Through their inter-woven folk/rock prog-rock compositions, Elaine Samuels and KINDRED SPIRIT explore the magic of our existence.
We saw their spring show this week at the new community facility in the heart of Twickenham, in the excellent 320-seat theatre at Brewery Wharf — known as The Exchange.
Under a bright star-pentagram, an ancient sign of cyclic transformation, the show started with the driving energy of a new number.
“Pandora’s Box” had dragon-skin rhythms from Aleem Saleh on drums, enchanted voices from both Elaine and Catherine, threaded stringwork from the talented Martin Ash on violin and spiral water-snakes of pure enchantment from Catherine Dimmock on flute.
Their “Beast” cycle came in the first half of the concert. With “Run Red” perhaps the most melancholic part of the set-piece. Cloudy with violin mists, this lyrical “feminist historical anthem…” was performed with great majesty and artfulness.
Elaine explained that the song was inspired by a challenge given by a fan.
He dared her to write a song influenced by Alan Moore’s American Gothic story “The Cursed.”
The final part of the song-cycle was the Dylanesque and haunting “Wolves at the Gate.”
As well as the amazing song ‘Kindred Spirit’ with its gentle meanders, we also enjoyed the mysticism of ‘Children of the Stars’ a song that explored our shared journey across the universe, with yearning sax from Catherine.
We were also treated to a second apocalyptic new number [from their forthcoming fan-funded album.)
Titled “Red Rose” it began with a tribal drum then slowly built into a fiddle-dee-ree urban jig of wonderful proportions. The number was truly cinematic in scope.
The highpoint of the Twickenham show was, for us, the third new song from the much anticipated album. Titled “Daemons” this was the first time it had been played in public.
A prowling pace was set-up by drummer Aleem with loitering moodiness from Mike Hislop on bass.
Then began the ever-fermenting and promiscuously potent concoction of sounds.
With a frenzy of fire from Martin’s violin strings and lots of lucid provocation from Catherine… this was possibly the only true “prog rock” number of the night. Boy, what a stunner!
Kindred Spirit gave us seductive treasures, moments of complete serenity, and songs of constant wonder. A great show. We can’t wait for the next album.
The FOUR PLAY FESTIVAL is a low profile affair held at the Acoustic Couch in Bracknell and organized by local progressive rock band SPRIGGAN MIST.
It is a celebration of folk-prog talent and attracts an unprecedented array of free-spirited individuals, including [but not limited to] steampunks, pagans, hippies, fair folk and people of peace.
The unhurried schedule means that bands have enough time on stage to deploy their longest songs and tackle their most extravagant numbers.
The Acoustic Couch is a community project built in the concrete heart of Bracknell town and offers locals a pleasant and welcoming place to come and enjoy live music.
First on stage at FOUR PLAY were the five-piece JADE VINE based in London. This band was formed by the brothers Constantine (guitars, vocals) & Marios Magdalinos (guitars, vocals) in 2006.
Constantine & Marios wrote the first songs and gigged extensively as a duet before bringing the band together. At Bracknell we saw Mila Verney (piano & keyboards) and Yannis Paloyannidis (bass) with Babis Margaritidis (drums.)
We enjoyed songs like “Lost it All” that had a shimmering murkiness to them. We loved the repetitive guitar motifs and the slightly off-kilter drum-work. We also appreciated the vocals that we thought were reminiscent of Fish. Their neo-prog achievements soared with mind-blowing musical content, astounding lyrics and expert musicianship. Their 2016 album “MIND OF A MAN” is out now.
We’ve written about Elaine Samuels and her band KINDRED SPIRIT many times before.
It was great to see them onstage at Bracknell bringing their extraordinarily beautiful prog-folk songs to life and creating a series of imaginatively elaborate musical ideas.
“Wolves at the Door” had a fretful sax [Catherine Dimmock] and lamenting violin [Martin Ash ]and created ever-developing sensations of enhanced anxiety.
The song formed part of what Elaine described as the “Beast” cycle — consisting of three songs . The cycle was completed by “Run Red.” This had tranquilizing yet sinister textures — peacemaker flute with violin flares.
