooing without a flicker of hesitation, venturing far beyond the introductory nuances into something truly dazzling and unexpected, telling another chapter of a rapidly evolving story. It’s almost as if this band take delight in ignoring the stylistic stop signs that provoke fear in the less adventurous… 

“I think we all felt it was important to not fit too heavily into one idiom,” admits Beggs. “There was a lot we wanted to say and we couldn’t really compact it all into one predetermined sound. I’m especially proud of Dot Are You Wooing and Chinese Fire Drill. We wanted to take listeners on a journey they won’t forget. The roots of every song is representative of one person in this band. Adam would come up with something like Wacky Tobaccy, mapping out the sonics, and then we would expand on it together, changing things up wherever it suited the music. Craig came up with the song Ornamental Lettuce and then Adam and I added our parts on top. There’s plenty more to come!”

Joining the trio of masterful musos is Alex Lifeson (Envy of None / Rush) for additional guitar on ‘Once Around The Sun With You’ and Theo Travis (Steven Wilson) on saxophone for insectoid grooves of ‘Daddy Long Legs’. Alongside John Paul Jones’ very chapman stick from 1979 that was sent to Nick and used to record ‘The New Normal’. 

 The album was recorded in the Bermuda Triangle of normality that is Leighton Buzzard, Bedford and New York between 2019 and 2023, engineered by the band and mastered by Andy VanDette (Beastie Boys / Rush / Whitney Houston), adorned with artwork that was inspired by an original idea from Hajo Muller.

Available on Limited edition white 2 LP / CD / 2 LP and digitally – with pre-orders available here:

The New Normal (

1. Beck And Call [02:35] 

2. Dot Are You Wooing? [00:53] 

3. Stroboscopic Fennel [02:25] 

4. Just Feel It Karen [03:53] 

5. Sibling Rivalry [04:01] 

6. Ornamental Lettuce [02:15] 

7. Daddy Long Legs [04:07] 

8. What Are You Doing? [00:53] 

9. Stupid Pop Song [03:32] 

10. Crime Spree [03:07]

    11. Bach Stabber [02:07] 

12. Kleptocrat [02:35] 

13. Once Around The Sun With You [03:50]

 14. Chinese Fire Drill [03:29] 

15. Ouch! My OCD [01:17] 

16. Wake Up Call [03:46] 

17. Wacky Tobaccy [03:28] 

18. Canary In A Five And Dime [03:55] 

19. On The Spectrum [03:23

Band picture by Hajo Mueller.