This Frost* gig has been a long time coming. Originally scheduled for April 2022, a rise in Covid-19 cases, coupled with the cost of touring, meant that this mini-tour had to be put back to November / December 2022.
Frost* – Islington Assembly Hall – 1 December 2022
Words: Robert Adams
Photography: Steve Ritchie
While blind VAR officials at the World Cup can’t plainly see that Japan’s ball has gone out of play and chose to award the goal that resulted from the move, much to Spanish chagrin and Germany’s exit from the competition, MetalTalk entered the beautiful surroundings of Islington’s Assembly Hall with time to grab a frothing refreshment before Frost* took to the stage.
The roar that greeted the band as they walked on stage was loud. Drummer Craig Blundell climbed behind his banana yellow drum kit, bassist Nathan East, guitarist and vocalist John Mitchell and keyboard player and vocalist Jem Godfrey stood in a line at the lip of the stage, soaking up the greeting from the very healthy crowd.
All three wore white t-shirts with black sleeves, and they had their names, dates of birth and gender on them.
There’s no intro music as such. Instead, we get the sound of a little girl telling us to “enjoy yourself, you scum,” and we’re straight into the title track of the band’s Day And Age album. The song comes to life in the live setting, and it’s wonderful to see and hear an accomplished group of musicians having a blast on stage.
Indeed, drummer Craig Blundell is hitting so hard that he cracks his hi-hat at the song’s conclusion. As his drum tech scurries to fetch a replacement, we go straight into Terrestrial.
Exactly half of tonight’s set is drawn from Frost*’s excellent Day And Age album, and they all sound huge. Black Light Machine from their debut album Milliontown follows a glorious run through Terrestrial and a quick glance at my watch tells me that we are already over half an hour into what is turning out to be a truly wonderful gig.
This was the last night of Frost*’s mini tour, and they sound amazing, brief technical glitches aside. Apart from Craig Blundell’s cracked hi-hat, the jack socket on one of John Mitchell’s guitars also gives up the ghost part way through Black Light Machine, but a swift guitar change means that nothing is missed.
Dear Dead Days from Experiments In Mass Appeal follows and brilliantly showcases Frost*’s three-part vocal harmonies with the crowd bellowing out the chorus.
Another two songs from the Day And Age album follow in the recent singles Skywards and Island Life, and Islington was literally jumping for joy.
Hyperventilate is the set’s penultimate song, and once more, Islington was in rapture. The skill of the musicians on stage cannot be overestimated as they made this complex music sound like child’s play.
As Jem Godfrey announced that we had reached the last song of the evening, he received a good-natured response of much booing from the crowd. He then saved himself by saying, “before we play Milliontown, I’d like to thank the crew for making this tour happen and you, the audience, for coming out and supporting live music.”
What followed was almost half an hour of sublime musicianship which culminated in a Casio VL-Tone solo from Godfrey. Who says progressive rock takes itself too seriously? I don’t think the members of Frost* got that memo.
The band return and finish off with Heartstrings and a wonderful run through Repeat To Fade.
How do you know a band plays progressive rock without them telling you that they’re a progressive rock band? When they’re on stage for 1 hour and 40 minutes and play ten songs.
Their gig at Bath’s Komedia the night before was recorded for future release, and if tonight’s gig in Islington was anything to go by, it will be a must-purchase.
Progressive rock is alive and well, and with Frost*, it has a healthy dose of humour to add to the technical difficulty.