at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., November 13, 2014

In most bands the keyboard player is more often than not banished to the side of the stage out of harm’s way but not so in American Prog Rock band Bigelf where Damon Fox takes centre stage imprisoned on both sides by an impressive array of vintage keyboards from Mini Moogs, Hammond Organs and the king of Prog instruments, the Mellotron.

For a fair few years it looked as though Bigelf would be unable to capitalise on the success of their Cheat the Gallows album as internal divisions and personal issues threatened to tear the band apart and after a long period of inactivity it was former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy who urged Fox, who has recently worked with Lisa Marie Presley and former 4 Non Blonds singer Linda Perry, to take up the gauntlet once more. Fast forward a couple of years and everything was back on track.

Big Elf

On the second date of their biggest headlining tour so far and their first ever show in Newcastle Bigelf were shoehorned onto the small stage of the Academy 2 with bassist Duffy Snowhill and last minute stand in guitarist, the hugely classy John Wesley from Porcupine Tree, perched either side of the stage flanking Fox’s enormodrome keyboard rig that made the bridge of the Starship Enterprise look like an Airfix toy.

Fox himself was the ringmaster of the show decked out in a top hat and enough guyliner to make Johnny Depp weep while straddling 2 banks of keyboards.  You’d have thought that this would restrain his performance somewhat but nothing could be further from the truth as he made full use of what little space he had to maximum effect.

BigelfWith a style coming across like a collision between The Beatles and Black Sabbath with a judicious hint of ELO, Queen and Sweet creating a toxic blend of unique and quirky Progressive Rock that was both scintillating and hugely addictive while being bathed in wonderful melodies and atmospheric textures that weaved around the complex song structures.  Their latest album Into The Maelstrom was healthily represented throughout the set with “Alien Frequency” and “Edge of Oblivion” transposing well onto the stage. It was however, unfortunate that “Mr. Harry McQuhae,” a major highlight from the album and a heart wrenching tribute to their fallen band mate A.H.B Butler-Jones  was absent from the set.

While it may sound over serious and self-important the show was anything but that as the imposing and hugely charismatic Fox kept things lighthearted enjoying regular interaction with the enthusiastic Newcastle crowd and with any luck a return visit on a bigger stage may not be too far off.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.