The bass-play on this song was excellent too [Mike Hislop] as was Catherine’s backing vocals. The remarkable thing about Kindred Spirit was that the band soldiered on without their drummer [he was taken ill at short notice] yet they managed to deliver a very polished and surprisingly tight performance.
Cult Welsh prog band MULTI STORY was formed in the 1980s.
Around the dramatic vocal performance of Paul Ford and Rob Wilsher’s wizard keyboards and superlative programming.
At that time  the band was invited to the BBC Maida Vale studio to record a session for Radio One Rock Show with Tommy Vance. The band was signed to Heavy Metal Records [FM label] and recorded a debut album in 1985 at Rockfield Studios.
Paul Ford was replaced by Grant Nicholas [who went on to be the Feeder front-man] and Grant worked on an album with the band in 1986 :Through Your Eyes — though the project broke up shortly afterwards.
The members of Multi Story went on to have successful careers in production and film projects and more recently, the original writing partners Rob Wilsher and Paul Ford starting working again. A new band began playing shows during 2015 in support of their project “Crimson Stone.”
Paul’s delivery at Bracknell was dramatically poignant — bordering on theatrical at times — and included some superior guitar-play. Rob’s keyboards were, as expected, sheer quality of class. A series of oscillations, waves and huge columns of sound. The song-melodies were catchy — with instant appeal. And often reminded us of 1969 era The Who.
If this event is to become something more ambitious in the future then the organizers will have to watch their ticket sales. [Fifteen pounds is good for a “full day of music” but too much for locals who might want to drop-in to catch just one or two bands.] They should also look at the possibility of wider promotion. It looked as if most of the audience consisted of “Sprigg” fan-club members or supporting musicians.
FOUR PLAY was a completely enjoyable way to spend a day. With hugely talented performers, friendly hosts and good (cheap) beer. What’s not to like?
Thanks to all involved… especially the co-hosts Spriggan Mist & Kindred Spirit and their fantastic crew. Also thanks to the staff at Acoustic Couch who made this special day so friendly.
The Four Play Festival held at the Acoustic Couch In Bracknell was a female fronted feast. A celebration of beautifully hand-crafted talent.
We traveled in from Staines to attend this dedicated one-day festival on April 10th. It was held in a concrete basement unit in the centre of the (still restructuring) town.
The wonderful fun began with a band from Surrey — the adorably smooth and sensually aromatic duo QUIET WISH (we were told it rhymes with night-wish) which is the creation of Carola Baer with David J Lambert. We really enjoyed the folds & layers of synth and guitar that coexisted so fluently with the gently wavering motion of Carola’s voice.
Slightly trip-hoppy, this band from Woking played a wonderful set of delicately crafted and organic numbers. Each long note seemed to have its own ethical reasons for existence… Each song had a deeply moral sense of duty. Yet these political undertones did not interfere with the serene quality of the vibrations. The elongated guitar notes — often stretched beyond recognition by David — adorned the hauntingly beautiful yet strong hearted voice. The jammed songs — the ones that had never before been played to an audience — with guest guitarist Dave Salisbury were the best.
Prayerful and meditative.
The London five- piece THE FAR MEADOW were on next. This group was slightly more forceful, slightly less fragile… though they were no less talented.
There’s was an extremely enjoyable set marred — perhaps just a little — by the lead vocals from singer Marguirita. She seemed to be experiencing some technical difficulties throughout the performance, unable to match her pitch to the instrumentals. However, the band’s output was finely crafted and invigorating.
We were very much looking forwards to seeing SPRIGGAN MIST again, and they didn’t let us down. We love the folk traditions that swirl within their songs. And we could also hear calypso and even ska rhythms in some of their numbers.
These sounds, helped along by a squirt of sax from Max, or some bravely slapping bass-notes from Baz, reminded us that Kate Bush experimented with exotic rhythms just like these on her album “The Kick Inside”.
Our favourite song was the sexily bubbling tune about Mermaids titled “Secrets” – this was a slinky vortex. Dangerously hypnotic!
We were not sure if the stylish and fun dancers — they uncoiled directly in front of the band during some of the numbers — were a distraction rather than an attraction …
Headlining the festival was KINDRED SPIRIT. We thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Phoenix’ from their most recent album ‘Phoenix Rising’ but we still preferred their older masterpiece Metamorphosis .
