The Prog Report Presents “Prog from Home” Multiple Artists
  • 5/5
Reviewed by Jordan Blum

“Prog from Home” signified how viable, worthwhile, and necessary live online concerts can be.

Over the past two months, dozens of professional musicians have kept active and spread positivity through live online recitals. Be they off-the-cuff informal hangouts with fans (like Ben Folds’ recent “Apartment Requests” stints) or more formal and altruistic endeavors (like Devin Townsend’s “Quarantine Project” series), these artists are doing all they can support and thank applicable people while establishing deeper connections with fans. That said, arguably no other at-home venture tops yesterday’s “Prog from Home,” a three-hour block of “some of the biggest names in progressive rock” playing one song each “while at home during the current quarantine.” Organized by one of the biggest publications in the genre—The Prog Report—it was a ceaselessly endearing and enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

According to Prog Report founder Roie Avin, the process for putting it all together was exhaustive but relatively simple and significantly rewarding. He explains: “We first reached out to about a dozen artists to test the waters. Once we got those approvals, we reached out to more. There were no rules. Just send a home performance. They picked the song, the style, etc. We tried to just create a good flow and not bog it down too much.” He’s also quick to give contributor Daniel Levy credit for doing “an amazing job” with the editing, as well as Geoff Bailie for his assistance in putting the show together. Outside of merely having some fun while coming together to share their love of the genre, viewers were consistently encouraged to “support and celebrate doctors, nurses, first responders, health-care workers, and all [others] affected by the current global crisis.” The YouTube stream (which you can watch below) even includes links to many charities, including WHO, Americares,, Sweet Relief Musician Fund, and Spotify Music Relief. Thus, the inherent communal vibe that carries most prog rock gatherings was heightened by the special circumstances facing virtually the entire planet.

Truthfully, it would be extraneous to devote a separate paragraph to the ins and outs of each presentation (since there were over two dozen of them). Suffice it to say, though, that each one offered its own benefits in terms of both the unique rendition of the chosen track and the method by which the artist chose to film it. (See the accompanying gallery for some glimpses into how “Prog from Home” was done). Commendably, the pre-show consisted of a Prog Report cover of Transatlantic’s “We All Need Some Light” as a clock counted down and a montage of concert footage from relevant bands segued into the title card. From there, Avin naturally greeted viewers by thanking them (and the acts) for their participation and support. Afterward, things got underway, with roughly 6,000 people watching at its peak.

The first band was Welsh outfit Magenta, who did a perfectly synced version of “The Lizard King” as the screen was divided into shots of each member. It conjured classics by Renaissance and Curved air, so it was a great way to start. Next, virtuoso Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales) sat by his keyboard in the garden and spliced together faultless and humble deliveries of Genesis’ “Firth the Fifth” and his own “Hygge.” This led to Marbin guitarist Dani Rabin sitting by his hanging guitars for the compellingly classy “Nuages” before John Wesley sat in his studio for a surprisingly metallic take on Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” His voice sounded as distinguished as ever, and the distorted nature of it was interesting, to say the least.

Subsequently, lovably tongue-in-cheek newcomer Moron Police delighted with another at-home multicamera routine (of “The Undersea”), while The Fierce and the Dead’s Matt Stevens and Kevin Feazey split the screen evenly for the multilayered and calming “Ark.” Sweet Invention (husband and wife duo Randy and Pamela George) went a warmer route with the folky “Calico Man,” which demonstrated their knack for shared vocals and interlocking acoustic guitar constructions. Fittingly, Randy’s Neal Morse Band bandmate Eric Gillette took over with a touching original piano ballad, “Above the Sky,” eventually leading to Dave Kerzner (ex-Sound of Contact) playing “Into the Sun” with guitarist Fernando Perdomo and vocalist Durga McBroom. Visually, the segment alternated between full screen shots of each of them, and it was easily among the most intriguing and inventive portions of “Prog from Home,” especially with Perdomo’s lively electric guitar antics.

