Tuesday 5 December 2023

The Market Harborough Round (10) Draughton and Arthingworth


It's been a sharp overnight frost, temperatures plummeting to -3 degrees. It's not likely to get much warmer either. Starting point is the privately owned 'Midshires Covert. ' A small wood planted mostly in 2009. I met the owner on a different walk during the Summer, and he told me to check it out. We followed the Bridleway along the Western edge and part of the Midshires Way. We then pick up the Brampton Valley Way and the first of the Railway tunnels heading towards Arthingworth.

If anything it is getting colder and there is a mist in the air. One tree in particular is full of Rooks, a Rookery,  making the distinctive caw or kaah sound. We continue into the village of Arthingworth . There are many varied footpaths to choose from , I think I've pretty much walked all of them over the years. We pass the Church of St Andrew's on our left.

It was at this point things started to go a little bit wrong. Crossing the old bridge over the River Ise visibility was very poor. It's a simple route to Harrington on a clear day.One I've walked several times, today we got lost in the fields. Instead of coming out opposite the Village Hall we missed the village completely! We cross over the busy A14 passing the Aviation Museum, passing through Blue Covert. This stretch of the walk has become really muddy into the bargain. Lots of Pheasants and a few Red Legged Partridges enjoying the grain that has been scattered. We've also seen  a few Fieldfares and Redwings feeding on the hedgerow berries.  

We reach the small village of Draughton, pronounced 'Draw-ton' I'm reliably informed. I came out this way on my bike during the week. It was a lovely sunny day, albeit a bit slippy in places. The photo on the left shows the junction where I parted company with the bike. Not particularly steep but a hidden patch of 'black ice' caused my downfall. Thankfully I wasn't going particularly fast. A passing van driver saw my fall and kindly stopped to make sure all was OK.Thankfully no damage was done to rider or the new bike. We climb a stile next to a large country house that I've always really liked. We are walking downhill towards the Brampton Valley Way passing a small pond on our right hand side. No sign of any life today though, perish the thought.

We join the BVW by the 'orphaned iron bridge. I always think it looks quite striking. The long abandoned bridge would once have crossed over the former Market Harborough to Northampton railway line. We follow the path for about half a mile, before turning off onto the Midshires Way and back to our start point.

Despite the poor weather it is still a great walk as always. Due to a few wrong turns we ended up walking 11.5 miles.

Thursday 30 November 2023

Lazuli - The Musician Leicester

Really looking forward to seeing French Prog Rockers for the third time. It's a short UK tour for November and December, The highlight being their appearance at Planet Rockstock, which celebrates its 10th anniversary at Trecco Bay.
 The band recently released their latest album “11” or “Onze,” I failed French at school so I can't elaborate much more I'm afraid. Tonight is the first night of the tour at 'The Musician' in Leicester. A new venue for me just over the County border. Certainly a new one for Lazuli too. They seem to specialise in the smaller more obscure locations. Tucked away in a quiet back street in the heart of Leicester, The Musician is the Midlands premier independent music venue. With live music at least six nights a week, it holds 220 people.As we arrive a few band members are braving the cold to enjoy a smoke. They are very friendly and we exchange greetings like old friends.

Since opening in 2000, The Musician's reputation has been built on presenting the very best home grown and international performers in a relaxed and friendly environment. With a supremely eclectic booking policy the venue regularly features everything from contemporary singer-songwriters to rock, blues, folk, ska, punk, world, bluegrass, reggae, metal, soul, indie, avant-garde and Americana. They also serve a more than decent pint of Beer too. Burton Bridge Brewery 'Festival Ale' 5.5%  dark Amber in colour the choice tonight.

Dominique Leonetti

Things get off to something of a stuttering start though. Claude Leonetti looks suspiciously at the Léode, which despite his best efforts is not producing any sound. Brother Dominique offers an explanation that it is a South of France Léode,and doesn't like the cold English weather. Some minor tinkering and we are back in business again. As always all the songs are in their native French. As you would expect much of the new album is played tonight. By my reckoning  seven of the eleven album tracks were played. Eleven tracks on an album called Eleven, their eleventh album released. Nicely balanced, I like that. I was a bit surprised that they had actually released that many. The first album was released in 1999 and wasn't particularly well received I understand. The band are in great form though, 'we are a bit rusty' Dominique tells us.We haven't played for a week now! Any cobwebs are soon blown away. 