We were entertained by the high-spirited mischief from prog-god in-the-making Martin Ash on violin. (His first appearance with the band.)
Drummer Chris Goode was also on top form. And we loved Catherine Dimmock’s cheerful vocals and soothing flute. Elaine’s lead vocals were, as usual, nectar-sweet and filled with personality.
Their phantasmal rendition of “A Horse with No Name” summed up the whole evening quite well …
This song captured the mystical atmosphere and the psychedelic magic of the event.
What a jubilant occasion!
Thanks to all involved… but especially to the talented co-hosts of Kindred Spirit and Spriggan Mist . And praise must also go to the Acoustic Couch in Bracknell whose warm hosting made this such a special night.
If you live in the North Surrey or West London areas and you like to come out and support live music once-in-a-while, then it is almost certain that you will have seen Elaine Samuels and her band Kindred Spirit playing live. Elaine is simply the hardest working music-maker on our local scene — playing regular concerts throughout the area. A real asset to the community.
And last Saturday night — 18th April — was Elaine’s special night. Because it was the launch show for Kindred Spirit’s new album “Phoenix Rising”. Held at St. Augustine’s Church, Whitton — with money raised from the concert going to the wonderful local charity “Homelink”.
The show started with a Fleetwood Mac cover to loosen things up… then right away we went into the first track of the album titled ‘Kindred Spirit.’
This had mellow beginnings that grew magnificently into vibrant reflections. It was a clever composition and, right away, we knew we were in for a great evening.
Second track ‘Life is a Circus’ was one of our favourites. It was poppy and totally clap-along enjoyable.
The acoustics of the church were not entirely favourable for the acute and often smooth-rolling voice of Elaine. But the instrumental accompaniments always hit-the-spot. With sparkling violin (and even creative pizzicato on at least one song from the impressively talented Gavin Jones) and astonishing flute and sax play (from the multi-talented Catherine Dimmock) plus reliable and poetic bass-play from Mike Hislop (he also provided smooth and efficient backing vox. )
Les Binks (best known as the drummer from Judas Priest) provided the artistic and well-balanced percussion.
At one point there were at least eight musicians on stage (many of the musicians who had worked on the recording had made special journeys to be able to join Elaine for this special night) and the pews were packed with delighted music lovers. It was a celebration of all the best things in life… Good company, wonderful sounds and a peaceful, sacred place to meditate on those things that we sometimes take for granted.
A high-point of the evening was “A Horse with No Name” (written, oddly enough, by a man from England named Dewey Bunnell) but made famous by ‘America’ for ‘America’. This song can also be found on the new album by Kindred Spirit.
Other covers included a lively and bouncy version of “Lola” (Kinks), which we appreciated, but mostly this was a night of self-written compositions. And creative excellence.
And so by the time we reached the rise of ‘The Phoenix’ we felt proud and lucky to be witnessing this first ever public performance of the album in full. This song is an impressive number — complicated enough to be considered ‘Prog’ — but not intimidating in any way. It is easy to get into… And at St. Augustine’s Church it was a beautiful and harmonious piece.
Congratulations to Elaine and all of the band at Kindred Spirit — thanks for putting on such an excellent evening of musical entertainment.
And we wish you every success with this rather special new album.
When hundreds of police and judicial officers were mobilized to evict the Gypsies at Dale Farm in Essex (the largest concentration of travellers in the UK) the TV cameras identified a young Irish traveller girl who stood, staring imploringly, directly into the camera lens.
She said “What will we do when all the hippies are gone?”
“The last one is leaving soon… Who will protect us then?” The girl was referring to the New Age travellers camped in the adjacent fields. These Peacenicks from ‘Dale Farm Solidarity’ had started leaving in their “peace convoys” before the anticipated trouble began. But the girl with the wide eyes and warning words haunted me for a long time after the event. “What will we do when all the hippies are gone?”
Elaine Samuels and her incredibly talented band may not be pleased to be compared with new age hippies. But, as it turns out, just like those disappearing Hippies — they too believe in beauty, love and honesty.
And they seek to explore the transitory nature of life on their new album ‘Phoenix Rising. ’ The album is a collection of their most recent songs (some written as long ago as 2000 – and some as recently as 2013) — and these songs have been thoroughly ‘road-tested’ to audiences around Surrey and West London.