They were followed by some real prog rock royalty, too, as John Mitchell dedicated his lone keyboard execution of It Bites’ “The Last Escape” to the memory of Andrew Colgan. Unexpectedly, he then removed his black backdrop and invited viewers to accompany him for earthly and celestial drone montage suitable for his second piece, Lonely Robots’ “The Red Balloon.” Considering how the core narrative of the Lonely Robot trilogy is all about isolation, connection, and existential purpose, it helped emphasize the underlying message of “Prog from Home”: we’re all in this together. Not to be outdone, Ross Jennings appeared next for his own duo of tunes. First, he and the rest of his new side project, Novena, did the stellar “Sun Dance” (solidifying their place as a terrific up-and-coming group); second, he and Haken guitarist Charlie Griffiths switched to a B&W filter for their superb copy of Queen’s “Is This the World We Created…?”

Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz had a great time literally playing with himself (through camera and editing trickery) for a thrilling tapping duet in front of vintage film footage. In contrast, Pineapple Thief mastermind Bruce Soord’s ensuing “The Final Thing on My Mind” was as heartfelt as you’d expect, and his method for looping certain guitar patterns as accompaniment was effective and clever. Likewise, guitarist/vocalist Randy McStine and keyboardist Adam Holzman impressed with their visually noirish cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood.” It’s yet another testament to why McStine deserves to rise through the ranks of the genre as much as he has.

Although he’s most beloved as a drummer, Nick D’Virgilio proved quite adept as a singer/songwriter with “Where’s the Passion?” (from his upcoming solo concept album, Invisible). Afterward, the expansive The Reign of Kindo was as stunning as ever on “Till We Make Our Ascent”—hopefully gaining a ton of new followers in the process—prior to Oliver Wakeman doing an immaculate version of Yes’ “Words on a Page.” Closing off hour two was Ray Wilson’s acoustic guitar genuineness via “Not About Us” (which he originally sang on Genesis’ swan song, Calling All Stations).

Enchant kicked off the final third of “Prog from Home” with the creatively filmed “Acquaintance,” which was succeed by Michael Sadler and Rachel Flowers (not shown) collaborating for Saga’s tender “Believe.” Subsequently, Pendragon’s Nick Barrett set an atmospheric and soothing vibe with “Water,” Casey McPherson dedicated his poignant piano-only interpretation of Flying Colors’ “The Storm” to the bravery of viewers, and Ryo Okumoto was joined by Dave Meros and Mike Thorne for “Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Ryo Okumoto (Medley),” a fast-paced and eccentric instrumental mash-up of Spock’s Beard staples like “Skeletons at the Feast” and “Go the Way You Go.”

The last quartet of recitals began with Steve Hackett’s quick and wordless rendering of Genesis’ “Blood on the Rooftops. From there,  Neal Morse, Will Morse, Julie Harrison, and Philip Martin’s offered a living room fragment of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” before Morse's spiritual stab at Spock’s Beard’s “Wind at My Back”; Jordan Rudess’ presented a charming recapture of Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Kindred Spirits”; and Mike Portnoy (with accompaniment from his daughter, Melody, as well as Roger Manning and Jason Falkner) played multiple instruments while singing Jellyfish’s “I Want to Stay at Home.” Obviously, it was an apt way to end, and it was certainly the most elaborate and lovably zany clip of the afternoon.

In-between those excerpts, Avin and/or other members of The Prog Report would periodically chime in with more gratitude and occasional updates on which artists would be coming up next. What’s more, certain other prog rock musicians—Tom Brislin, Bill Hubauer, Carl Palmer, and Greg Spawton—would also say a few kind words and/or introduce the next act. In particular, Glass Hammer’s Steve Babb took a few minutes to share inspirational quotes and personal thoughts that related not only to the meaning behind their latest album, Dreaming City, but also to everyone watching and waiting for the troubling times to end. Like Mitchell’s aforementioned message, it was a moving, sobering, and uplifting reminder of how we can all support each other through this worldwide struggle.

Similarly, and beyond itself, “Prog from Home” signified how viable, worthwhile, and necessary live online concerts can be. True, most of the renditions weren’t equal to their studio counterparts or what’d you actually see and hear in a music venue, but that was never the point of it. Instead, everyone involved aimed—and succeeded—at crafting more intimate and humanizing performances that bonded artist and aficionado and raised awareness and backing for important causes. In all of those ways, Avin and company set a new standard for how post-pandemic concerts should be done.   

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