The great Steve Hackett describes Progressive Rock as ‘music without boundaries’;
The band Twelfth Night met their border yet managed to carry on their crusade,
For like returning Knights to lost realms, from the Ingmar Bergman dark
To fresh spotlights, the three young men who first set out
Strove to surpass former glories and in their middle age forged new blades.
Those sound knives were guitars, slicing song and the time cast behind them,
Slow cosmic synths crest and colour, as the stately triumph of drums here defends
The integrity they have shown in walking away from the dreamscape
That commercial claims soured. After nearly thirty years absence
These Knights formed an evening to celebrate how hopes end.
As I write, it is seven years to the day of that final performance,
Captured now across plastic and the digital age for the fans
Who grew with this group, listening to both their music and struggle
As they sought Hackett’s boundaries and attempted to define that dream land.
And so A Night to Remember arrives, full with the poignancy of the title,
For both audience and performers, this dignified choice was unique.
As calling time on a dream anticipates harsher mornings,
In which youth’s aspirations remain on eternally distant peaks.
Legend like, the (K)Nights gathered once more after a previous
Loreley voyage, and some other small scale nostalgias, bridging decades
And terrain, to contain and confirm what had been achieved in lost moments
When legacy is the landscape lain across the heart’s map and mind’s frame.
The three men at the core began the band as young students,
Brian Devoil, Andy Revell and then Clive Mitten enhancing drums
And guitar with starred bass. The sound at once was sublime;
Careful arpeggios, rippling; reverberation like water over glistening
Rhythmic stones; song’s fresh face. The busy lines were pure Prog,
And yet they had a tenderness to them, as if in the clamour
They were replacing voice with each note.
Synths joined the stream as destination found focus
After some false starts with another singer, Geoff Mann’s vision
And voice shaped their road. Mann stood for mann-kind as his compassion
And spirit commanded, tying the youthful hopes of a rock band
To the bedrock of faith and known truth. He cared about the crusade,
Honouring it with his lyrics. In Twelfth Night’s final concert
The journey reveals hiddden clues. For perhaps they were not meant to be
Just another band whose exposure would provoke misplaced loyalty
To the the fouled marketplace. Geoff Mann’s belief in the next took him
Through a far too early death to transcendence, just as the band’s career exile
Has created a new sense of place. In which the older men each resound
With their former selves, sensed beside them as they re-invigourate music
That releases those trapped by borders into the great unknown of the free.
For there is a joyful integrity here, a later equivalent to excitement.
They knew how to start things. They knew how to stop, that’s release.
Here, they knew how to end, throwing the concert wide open,
Free to fans who’d stuck by them, this was a gesture that no sea of change
Could quite drown. It served to enhance music’s aim, which is to combine
And confirm, to elevate and to transport across past and present
And back again, love’s true sound
As the band itself echoes faith,
That others have in them, their representation of what might have been
Stays profound. It is the spiritual equal to those who claim the stadium stage
And the money, their compromise damns them and their shelf life duly pales.
By remaining near the rocks with the mainstream flowing from them
Twelfth Night still continue. And while this concert closes it also contains
A new start, as having risen up through the ranks, the song Sequences shows
How Mark Spencer had moved from supporting player to singer;
In The School of (Twelfth) Night, that sound study achieves at least an A star.
Spencer populates the great songs that Mitten and Mann made together
With tenderness, gusto and mannish charisma, as force;
Serving the space for the sublime Andy Revell, whose soft, liquid playing
In a second transmutes to sharp squall. His solo passages arc,
Primed by dignity’s colour, as Devoil’s artful drumming houses
Said integrity with each strike. In We Are Sane, Devoil echoes a typewriter
On hi-hat, and indeed such precision is echoed by Dean Baker’s synthscapes
And the vibrant finger swordplay of Mitten’s bass reveals
How each passage, and each soldier in song wins their fight.
As The Ceiling Speaks starts with its breakout rousing fanfare,
We witness men in their fifties revivify youth with real grace.
Their sense of immersion, return and joyful communion
With their former selves takes expectation and completely
‘Re-bloods’ the known face.
Prog Rock can date
But the music here is expression of the journey undertaken
And the compromises denied. The End of the Endless Majority
Magics in, a classical and electric guitar duet, with Mitten and Revell
Enchanting us all as notes glide. Human Being blossoms forth, as does
This City, each explosive explorations of what pop songs can be;
Expansive visions, no less, that capture cityscapes and conditions
With a taped Geoff Mann intro mixed with SFX, ghosts fly free.
East to West demonstrates the genesis and band bible,
Starting out instrumental, Twelfth Night’s soul sang no lines.
Those first hands were locked inside a private chamber,
In which dextrous playing honoured the secret realm they’d defined.
You can hear it throughout the extended songs without lyrics,
The Poet Sniffs a Flower and the early piece Fur Helene;
Revell’s cosmic sounding flanged chords, Mitten’s bubbling bass,
Devoils clamour, they were each of them speaking
To the nights to come and defend.
