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Progressive Rock Concert Reviews

Puppet Show

Live CalProg, May, 2007

Review by Michael Bader

It’s 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Most musicians have only been asleep 4 or 5 hours unless they are desperately trying to finish material for a pending new release deadline. During this revelry call, members of the northern California progressive rock group, Puppet Show, were rubbing their eyes and scratching their “records” in preparation of their early call to open 2007’s version of CalProg.
Puppet Show was one of four bands in CalProg’s lineup this day, which included east coast groups, Frogg Café, Spiraling and the Rudess-Morgenstein Project. However this day Puppet Show was clearly the Prog band of the day with their progressive Genesis like sound, while some songs might be called metal-prog.

Puppet Show was fantastic and they were an amazing opening to this progressive festival which is promoted annually by Jim “Papa J” Harrel. During and after the show, their repertoire with the audience was very special.

John Warren
 
John Warren
   
This and future performances are in support of their second album (the newly released, The Tale of Woe). This day was to be Puppet Show's first west coast appearance in over 7 years. Their first album, Traumatized, was released in 1997. Reality hit this band hard in the early 2000’s causing lineup and management changes that delayed their 2nd album for almost 9 years.

The band favored long tracks like “Ring of Truth” and “Marathon” from their Traumatized album. Renditions of “Harold Cain” and “God’s Angry Men” from the ...Woe album were included in their set this morning.

John Warren
 
John Warren
   
The cornerstone of a progressive band begins with a tight and solid rhythm section while framing virtuoso keyboards and lead guitar leads around them. Craig Polson and Chris Mack on bass and drums, respectively, were tight and precise even for the early morning pole position. The power and energy of Chris Ogburn on guitar and the progressive keyboard riffs of Mike Grimes were filled with pleasant surprises throughout most of their 90 minute set. Lead vocalist, Sean Frazier, sang with strong conviction and was intensely expressive.

I’m a huge progressive Genesis fan, a loyal Yes listener, an ELP faithful and a Crimson lover. Why have I never heard of this band before? No sense in crying over it, they just need to be added to the collection.

John Warren
 
John Warren
   
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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