Stone Free Festival – O2 Arena, London -19th June 2016 – Sunday

Today was really to be an all prog rock day with the main headline act being Rick Wakeman playing his acclaimed masterpiece ‘The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur...

Words by: Robert Sutton

Images by: Robert Sutton Photography


Day two of this all new festival from Kilimanjaro Live and The O2 at the O2 Arena in London. Today was really to be an all prog rock day with the main headline act being Rick Wakeman playing his acclaimed masterpiece ‘The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table’ in full, for the first time since 1975.


Knifeworld – Classifying themselves asDelirious Psychedelic Rock/Pop’, yep.. that probably sums them up quite well, with Kavus Torabi (vocals and guitar) giving it all with singing, playing and running around the stage. It did however make a change to see some different instruments on the stage to those I normally see with the bassoon and saxophone being played by the members of the band standing side by side on the right of the stage. I thought that they played a good set, but were let down unfortunately by the fact that Kavus’s guitar strap broke, was taped up on-stage, but then broke again!!. This was a bit of a shame and did mare an otherwise good performance from them. Knifeworld have just released a new album ‘Bottled out of Eden’.



Bad Touch – Walking out of the Indigo after watching Knifeworld all I could hear was that the foyer area was being treated to some rock music from the Entrance stage. So I made a dash to see who was making this sound and soon found that it was indeed Bad Touch, whom I have seen before as support for The Answer not so long ago. This five piece Norfolk based band really does know how to play a good rock set and drew a good sized crowd for their performance. They have just released their debut album ‘Half Way Home’ and with the right PR I think that they will have a good chance of going onto bigger and better events in the near future.

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Vambo – New to me, another rock band were next up on the Entrance Stage. A four piece band from London that I had neither seen or heard of before, so I think that they need to get out and gig a bit more to get their name known on the event scene…Good rock band to watch, but just wish Jack Stiles (vocals) would do something else with his arm/hand rather than just putting it on top of his head!!..small criticism on an otherwise good set from them.

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Haken – London based progressive /metal /rock band Haken whom I had heard a lot of good things about entered the Indigo stage with virtually no light on them, but it soon became clear the reason for this as Ross Jennings (vocals) entered the stage wearing a pair of illuminated green sunglasses. Good solid performance from the entire band and were another band who have just released a new album, their fourth studio album, titled ‘Affinity’.

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Colour Of Noise – It was great to catch up with the guys from CON again, being from my ‘neck of the woods’ I have seen and followed them for a few years now. With Matt Mitchell (vocals) and Bruce Dickinson (guitars) ..-The Little Angels one not the Iron Maiden one!! a super performance of their rock songs on the Entrance stage, but not forgetting the rest of the band Ben, Dan and Randy. With Dan (rhythm guitar), seeming to be taking a few tips from Matt and becoming more and more flamboyant on stage every time I have seen him. Yes, another super set from the guys and one group that I would recommend anyone to go check out if you have not seen them before.

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Wilko Johnson – I heard a few comment about Wilko Johnson in that he is riding high from all the news about how he has recovered after being originally diagnosed with terminal cancer, well I have to disagree with this, he is riding high because he plays, and always has played, some great rhythm and blues songs. Supported as ever, by Norman Watt-Roy (bass) and Dylan Howe (drums). With his trademark side shifting across the stage and jerky head movements Wilko was on form again for today’s performance and is another one of those performers who just knows how to put of a great show. Once again another super set and long may he continue to tour and show off his great guitar playing.

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Xander and The Peace Pirates – Last up on the Entrance stage today were another group that I had not seen before. Thinking from their name that they might be another Alestom singing about pirates..but no, they play rock /soul music taking their influences from Hendrix , Zeppelin and Floyd amongst others and Xander being the surname (and not first name) of Keith (vocals/ guitar) and Stuart ( guitar). Really enjoyed their set and so impressed with, and the dedication it must take for Keith to be able to play the guitar with such grace and passion and he should be such an inspiration to others who think that playing the guitar is hard work..They say that 2016 will be the year of the ‘Peace Pirate’ and whilst I think it may take a little longer than just one year, they are a band to be looking out for in the years to come.

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Steve Hackett – With a no nonsense approach Steve came out onto the stage, with a quick wave to the audience for their applause, he just got on with what he knows best …playing his guitar. With the support of his band who included Roger King, Nad Sylivan, Gary O’Toole, Rob Townsend, Nick Beggs and Amanda Lehmann they played a seven song set and ended with the Genesis covers of ‘The Lamb Lies down on Broadway’ and ‘Firth of Fifth’. It was so good to hear these songs being played live again.

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Marillion – Opening with ‘The Invisible Man’ from the ‘Marbles’ album, ‘H’ was off into one of his ‘mad professor look’ moments with him wearing a pair of glasses, hair slicked back and a suit that was clearly about three sizes too small for him!!… Pure magic and drama bringing the song lyrics to life with such great passion. We were also in for a treat tonight as they played not only the favorite ‘Easter’ but also the old Marillion tracks of ‘Kayleigh’ ,’Lavender’ and  ‘Heart of Lothian’ that I have not actually heard before sung by ‘H’. As expected it seemed the whole of the audience were singing along to these songs in particular..I know I was…They ended their eight song set with ‘Neverland’ again from the ‘Marbles’ album. For me, I think that this was the best set of the day.


Rick Wakeman – With Marillion taking their final bows the road crew were already busy clearing the stage of their equipment trying to prep the for the headline act of the night that included a full orchestra, a choir, two singers , a narrator and of course Rick Wakeman with all his keyboards.. Once everyone was in their place Rick came onto the stage dressed with a customary cape of green with silver stripes, took up his position on a riser at the back of the stage and then we were off..onwards on the journey of  ‘The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table’. Guy Protheroe conducted the orchestra with perfection, and Ian Lavender ( yes..Ian..’Don’t tell him you name Pike’..Lavender..) was the narrator for the proceedings, seated in a majestic throne located on the stage left for the duration of the performance. The tracks were from time to time separated with a bit of narration from Ian and the whole experience seemed to gel and came together really well and passed in no time at all, which does say that it was a great set. My only slight criticism was that as Rick was so far back on the stage, and as there were no side screens, those seated in the front side seats of the arena could not actually get to see him!! It would also have been nice to have been introduced to the main performers at the end and have had a chance to applaud then individually, but otherwise yes, it was a great performance and an experience not to have been missed by any good progressive rock fan.


Rick Wakeman Setlist:

1: The Choice of King

2: King Arthur

3: Morgan Le Fay

4: Forbidden Love

5: Lady of the Lake

6: Arthur’s Queen

7: Guinevere

8: Lancelot and the Black Night

9: Princess Elaine

10: A Castle of Dreams

11: Camelot

12: The King of Merlins

13: A Wizard’s Potion

14: Merlin the Magician

15: The Quest

16: The Chalice

17: The Holy Grail

18: The Best Knight

19: The Forest

20:  Sir Galahad

21: Percival the Knight

22: Excalibur

23: The Last Battle


Sunday Performances and Stages:

Main Stage:

Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here Symphonic Live

Steve Hackett


Rick Wakeman


Cats In Space


Teeth Of The Sea


Wilko Johnson

The Entrance Stage:

Broken Witt Rebels

Bad Touch


Colour Of Noise

Xander and The Peace Pirates


In summary, a great new two day festival and one that hopefully can be built upon for next year to iron out a few small issues and become a bigger, better and a permanent event on the calendar each year. Many thanks to the event organisers and the PR company’s who helped make this a great weekend..and one that I don’t get soaking wet at either!!..


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Photo Credit: Ange Cobham / Cobspix Photography

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