Three Friends Preview: Tonight Sussex, tomorrow the World!

Tonight, June 8 2010, a small town close to England’s South Coast becomes the centre of my musical world. Lewes in East Sussex might well be home of one of the finest of Englands traditional small breweries, but even for a beer lover like me, this malty fact is insignficant compared to the knowledge that the music of the mighty Gentle Giant will be played live at the unlikely venue of of the All Saints Centre. And I wouldn’t miss it for all the mild in Harveys.

OK, Three Friends are not Gentle Giant re-united, but they do boast actual former members in guitarist Gary Green and drummer Malcolm Mortimore. The Lewes gig is the only one in the UK before the band heads off for a couple of dates in Canada and a couple more in America, including the progressive rock festival NEARfest. The final date listed on the band’s website is another progressive rock festival date in Germany. (I do hate the term “prog”.)

So if only two band members are ex-GG, even if keyboard main-man Kerry Minnear was in the band (more of that later) does that make 3F a tribute band, and if so, why get so excited about them?

Now, I don’t have a problem with tribute bands. I don’t even have a problem with bands trading on an ancient famous name, with only one original member left (not the case with 3F). As long as the music is true to the spirit of the band they are covering, it’s fine by me. I find it odd that some tribute bands want to dress up and look like their heroes, as seen on the very dodgy “I’m in a Rock n Roll Band, Live” on BBC2 last Saturday.

Three Friends play the music of Gentle Giant, and more than do it right. And, if any further reason were required to gain my approval, they play songs that the original band never played live. So I don’t have a problem with them; fine musicians serving the music. In fact I rejoice in their very existence. Thankfully, the white jumpsuit and satin Robin Hood gear are nowhere to be seen. However, if I, and a huge part (if not all) of the remaining fans of Gentle Giant don’t have a problem with Three Friends, Ray Shulman, clearly DOES have a problem with Three Friends’ existence.

Ray Shulman was not only the bass player and multi-instrumentalist, he was one of the main composers of Gentle Giant’s revered cannon, along with Kerry Minnear. He maybe feels affronted by Three Friends making money off his work, I don’t know. What I DO know is this music deserves to be heard live. See for yourself, and if you can’t make one of the live dates, there are some cracking vids on YouTube taken both from concerts and live in the studio.

Three Freinds website

Gentle Giant official website

Just the Same Three Friends Live at the Ropetackle Shoreham, with Kerry Minnear in October 2009

School Days Three Friends in the Studio

Buy the newly-released 180 gm direct metal vinyl versions of two classic Gentle Giant albums: The Power and the Glory, and In a Glass House, direct from the band.

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