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ZOPP – LIVE IN CONCERT in Bannerman’s Bar, Edinburgh – Saturday, 25th May, 2024

This is a taster for a full article on and interview with up-and-coming progressive band ZOPP. It has always been very important to me to support aspiring musicians in a positive way and in reviewing (a voluntary, unpaid activity) in some detail (and not the cursory reviews you might read in ‘professional’ magazines). The comprehensive article is intended for ACID DRAGON, a shining beacon of a selfless approach to supporting progressive musicians; a labour of love in short. We are not journalists but we are writers so, without fear or favour, I turn to my impressions of Saturday night past.

My friend Richard whispered SOFT MACHINE to me after an atmospheric introduction to the opening number; a three-chord riff, wah-wah guitar, deep fuzzy bass, a DAVE STEWART (EGG variety) solo, guitar arpeggios weaving through the music; perhaps a little more shade than light, 15-minutes, a lot to take in for the uninitiated but well received. Some ‘Latin’ beats crept into the third song, a nice change of pace; heads were moving, In the fourth (a new one) the vocals were not as clearly audible as the band might have liked, but the music was most intriguing. And so ended the first half. Isn’t it remarkable that this great cerebral style of music is still alive!

In the second half, the band really hit their stride. The sound seemed better in the challenging environment of a ‘dungeon’ bar with low centuries old ceilings. I recognised instantly that organ sound (replicated on a Nord) that has become the signature of MIKE RATLEDGE; everything started to gel. On the seventh drummer Andrea Moneta moved into off-beat mode for a while which suits him well, as some soaring guitar lines from Richard Lucas flew through the air, DUNGEN and BO HANSSON were mentioned as influences which was curious. Some nice electric piano on the next number, also that Ratledge sound again along with a mellotron sound. There followed a song that made me think briefly of the great CAMEL. I loved this one and I think there was there another number but can’t make out my notes very well so will need to await the setlist to confirm that.

Overall, I would imagine that nostalgists and those already familiar with Zopp’s music would have been satisfied. I hope that those less familiar with this approach to music were intrigued enough to discover more. It is difficult for a band like Zopp these days. There are less opportunities to play progressive music live, but they have built up a good following with healthy sales - of course, more is needed to step forward in a professional sense without the financial backing from a label which many bands benefited from in the heyday of prog. Zopp’s “Dominion” album has already rightly garnered many favourable reviews so there is great hope for the future - I wish them well.

A SECOND OPINION from MARY AUSTIN whom I met for the first time at the gig.

“What a friendly gig that was! I met so many new fellow fans of this type of music. I am from Lancaster and I travelled to Edinburgh by train. I first heard about Zopp because they were described as being Canterbury style with a lot of similarities to EGG in particular. Egg is my all-time favourite band, so I was interested straight away. I think the article I read was probably in Prog magazine. I checked them out on Bandcamp etc, and immediately liked what I heard, especially the track "You". Then they were on at Winter's End in Chepstow, which I went to, and I was totally blown away!”

“I really enjoyed the concert in Edinburgh. The music was fabulous with a couple of new long pieces as well as ones I had recently become familiar with. They were all interesting, often very uplifting, and sometimes thrilling and entrancing too. Just fabulous.”

“The venue and organisation of the concert (kudos to Andrew Naylor with assistance from Christina - ed), the audience and the general vibe were all great too. Probably my gig of the year.”

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May 28

A really enjoyable night, glad I was there. Huge thanks to Andy Naylor and Christina for putting this treat on in Scotland - and for Andy's amazingly tasty cakes to celebrate Sun Ra Arkestra's Marshal Allen's 100th birthday! I hope someone took a pic and sent the gent a picture of the tasty display.

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