Kscope is a very special record label. “They have now managed to create what’s almost a movement […] They’re one of the best labels in the world,” said singer Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema. Their story begins in the late 90s with Porcupine Tree’s records Stupid Dream (1999) and Lightbulb Sun (2000), although at the time it was only under the direction of mother label Snapper Music. Kscope pursued the target of conceiving a home for post-progressive and art-rock acts, and they finally set about in 2008 with the signing of The Pineapple Thief and Engineers.
Fast forward ten years, the label has signed a wide variety of artists, such as Steven Wilson, TesseracT, Gazpacho, Tangerine Dream and The Anchoress, amongst many other projects. As a way to celebrate those ten years in the progressive rock spotlight, they assembled a very special night at extraordinary venue Union Chapel.
Some history behind the venue: the original Union Chapel was built in a Gothic revival style in 1806, when Islington as a village had only 10,000 inhabitants. Some years later, in the 1870s, Dr Henry Allon became the church’s pastor and decided that the chapel would be re-built and made suitable for music. The venue’s rose window shows angels playing musical instruments. Nowadays, the Chapel is a well-known music venue in North London.
The progressive evening: doors opened at 6.15pm and the show started at 7pm sharp. Nosound frontman Giancarlo Erra kicked off as the first performer with an acoustic set which included tracks from Nosound’s recently released album Allow Yourself (September 2018). After a short four-song set, Giancarlo thanked Kscope for being ‘the best label in the world’ and left the stage for the extremely talented Russian pianist Gleb Kolyadin.
Fighting bad news with a pleasant surprise: when the #10YearsofKscope event was first announced, iamthemorning were initially going to perform. At the very last minute, the band was forced to pull out due to some administrative issues from iamthemorning member Marjana Semkina, who had her UK visa application turned down. When Gleb Kolyadin – presented as ‘barocanroll’ – hit the stage on his own, performing tracks from his self-titled solo album Gleb Kolyadin (February 2018), he brought a very special guest to everyone’s liking: Marillion’s Steve Hogarth. Together they performed ‘The Best of Days’, a song Gleb had recorded with Hogarth in the first place. Gleb’s piano had a warm, peaceful and thumping sound; its melodies merged with the atmosphere in the chapel, creating a very suitable climate for goosebump production.
Marillionized: when Hogarth and Kolyadin jumped off the stage, everyone presumed they were done. Nevertheless, Steve – or H, as most fans call him – returned and got his hands on the piano, which ‘took half the budget’, as the event’s presenter admitted. Someone in the crowd suddenly shouted: ‘Fantastic Place!’. That seemed to strike a chord with Steve, who immediately began to play Marillion’s hit. Not only did he perform ‘Fantastic Place’, but he also delivered ‘The Hollow Man’ for stunned Marillion fans.
The Brits take over: Godsticks, a four-piece prog-metal band from Wales, got in the stage for a short two-song set. After them, Liverpudlian Paul Draper, with a potent acoustic set, accompanied by Ben Sink on the electric guitar. Paul Draper, former frontman of rock band Mansun, seemed to act as a mix between John Lennon and Pete Townshend. Surprising with a neat falsetto, Draper apologised for not plugging his guitar during the first song while drinking his tea. He played some of his solo tracks, finishing the set with famous Mansun hit ‘Wide Open Space’ (1996), from Mansun’s debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern. The band’s opera prima was remastered and reissued in June 2018.
One last goodbye: after a 30-minute interval, it was Anathema’s turn. It seemed that every attendee had been eagerly waiting for them, as the chapel was suddenly packed. Danny Cavanagh jumped on stage with an acoustic guitar as he started looping ‘Springfield’. Little by little all the Anathema members began to show up while the audience did not cease to clap. ‘Thin Air’, ‘Can’t Let Go’ and ‘Closer’ continued to adapt the band’s echo to the church, ever so accurate. For ‘Anathema’ a violinist joined the crew and the public could not be more elated with the emotional spectacle. ‘Distant Satellites’ seemed to drift away from the typical song categorization and took all present on a progressive interstellar journey, especially thanks to the sound effects and the powerful, hypnotising imagery on the projected screens. When ‘A Natural Disaster’ began, the band asked concertgoers to put their phones up with some sort of bright light, and so the chapel was abruptly gleaming. The voyage got to its end with ‘Untouchable Part 1’ and ‘Untouchable Part 2’. “I had to let you go”, chorused the mature prog audience in a very heartfelt fashion. Anathema’s grand finale had converted an otherwise quiet, easy-going prog assembly into a roaring teenager fan base. What a magnificent evening.
To wrap up such a special evening, Kscope delivered free CDs including an exclusive playlist with tracks from their artist roster.
We would like to thank Kscope Music for the excellent event carried out and wish them many happy returns. May they continue to collect and boost progressive talent for many years to come.