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The Prog Awards 2017 as they happened

It’s that time of the year again: when the great and good of the progressive music scene don their finery and come together to celebrate the music we all love. Here's how it all went down...

Sir Lenny Henry. Let’s just repeat that. Sir. Lenny. Henry. At the Progressive Music Awards. And no, this wasn’t just a gratuitous invitation sent to the great comedian in order to get cheap publicity. He’s there with King Crimson’s Jakko Jakszyk. And what’s more, Sir Lenny embraces the occasion with real vigour.

He’s very keen on the impressive Roger Dean exhibition put together for the night by Trading Boundaries, and even makes a point of telling John Miles, recipient of the Outstanding Musical Achievement award, how much he loved one of Miles’ shows back in 1975! There’s no doubt Sir Lenny is charmed by the convivial atmosphere. But then, that’s what makes the Progressive Music Awards special.

“Everywhere I look in the room, it’s full of friends or blasts from the past,” says Mike Portnoy, a sentiment echoed by his Sons Of Apollo bandmate Derek Sherinian.

“This is my first time here,” Sherinian says. “It’s amazing. Just seeing so many legends, and they’re all approachable. It’s like a big family.”

Prog editor Jerry Ewing emphasises the special atmosphere here in his introductory speech, reflecting on the remarkably positive vibe. He also reads out part of a lengthy letter from the absent Rick Wakeman. This is the first Progressive Music Awards that Wakeman has missed, as he’s currently on tour with Yes featuring ARW, and he’s clearly very disappointed not to be here. Mind you, most of his missive is apparently, erm, too inappropriate, as only Wakeman can be!

Prior to the awards themselves, the Beatrix Players perform two songs. One is their new single All That Thinking, and they also play a highly stylised version of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, which seduces everyone with its texture and grace. The band also pick up the opening award of the night, Limelight, which proves to be a very popular choice.

Everyone is then left stunned by host Matthew Wright’s choice of attire as he takes to the stage. As Marillion’s Steve Hogarth later remarks: “It looks like something I scraped off the roof this morning!”

This is Wright’s fourth year as host, and he has never looked more in tune with the occasion. Short of donning a cape, he couldn’t have looked more elaborate in his patterned velvet suit. “This suit screams prog!” Wright exclaims as he gets into the groove.

The aforementioned Jakszyk makes the first of two appearances onstage, picking up the Video Of The Year Award on behalf of King Crimson for Heroes. But he has a little surprise up his sleeve, or rather in his jacket: he pulls out a letter, which has a short message from none other than Robert Fripp: “King Crimson were created for the video age. And now the public has finally acknowledged this.”

Well, it’s better than just saying, “Thanks!”

The acclaimed festival Be Prog! My Friend wins the award for Event Of The Year, while Steve Hillage picks up the Reissue Of The Year award for Searching For The Spark, and Anathema’s Vinnie Cavanagh is delighted to be sitting next to Hillage tonight.


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