The Robin 2 is a superb venue with a regular sound-guy who knows what he is doing, it has a well- stocked bar and there’s often catering available which includes grey peas and bacon, a local Dudley delicacy (gray-pays). This year the venue has announced some Sunday ProgRock all-day festivals of which this was the first.
I arrived from Devon later than planned (family commitments) but just in time thank goodness, to
see Strangefish appear on stage as they launched into Happy ‘As I Am’! The songs have matured and developed as their two newest members, Jo (additional vocalist) and Kris Hudson-Lee (bassist) have become fully integrated into the band with both of them adding new layers and nuances to the Strangefish-sound!
Jo’s gorgeous harmonies and vocal-range compliment and enhance Steve Taylor’s perfectly while Kris provides extra bite and power on the bass-work. There’s great on-stage chemistry between them all, a highlight being some hilarious between-song ad-lib banter between Kris and lead-singer Steve Taylor; the latter has added more gravitas and poignancy to the songs and he and Jo were engaging vocalists throughout.
The set included songs from way back such as Oceans Deep and Shifting Sands (Full Scale), with other favourites including Keep The Exits Clear (Fortune Telling) and from the latest album The Spotlight Effect, they included the awesome title- track along with the exciting and powerful Iconacon!
All the band were well into their stride enjoying the night as much as us and they each had an essential contribution to make with chances to show what they could do, Bob on lead-guitar clearly impressed some new fans on his solos while delighting old fans like me and the guy stood next to me, who was doing some impressive air-guitar work! (I did wonder whether he was Bob’s understudy).
Paul was also on fire (not literally – although he may have been smouldering under the stage-lighting – a spotlight effect), he was slightly hidden away from us at the back but we heard his
superb keyboard-work clearly enough as he did what he does best!
During Oceans Deep a sound-tech rushed on stage Ninja-like, adjusted some widget and then rushed off stage with Steve addressing the song’s lyrics at him with perfect timing: Who Are We ? Where Are We Going? it could have been a staged walk-on part as he made it look so natural! All too soon the set-time was evaporating faster than Steve Taylor and drummer Dave Whittaker’s bottles of water, so they closed with the uplifting Up To You and their wonderful fun-filled signature-piece Take A Holiday which never loses its crowd appeal as various inflatables including beach-balls, a tyre, air-guitar and dolphins were launched into the audience who happily participated in the party-mayhem!
Strangefish will be at the Bury Met to perform and film their award-winning album Fortune Telling on Saturday 4 th April – I can’t wait! Meanwhile check out The Robin 2 website for Prog All Dayers Sunday 28 th June & Sunday 25 October!
Words: Dave Kennedy
Photos: Tim Ellis