As the gates for the original Prog Rock fell sealed,
A new generation of musicians sought to lay their own pathway
That lead to the redirection of song: Marillion and Twelfth Night,
IQ, and Pendragon, Pallas; each band sought salvation
For what the so called marketplace deemed as wrong.
As Mitten takes CRAB for a walk, the sly slide of notes sparks
And tumbles, this is music as filter for the personality of each man.
It is a small joy to see and is later repeated by Revell, in their encore
Fact and Fiction, a U2 style shimmer has a power and glory
That anyone, even with a different taste understands,
We are Sane and Creepshow are Progressive Rock classics.
In many ways they are equal to Supper’s Ready,
Or the sidelong advances of Yes, for they are politicised too,
By Geoff Mann’s social comment, which become social gospel,
There to add the divine to man’s mess.
The concert is a communion of sorts, based around time
And loyalty. Fans who stuck by them have become honoured
Friends. So A Night to Remember is more than just concert footage.
It is a lesson in being and a containment of love as it ends.
Unlike more established rockstars these days who age and fall beneath
Their own shadow, Twelfth Night become lucky,
Despite the commercial severing they endured.
Since their untimely demise in 1987, they have risen again
To release that lost career over and reclaim the fresh light they deserve.
Now that life stands and plays separate to the players who return
To endeavours that were forged in the decades that disavowed
Wilderness; Revell’s leading AIDS research, Mitten’s Studio runs
And Collective. Spencer and Baker’s prolific prog playing in various bands,
Projects, tours; each are blessed. With Brian Devoil at the heart
Having worked as archivist, manager and accountant, it is his dedication
That has revived Twelfth Night’s force. These Musical Knight’s journeyed forth
Across uncertain terrain reshaped for them.
If the Crusade is now over then the songs and stories they’ve left us
Will fill fresh palaces and adorn
Each new vista
And sense that music still graces;
Twelfth Night are remembered through both David Read’s
Seamless film record and the call to heart and soul they implore.
They were the band that were not, but now are again.
Documented. As night move on they’ll keep playing,
Songs heard behind long closed doors.
Geoff Mann’s Peter Gabriel glow displayed early promise
That moved beyond that expected from most young men
At that time. Now Five older men play, honouring all who had joined them,
Completing a journey that in the most simple of ways is sublime.
Mark Spencer sings pure of heart, celebrating Mann
And then Andy Sears, who came after, with an artful rephrasing
Of Mann’s singular presence and Sears’ far more theatrical sway.
As Mann’s seminal Love Song concludes its message has the same
Resonance as Imagine. The call for clear answers and ultimate truth
Shapes the soul. This not just a CD, a DVD or a Blu-Ray.
It is time’s token window, revealing the exiles
On their journey back from the cold.
David Erdos, December 12th 2019
On Twelfth Night’s A Night to Remember: Live at the Barbican December 15th 2012
(TN Records 2019)
And so at long last we are delighted to confirm the forthcoming release of A Night To Remember, and to invite pre-orders.
This is our now legendary performance recorded live in 2012 at The Guildhall School of Music in London’s world renowned Barbican Centre.
Released both in stunning High Definition BluRay and DVD formats, as well as on CD, it features the complete performance comprising nearly 2 hours of the band’s best-loved songs recorded in front of an audience of specially invited fans and friends. The line-up was Andy Revell, Brian Devoil, Clive Mitten, Mark Spencer and Dean Baker, with a guest appearance by Roy Keyworth.
The tracklisting is: The Ceiling Speaks, Human Being, The End of the Endless Majority, This City, World Without End, East to West, Creepshow, Für Helene, We Are Sane, CRAB, The Poet Sniffs a Flower, Sequences, Fact and Fiction, East of Eden, Love Song.
The audio recordings have been re-engineered and remixed by Mark Spencer, and mastered by Karl Groom at Thin Ice studios. Both BluRay and double DVD include a host of extra special features including ‘Taking A Look Back” a brand-new documentary, an animated history of Twelfth Night, a slideshow with its own original soundtrack, and other items making up a truly special package.
More details of the Tracklisting and the Special Features are in the Press Release, which I have copied below.
We are in the process of sending off all the parts to our manufacturers, and if all goes to plan the official release date will be Friday 29th November. (Yes we know it’s Black Friday…)
At the moment we have not decided on the actual quantities of each format to make, and in particular the ratio of BluRays to DVDs.
As we will be basing these decisions on the orders we receive between now and the middle of next week, we would therefore like to thank all of you placing pre-orders in the next few days.
- Für Helene (6.56)
- We Are Sane (10.56)
- CRAB (4.11)
- The Poet Sniffs a Flower (1.44)
- Sequences (19.35)
- Fact and Fiction (4.42)
- East of Eden (6.03)
- Love Song (8.20)