I knew nothing of Epiicycle before they were announced for RoSfest and as I enjoy encountering new bands was looking forward to seeing how they would open the show. Aalthough the band has been around since 2006 the first thing you notice is how young they all are. The second thing you notice is that the guitar, keyboards, drums and bass are joined by cello and violin for some of the songs, and with a very high level of technical ability it all mixes very well together into what they term as being a modern psychedelic progressive rock, which for me also incorporates some post-rock elements and more than a nod towards Nine Inch Nails. Their sound is full of varied and interesting ideas, complex at times, which they keep moving along with diverse rhythms, never allowing the audience to fully settle back into a comfort zone, even the vocals having an edge when they come in. It was a short set full of promise, and it deservedly went down very well. It will be interesting to see how they develop from here.
I had seen Tinyfish get better through each of the three shows on their recent UK tour and was excited about how they would come across in this much larger venue. They more than took it in their stride, put in the best performance I have seen from them, and went down a storm with the audience. They opened with a selection from The Big Red Spark, the narrative from Robert Ramsay setting the scene, and as the music begins to grow Simon Godfrey sings into it with smooth, powerful vocals before Leon Camfield’s drums rattle into Rainland, and as Paul Worwood’s bass holds it tight, Jim Sanders squeezes every last drop of sharp sound out of his guitar. It is a stunning start from a band who are clearly enjoying this opportunity in front of a very appreciative audience, with Rob being applauded as he comes back on to continue the narrative. They continue into I’m Not Crashing and the huge sound fills the theatre, screeching out as it swirls to a close and Iain Houston comes on wearing a gasmask and black clothing for his narration of Refugee. It is an awesome rendition, producing an edgy atmosphere which holds everyone spellbound, and with the stage bathed in red light they strike into a majestic version of The Big Red Spark, taking this section to a close and a standing ovation with very well deserved sustained applause. They appear somewhat overcome by the reaction and take a little while to get going again with the rest of the selection from The Big Red Spark, some slide guitar, bass pedals, and they drive it on again, relentless, Rob coming back on again simply, and very effectively, to say “the machine” and it blasts on to a finish and more applause. They finish the selection from The Big Red Spark with Rob coming on in a lab coat for Wide Awake At Midnight, before they introduce a special guest for The June Jar, with Andy Ditchfield of DeeExpus joining them on acoustic guitar as it bounces along. They bring it down a notch with Fly Like A Bird, then push on to the close of their set with a rocking Nine Months On Fire and the very last performance of All Hands Lost, which brings the audience to their feet yet again. Definitely a triumphant introduction to America, and things are looking very positive for Tinyfish.
I had seen Moon Safari at Winter’s End and knew that their flowing instrumental passages and vocal harmonies would be a good follow on for me from the harder edges of the Tinyfish set. Of course, this was a return to RoSfest for them and they received a very strong positive response from the audience from before the very beginning of their set right through to some additional vocal harmonies which followed in the hotel pool after the post-show party. Everything sounded perfect tonight as all their wonderful melodies ran together, sweeping everything up with them through a fine selection of songs from across all three of their albums, allowing us to enjoy not only the band as a whole, but the contribution of each individual band member as they enjoy opportunities to demonstrate their own prowess. There is something very positive and upbeat to their sound, never failing to bring a sense of joy, and tonight is no different as they produce a very slick performance which opens with the majestic Moonwalk and culminates with the always stunning Constant Bloom. Everyone is sent away with a smile.
After that we headed back to the hotel for the after show party, featuring Going For The One, a Yes tribute band who sound a lot more like Yes than the current Yes lineup. For this performance they were playing Yessongs and adding Clap – although in a leaflet they produced to accompany the performance they do make the point that Yessongs itself was not actually a replication of any live gig Yes played on that tour. These guys know their stuff, and that shows in their performance, as they remain true to the original sound and feel of the music, while investing it with their own energy and enthusiasm – which proves to be infectious, as people move closer to the edge of the stage to enjoy what they are hearing. An excellent end to the first day.