In contrast to the first rock n roll day of Stone Free, the second day was a more prog oriented affair of bands. Along with a wide set of bands playing again in the Indigo, The Orange Amps Stage and All Bar One in the O2, with almost 12 hours of music and a big selection of styles for any type of music, the main set in the arena was comprised of more progressive bands.
The tone was more set up to hard and bluesy rock today too. On the outside stage, the bands that performed were again a crescendo of rock rush, such as The Rising Souls and The Bad Flowers, which were the top band of the Orange Amps stage rocking and shaking the ground. In the Indigo, the bands performing were all almost pure bluesy rock combined with a prog element. Jared James Nichols opened the set with a nice variety of blues and prog elements, filling up the venue slowly but steadily, on to the Godsticks delivering a more prog inclined and heavier performance. The top acts of the stage were Tyketto, delivering an absolutely breath taking performance with clear vocals, a more AOR sound and ridiculusly fantastic guitar solos (the guitarist sounded more like two separate guitarists rather than one), having he crowd sing along despite being early in the afternoon and followed by the ex-Poison, ex-Winery Dogs, ex-Mr. Big guitar master Richie Kotzen, filling the venue with a series of classy guitar craftwork and bluesy rhythm (along with his amazing solos).
First band on stage was Anathema. Their stage presence and sound were very atmospheric and intriguing, and they cast their spell by playing music from their award winning album The Optimist. Despite them being a very good act on stage, delivering a magical and atmospheric performance, I wouldn’t say that they captured me completely. Their style is rather slow and not as interesting to me, however I noticed that their fans who went there early on to see them were absolutely stunned by the performance and I didn’t hear a single bad comment about their show, meaning that fans of the genre would enjoy the show and would understand more the musical and atmospheric fusion of this performance.
Second act on stage was Joanne Shaw Taylor, bringing up the beat by playing a mix of blues rock and prog. Even if the crowd was not overly familiar with the band, their cheerful performance and their cracking playing delivered a good show, by combining blues-y tunes with rock and progressive sound, making everyone in the audience have a good time and be more cheerful after the 40 minute Anathema set. And she definitely managed to set up the atmosphere for the next bands due to the stage.
Next act was Roger Hodgson, who played for one hour on stage with his magnificent musicians and eye-catching stage set up. Comprising of two keyboards, lots of other unusual instruments and insane lights, his set was absolutely stunning. Even though there were lots of people arguing his set deserved longer, he still managed to pack his stage time with his top hits from Supertramp, delivering a breath taking performance and even having the crowd singing along to Take the Long Way Home, School, Breakfast in America, The Logical Song, Dreamer and It’s Raining Again. What I’d say was the highlight of his act, apart from the plants covering the stage, were the saxophone solos along with the double keyboard action that left me in awe and longing for more, even though I was already looking forward to next band to come on stage.
Last band to end this magnificent festival was YES with the ARW line up. The band celebrates their 50th anniversary, with the Anderson/Wakeman/Rabin combination bringing back in action the classic AOR version of 80s YES. Their set lasted for a total of two full hours, playing energetically and filling the venue with classic sounds, amazing keyboards (and oh lord THAT cape!) and having the crowd cheering, singing along and having a very nice time. YES are a band that you can either love or hate, but in their live performance, the top notch sound, the amazing visuals and the band’s stage presence, they can really make you love them and want more. The highlight of this performance, and the best way to close a full-weekend music festival was Wakeman grabbing his key-tar and leaving the stage to play it in the arena among the crowd, who followed him in his route all around the main arena among the seats from one end of the stage to the other. Their setlist included songs such as Cinema, Hold On, And You and I, Rhythm of Love, Heart of the Sunrise, Owner of a Lonely Heart and the closing encore song Roundabout, ending with a cheerful Jon Anderson waving a little teddy-lion to the crowd and smiling. All in all, it was a great performance, a magical fusion of instruments and stage presence, aspiring to be the best one of the whole day and a great way to close this year’s Stone Free Festival, celebrating the old sound and bringing it back to the new fans to follow.
Words by Charis Bagioki and Tom Potter, pics: Charis Bagioki
Check out the rest of the photos from Sunday at Stone Free here – https://flic.kr/s/aHsmdV4Pg3