Arnaud Beyney
Vincent Barnavol

Claude Leonetti

I think I've said it before?  There are times when If I close my eyes I think I'm listening to Geddy Lee of Rush singing. That really is a big compliment. The music as a whole is hard to categorise. The sounds coming from the Léode are wide and diverse. From eastern Asian sounds to haunting Pink Floyd 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' intro comparisons. It seems to have a sound for every occasion. Something else I've said before is that they deserve to playing bigger venues. Having said that I love the intimacy that goes with the small ones. So maybe I need to be careful what I wish for. 

A happy band of brothers ' lazuli'
I'm not sure that the vibrancy and 'Joie de vivre' of a live performance can be matched by the album. I heard two guys talking and one said to the other 'they don't sound like like they do on my CD. He may well have a point? As the set draws to a close the five band members join up to sing along to 'les mots désuets' (Obsolete Words). A song from the new album. Of course no Lazuli performance would be complete without '9 hands around the Marimba'. Such a beautiful sound that it makes too. After the opening the band divert into The Beatles 'Eleanor Rigby' and the 'Her Comes the Sun'. A great night amongst incredibly talented musicians. The crowd at 'Planet Rockstock' are in for a real treat!

Monday 27 November 2023

Marillion - Utrecht TivoliVredenburg Night 1 (500th Blog Post)

 It's only fitting that my 500th Blog post should be seeing Marillion live abroad for the first time. I've seen lots of bands across Europe before but never Marillion.

After a sightseeing wander around the beautiful city of Utrecht, it's time to hit the TivoliVrendenburg for Marillion. We did wander past late morning and I was a bit surprised not to see any hardy souls queuing outside. It was now mid afternoon still nobody outside? It soon became apparent that the queue was actually inside the building. 

A rare luxury indeed to be queuing inside in the warm. Too many times spent in the cold and rain for comfort. I spot the familiar sight 'James Greenwood'. No stranger to a front row and a 'set list. There is both seating and standing tonight on a 'first come first served' basis. It's amazing how much quicker the time waiting goes when you are not shivering and wet. The three hours wait passed in no time with the assistance of 'Green Tea' from the restaurant. Once the doors were opened at 7PM there was a bit of a scrum to get in. Some of those who had waited the longest didn't quite get through first. It all seemed to sort itself out though once inside the 7,500 capacity venue. Ordinarily we would have bolted for the stage. However Mrs A was struggling with a leg injury so we settled for seats. That was a tough decision too! A bit like the child in the sweet shop scenario. We opted for centre stage , slightly raised to avoid those standing in front. You can just about see us on the photo of the auditorium as it starts to fill up.

However, before the much anticipated Marillion we have a support act to enjoy. 'I am the Morning' a Russian duo who formed n 2010. The are described as Progressive rock/ Chamber Pop. Singer 'Marjana Semkina' was very quick to denounce any affiliation to her country and Mr Putin. They are pleasant enough to listen to. 'Marjana' definitely has a 'Kate Bush' vibe going on as she drifts across the stage. Many of the songs seem to be about death and dying though. Perhaps they should be called 'I am the Mourning' ? I also thought that keyboardist  'Gleb Kolyadin' bore more than a passing resemblance to myself? Well certainly in my younger days at least..

Night1 of 2 in Utrecht and we are greeted with an austere looking 'Steve Hogarth' on the big screen. Hair slicked back, glasses and jacket and tie as the opening lines of the 'Invisible Man' .He takes to the stage, dressed exactly the same. It's a great opening, one of my favourites too.    

Another fans favourite 'Easter' follows next. The arena has filled up remarkably. There isn't a seat to be had anywhere.Fans are stacked up in the stairwells too , gaining any viewpoint they can. The spare seat next to me has been occupied too. A chap called Timo from The Hague. Unfortunately his wife can't make it so is here on his own. At least he can get a really good seat for one. Even better after we get chatting earlier he buys me a beer!  