The first song sets out the stall. ‘Kindred Spirit’ has soft shimmering beginnings and the main vocal (from songwriter and dynamic front-woman Elaine) is almost spoken at times (reminding us of Jefferson Airplane… Perhaps with Grace at her smokiest.)
Yet Elaine’s voice is sophisticated and clear — never San Francisco foggy — in its exposition. At times her voice is magnificently high — stepping daintily — and dancing with flute and tortured violin. This first track also has an exotic oriental flavour — with sounds fluttering freely from tall minarets of rhythm.
On “Life is a circus …” Elaine sings with accustomed ease. This is almost beat-pop in style and substance, but with some folk tradition still remaining intact.
Then follows the most Dylanesque song on the album. And also one of our favourites — the ominous ‘Wolves at the Door.’ In our new world the howling dogs are not contained outside the walls of the city. They do not bay at the city gates begging to come in. No, the beasts now live inside the walls with us. They sneak through our defenses to gnaw at us while we sleep.
These wolves will ooze through the optical fibres, sneak through radio waves, and romp through our networks. These days, a person’s soul can be eaten while he or she remain unconscious to the threat. The nervy guitars accentuate that threat, while fretful sax and lamenting violin create feelings of increasing anxiety.
We experience more Grace Slick on “It’s Not Too Late” — this time with sympathetic congas and illuminating violin.
This song seems to offer up some salvation from the wolves. But is the offering of help too late for us?
After a passionate, panting and haunting cover of “A Horse with No Name” and then the ‘Drunken Landlady’ we arrive at the brackish jig called “Feed the Fire”.
This has a charcoal riff and centres on the premise that we build our beds, our homes, our cities and our civilization… Higher, ever higher. Bolder, ever bolder.
This Kindred Spirit album seems all about facing up to the hidden dangers and the stored-up menaces presented to us in the modern world. But salvation is offered by the band. Through music. The sounds and words invite us to think freely.
‘Children of the Stars’ explores our journey. With some superb synth-work by Jez Larder, and yearning sax by Catherine Dimmock, plus some very impressive percussion from David Rowe, this is a mystical track.
No matter that this album contains some right-on New Age messages. Or that some of the songs (especially the last one — ‘The Phoenix’) might seem more at home on the soundtrack to “Hair” the Musical than on a modern disc. The subtexts and messages still remain vital and ought to be a fundamental source of inspiration.
The last song, with serpentine violin and extraordinarily subtle backing vocals, invites us to consider the burning of everything we once loved (and we think we need.) And then to address the rebirth of our existence. There is hope. But it is in flame. And in the rising stars of ash. Only the embers of our material substance will help us to be re-born. We must embrace our spirituality. Hold on to our nature. And retain our curiosity and fascination with the magic of our existence.
Maybe it’s true. Perhaps, now, all the hippies are gone.
But at least Kindred Spirit show us, here, how to live in dignity. And how to be prepared for re-birth.
This is a creative, progressive folk-rock album with some extraordinarily beautiful songs and a host of imaginative and wonderfully crafted ideas. Written for our generation.
There is a certain regal oak named ‘Kindred Spirit’ … but for us
“Kindred Spirit” means only one thing … the locally based five-piece, electric folk rock band that features the radiant and deeply moving voice of Elaine Samuels.
The band line up also includes Gavin Jones (electric violin) Catherine Dimmock (flute and sax) Mike Hislop (bass) and Les Binks (former drummer for Judas Priest.)
The band are about to release their stunning new album Phoenix Rising – and we have been watching the project unfold and develop.
We’ve been having a sneaky listen to some of their (yet unreleased) tracks currently being recorded @SkylineStudios by @JezLarder:
Opening song “Kindred Spirits” certainly contains the ethereal quality you might find in early Moody Blues.
It has that dramatic “Threshold of a Dream…” feel about it.
This has a soulful flute and intricate acoustic guitars that embroider the surface.
The finest crystal bell clear voice ripples seamlessly through the
vision … creating a sort of divine salvation.
We also heard the jaunty number “The Phoenix” with its trotting pace and pizzicato strings.
The violin animates the piece (although it maintains a shaded heart.)
