2013 Progressive Music Awards: The Story Of The Night
The second Progressive Music Awards, presented by Orange Amplification, brought the great and the good of the prog world together in the gorgeous surrounds of Kew Gardens.
The first port of call for the evening was an hour-long Champagne and Boodles Gin reception in the Nash Conservatory – also the luxurious venue for an earlier ProgRocks! roundtable featuring Steve Hillage, Steve Rothery, Mike Portnoy, Mikko Von Hertzen and the Safety Fire’s Dez Nagle, which you will be able to read much more about in the upcoming issues of Prog. The aforementioned should give an idea of the social strata of the evening as celebrated seniors such as Marillion and Hawkwind mingled with newer talent like Amplifier and Touchstone while celebrity prog fans Bill Oddie, Matthew Wright and Gavin Esler also enjoyed the bubbly.
While Champagne and cocktails in the sunshine is nothing to be sniffed at, the three-course fine dining experience that followed was exceptional. The wine flowed as a goat’s cheese starter, sumptuous rare breed main and chocolate peanut butter fondant dessert led to much merriment. There was a buzz in the air as old friends reconnected and new acquaintances were made, all to the sound of clinking glasses. Once the last of the food was devoured, Steve Hackett took the stage for a couple of acoustic numbers including Horizons from Foxtrot and an excellent rendition of Ripples with Amanda Lehmann.
Then it was time for the main event – The Progressive Music Awards 2013. With Prog magazine editor Jerry Ewing comfortably placed behind a suitably sturdy lectern – imagine the heavyweights that were to lean on it later – his speech outlined exactly why the awards are so important and how far progressive music has come in the last few years (“It all goes to show that in its many varied guises, progressive music remains the most compelling of rock genres”) as well as a few hilariously cheeky digs before introducing the host, Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler, who lent his expert public speaking qualities – and prog knowledge – to proceedings.
The first award of The Progressive Music Awards 2013 was Limelight, sponsored by Kscope. This award reflects the new blood in the magazine and went to Sound Of Contact who stormed to victory in the reader voting. The award was collected on their behalf by Jerry as the sole attendee from the group, frontman Simon Collins, was sadly taken ill earlier in the day. Get well soon, sir!
The second award of the evening for Anthem of 2013, sponsored by Roadrunner Records, went to The Von Hertzen Brothers for Flowers And Rust. All three of the Finnish brothers cut a classy Nordic dash – Mikko making their effusive acceptance speech, saying “We’re officially part of the lineage now!” and Kie wearing what he called his “summer beard”.
The newly renamed Storm Thorgerson Grand Design award, in remembrance of the iconic artist who passed away this April, was sponsored by Alchemy, presented by his artistic partner Peter Curzon and the won by the superb 14-disc Family Once Upon A Time box set.
The host of The Prog Magazine Radio Show on TeamRock Radio, Philip Wilding presented the Breakthrough award and he highlighted exactly why that honour has been bestowed on him with an hilarious intro based on schoolboy rivalry between Gavin Esler and Jeremy Paxman. The award was won by Big Big Train who were clearly very pleased with their achievement as three members of the band – Greg Spawton, David Longdon and Andy Poole – paused to thank everyone who had helped them. It’s important to remember who’s helped you get to where you are, of course!
The award for the Live Event was sponsored by Esoteric and Cherry Red Records and presented by Gavin Esler to Steve Hackett for his terrific Genesis Revisited show at Hammersmith Apollo. Steve’s speech was very touching; he mentioned his father who had recently died and who was his musical inspiration.
The award for album of the year was sponsored by InsideOut and picked up by Steven Wilson for his gothic epic The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories). This year Steven came prepared – after last year’s appearance in a T-shirt he had a suit, shoes and Nuclear Blast MD Mark Palmer’s glasses.
Band Of The Year was sponsored by Boodles Gin and won by the mighty Marillion, who all took to the podium where a super-chuffed Steve Hogarth also pointed to the nearby-seated Ian Anderson, thanking him for writing Life Is A Long Song “cos that’s a f**king great tune!”.
Neal Morse then bounded onstage in a black suit and gold lame tie to present the Virtuoso award to his Transatlantic bandmate, Mike Portnoy. Mike was nearly speechless – a first for him! – but he did mention that he was wearing his Dark Side Of The Moon Converse sneakers especially for the night, and especially for Storm Thorgerson. Nice touch, sir.
The Visionary award was sponsored by Eagle Rock and presented by one of Britain’s greatest naturalists – yes, there was a slip-up with that word earlier on the red carpet – Bill Oddie, who told the room he missed the days when people in the room dressed as wizards and bananas before giving the award to a proud and humbled Steve Hillage.
The next award was for Guiding Light, honouring the people who keep the prog beacon alight. Presented by flowery-shirted Flower Kings chap Roine Stolt, he gave a rousing emotional recollection of his first experience of meeting the rather shocked winner, Thomas Waber, owner of InsideOut Records, who somewhat fttingly celebrate 20 years this year.
The Lifetime Achievement award was sponsored by USM and excitedly presented by Channel 5 magazine show host Matthew Wright with plenty of anecdotes, a nod to a dapper-looking Robert John Godfrey on the table in front of him, and the admission that he’s still a cosmic fanboy from Croydon. The recipient could be none other than Hawkwind main man Dave Brock, looking very distinguished in his pinstripe suit (and sandals), with his partner Kris and bandmates cheering him on from their table.
And so to the biggie: The Progressive Music Awards Prog God of 2013, sponsored by Orange Amps and presented by outgoing God Rick Wakeman to Ian Anderson. Regaling us with tales of codpieces and sequinned capes, Anderson promised to make us all cower during the next 52 weeks of his reign with a growl of “you’re not worthy!”. It’s true, we’re not! Please don’t hurt us…
With the official proceedings wrapped up, it was off to Soho for a bit more jollity in Soho’s “trendy” Crobar. Thanks to all for voting, attending or even just supporting the event. Needless to say, the Progressive Music Awards will be back in 2014 – and who knows what will happen next year?!
Our Spy In The Camp: Raziq Rauf
Tags: Big Big Train, Dave Brock, Family, featured, Hawkwind, Ian Anderson, Inside Out Music, KScope, Marillion, Mike Portnoy, progressive music awards 2013, sound of contact, Steve Hackett, Steve Hillage, Steven Wilson, Von Hertzen Brothers