The band then dip back into the last album 'An Hour before It's Dark' and 'Reprogram the Gene'. We made this album about 5 years ago' says Hogarth,that's right isn't it Steve?  He asks guitarist Steve Rothery. About a year and a half ago actually he points out. Whenever it was it sounds great  and we are up and away and the place is rocking. Percussionist Luis Jardim has had a few problems but otherwise the sound quality is amazing. 'Lucky Man' from 'Sounds that can't be made' is next.A rarely played song live. Hogarth tells us it's because it's so effing complicated and difficult. Although we make it look easy. Unlike most bands who make  easy songs look really difficult. A good point well made I think.  

Mark  Kelly (Keys) Pete Trewavas (Bass)

The shirt and tie are now discarded,and we see various different guises as the evening progresses. He seems to be the master of the quick change too. 'Beyond You' from 'Afraid of Sunlight' and the title track from Sounds that can't be made' follow. The lighting is absolutely fantastic and adds even more to the performance . I was lucky to meet up with 'Lights Maestro' 'Yenz' beforehand and pass on some good wishes from a fellow lighting Engineer he knows, who lives in the same village as me.  

The  Bluesy Bass line of Quartz brings Pete Trewavas into the spotlight. Taken from the 2001 album 'Anoraknopbobia' the bands 12th studio album at the time. The album that saw the band go a bit Hip Hoppy and Funky before returning to a more Prog style.

The set is brought to a powerful climax with two more songs from 'An Hour before It's Dark'. Firstly the Leonard Cohen inspired 'The Crow and the Nightingale'.  Followed by a wonderfully emotion charged 'Care' that means so much to so many. The band leave the stage to a unanimous standing ovation.

Mr Steve Rothery

The band return to the pulsating beat of 'Splintering Heart' the opening track from Holidays in Eden. The second album with Hogarth at the helm. A song I've always had a soft spot for along with 'Real Tears for Sale'. A song that would probably with some difficulty say is my favourite is next. There is something about 'Neverland' that gets me every time. Everything about it resonates with me ,and seeing it live again is just fantastic. Hogarth becomes even more animated, if that is even possible? At times manic, always enthralling, a Showman for sure. Maybe even a Shaman?

Steve 'H' Hogarth

By comparison 'Steve Rothery' is calmness personified. Unruffled, going about his business with subtle sublimitity. The Yang to Hogarth's Ying. Or more a case of a Jekyll and Hyde comparison. The end result is all that matters, a concept in holism. The band is even greater than the sum of its parts. We even have time for quick rendition of 'Happy Birthday'. The 'Birthday Boy' being Mark Patrick, another veteran of Marillion gigs far and wide. The band leave the stage once more and nobody is still seated. 

By popular demand the bad return for one last hurrah.This is a song about 'Rollercoasters,' the ups and downs of success and fame, and the pressures that go with it. Another favourite of mine 'King' from 'The Afraid of Sunlight' album. And its just wonderful. A perfectly fitting finale for what has been an amazing evening. There is definitely a very different vibe to seeing bands abroad. I can't wait for the next time!

Thanks to Michael Voltz for the 'Auditorium filling up' photo. Also to Martin Potappel for the 'lights across the Auditorium photo.

Full Set List

  • The Invisible Man
  • Easter
  • Reprogram the Gene (I) Invincible
  • Reprogram the Gene (II) Trouble-Free Life 
  • Reprogram the Gene (III) A Cure for Us?
  • Lucky Man
  • Beyond You
  • Sounds that can't be Made
  • Quartz
  • The Crow and the Nightingale
  • Care (I) Maintenance Drugs
  • Care (II) An Hour before It's Dark
  • Care (III) Angels on Earth


  • Splintering Heart
  • Neverland 

Encore 2 

  • King


The Market Harborough Round (10) Draughton and Arthingworth

  It's been a sharp overnight frost, temperatures plummeting to -3 degrees. It's not likely to get much warmer either. Starting poin...