This song seems to be about facing all that is left … (in other words, the “Ashes” ) trying to make sense of them … before you can even hope to fly again.
Finality and sadness has to be visited upon us before we can hope of being re-born.
This song reminded us of Renaissance (the rock band) around their ‘Novella’ period.
It immediately draws the listener into enormous depths – the pay-off is complex, exciting and invaluable.
What can be better than sharing a well drawn pint or two with some like-minded friends, whilst listening to a quality live performance from some of the finest musicians in the business? The Riverside Club in Staines has been attracting some of the big names from the music world to its humble riverside home of late. Last Thursday the club welcomed through the doors the undeniable talent of locally based folk-rock band Kindred Spirit. Folk-Rock is experiencing something of a renaissance recently – Fairport Convention and Pentangle are still with us charming the audiences… and now we have a new generation of groups like Mumford & Sons and Midlake to take us up to the next level, and some exciting and experimenting bands like Fleet Foxes, to reassure us the genre is far from dead.
Kindred Spirit (playing as a three piece at Staines Riverside Club) have those lush harmonies and emotional power that you come to expect from this kind of group. The violin from Gavin Jones is exuberant and fresh and the feverish pipes and flute (and sax) from Annie Parker leaves you tingling inside. Across this chiming, piping-hot, spiky landscape comes the lush and gently unassuming vocals of Elaine Samuels, whose voice is reminiscent of the late Sandy Denny.
The first half of the set (before the club’s obligatory raffle) was vaguely ‘horse related’ and the second half was ‘sea travel’ related. I do not know if this was planned or a happy accident. So, in the first half, we had such traditional-sounding delights as ‘The Galway Farmer’ (Devon folk duo ‘Show of Hands’ – 1992) with those scuffed and skiffling fiddles and ne’er-do-well jaunty pipes. And “A Horse with No Name” (‘America’ 1972) with those esoteric chords and the haunting sense of loss along with reverberant regret. In here too were some ambitious songs like Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ with some extremely enjoyable woven interplay from Annie and Gavin and Elaine’s voice perched high above – as teasing as a wood lark.
The second half incorporated plenty of sea-wall imagery. A perfect rendition of “Martha’s Harbour” (‘All About Eve’ – 1988) depicted the agony of waiting by the waves for a true love to return from across the churning sea. But this song was somewhat diminished by Kindred Spirit’s own composition “I’ll Always Love You” (from the “Dance of Life” album). This song reminded me of Fleetwood Mac circa 1977 (the band often plays ‘The Chain’ to great applause at gigs,) but once it started, it settled down to a lustrous and emotive folk-rock ballad. Annie’s flute was like a sea-bird fluttering in the sea-breeze, but the power and surge of the fiddle was like the sea-spray fiercely spitting into your face. Luckily, Elaine’s deliciously smooth vocals took you back to an altogether warmer, more friendly and infinitely more welcoming place. This was, for me, the high point of the evening.
Kindred Spirit’s own songs are full of mystery and magic. Their compositions are sometimes as haunting as a cold-dread phantom and at other times as fleet footed as a mountain gazelle. The clear articulation of Elaine’s vocals over and above the elaborate and intricate solos from Gavin and Annie, often leave you on the edge of your seat with excitement.
“Lady Eleanor” (Lindisfarne) started with an intro that reminded me of a (little slower) “Long Train Runnin “ (Doobie Brothers.) The original version had a more mystical East feel to it. The song immediately embarks upon a magical journey brought alive by the mysterious and foggy delights of Elaine’s silken, breathy vocals.
Lola (Kinks) was another popular cover. Full of teasing and almost giggling violin and flute. Annie and Gavin provided quirky backing vocals. On the original song Ray Davies played a steel bodied resonator-type guitar on this track… which gives the song more pinch, pluck and plonk – the Kindred Spirit version is more whimsical lyrically and smoother instrumentally, with a much softer guitar sound from Elaine.
Finishing off the show with an exuberant version of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”, the audience was left stunned by a performance which was both truly refreshing and full of vigorous energy. An amazing evening.
You can see Kindred Spirit play with Blue Onyx (The Moody Blues Tribute Band) at The Leatherhead Theatre on Saturday 4 December. Or check their website for more local concerts. See links below.