Pierre Perrone: Prog - a genre that still has a firm grip on the British psyche

Click to follow
The Independent Online

As someone whose mind was blown by the theatre of Peter Gabriel's Genesis and Pink Floyd performing with the Ballet de Marseille choreographed by Roland Petit in the early 70s, I always enjoyed the ambition within prog. Forty years on, that spirit is still at large in the musical land.

Radiohead's fondness for playing Roman amphitheatres along the Mediterranean can be traced back to their love of the Adrian Maben documentary, Pink Floyd At Pompeii, a staple on their tour bus when I joined them in Barcelona a decade ago.

However, the best examples of prog's continued hold on the British psyche came during the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics. Mike Oldfield's medley of "Tubular Bells" and "In Dulci Jubilo" beautifully matched the ambition of Danny Boyle's vision during the NHS segment.

Prog was even more prominent last Sunday, with Genesis fan Guy Garvey fronting the heartwarming Elbow, and Muse recalling the excesses of Rush and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. As Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford backed Ed Sheeran on "Wish You Were Here" while acrobats recreated the Floyd album's iconic cover, prog was back where it belongs: at the heart of the wacky and whimsical Britain it has always held a mirror up to.