April Newsletter

Welcome to our April newsletter!

Feeling pretty cold again today but surely that Spring warmth is just around the corner 😁

Weather aside, it's been wonderful to get back on the road again. We're already five shows in and they've all been a total joy for us, but more on those later.First to the next show. On Saturday June 1st we play the iconic 100 Club in Oxford St, London with the incredible Ebony Buckle,Nick Burns and Laura Williams opening the evening.

This is a BIG one for us and we really hope to make it a gig to remember. If you're able to join us please grab a ticket here
If you can't make it, or even if you can and use social media, we'd be really grateful if you'd consider sharing this post with your friends. It will absolutely make a difference. Thanks so much!

The biggest show for us last year was, of course, playing to 20,000 souls at Cropredy. We recorded audio and filmed the show both of which are now mixed and edited. We're planning to release this later in the year in a couple of formats along with a superb Shaun Blake documentary currently in edit. 

So we're starting with a limited edition, double live album on coloured vinyl in a gatefold sleeve. We did a little market research to test reaction to the following model and the response was very positive, so here we go… 

The album will be released via Wild Thyme Records run by our very own Guardian, Richard Swan, and manufactured through Fairsound. You can guarantee  Richard will be ensuring they provide the highest quality product.

The model is this... the album will be available to pre-order via a soon to be launched campaign. Once the required threshold has been reached the order will go ahead with the pressing plant and will likely take 2 to 3 months to arrive at your door. In the unlikely event that we don't get sufficient orders the press will be cancelled and Fairsound will immediately refund payments directly and in full.

Please look out for the order campaign if you fancy a copy.

Solstice Live Cropredy Artwork

The Boerderij

Our first show of the year was a trip back to The Netherlands and the Poppodium Boerderij with Nick and Ebony again opening the evening. As with the Progdreams Festival last year, we were so well looked after by the Boerderij crew and our friend Henry, the hotel concierge, who set us up with quilts and cushions for another alfresco after-show session.  

Photos: Ron Kraaijkamp, Marco de Niet


Manchester Academy1

Then it was Hawkwind at Manchester Academy... what a gig that was for us! First time we've played the same stage on the same day since Stonehenge 84! We've played the same festival a couple of time though and it was after seeing us in Veruno that they messaged me about working together. Manchester was a big crowd, I'd guess close to 3000 and most hadn't seen us before or even knew who we were. Cropredy aside, we've never had so much engagement from new listeners after a gig. If Hawkwind tour again (quite a big 'if') I'm really hoping we can do a run of shows with them

Photos: Robert Stuthridge

Manchester Academy1

Winter's End Festival

It's really important to me that the whole band have a great experience at every show (lord knows they don't get paid properly so it's the least I can do) and Winter's End was no exception. Another absolutely brilliant festival put together by Stephen Lambe, Huw Lloyd-Jones and the team. Amazing line up and a wonderful audience. 

One of the many things I love about WE is their willingness to fund at least one band to travel over from Europe. This is how I got to see MEER for the first time... unforgettable! 

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of Silent Dance we thought we'd play a few songs from the album. Turns out, even though Ebony wasn't even an idea at the time, Earthsong may as well have been written for her. Here's a 'Guinea Prog' video from the gig.

MK11 Music Venue

And that brings us to the last weekend and MK11 Music Venue, where a wonderful crowd turned up to help us and the brilliant OCULAR, raise some cash for Willen Hospice.

It's amazing the difference it makes once we've played a few shows together. The band starts locking in and the new tunes, and those we haven't played for years, start feeling good. Next year we're looking at a proper tour and that's when a band can really get in the groove. 


Two striking things about these shows... they proved our audience is growing and man I can't tell you how much that means to us and.... I kid you not, at The 1865 people were dancing!!! 😁 That made Jess so happy! I'll let our friend and Guardian, Simon Arnold, tell the story...

The 1865

"Solstice, another prog band from way back when, creaks its way into Southampton. Surely the residents of SO14 can expect a peaceful, dignified night of long guitar and keyboard solos and statesmen-like performances on the stage. Maybe the 1865 will have implemented a nice open fireplace for us to sit round and sip hot chocolates while we listen. Maybe they will even have some armchairs and let us wear our slippers, a grand evening is surely in store.

Arriving at the venue the signs aren't good, no fireplace, no armchairs and not a whiff of hot chocolate greets us. There are chairs and tables though, that's something. But wait, there aren't any near the stage, good Lord, people are standing up! And out of the corner of my eye I'm sure I see a couple of young ladies. Oh my goodness. they are in the band! I quickly gather up my pipe and slippers and head for the exit, this has clearly been a terrible mistake. But no, spotting me, the tough, uncompromising doorman Geoff Tucker looms over me and blocks my path, "You are on the list, you have to stay" he growls while flexing his biceps to indicate what other options might be available to me. There is no escape! From the stage there is some fearful female caterwauling, what's that? "Shout it out!"? What fresh hell is this?

Of course you will have to have been living under a rather large rock somewhere to have missed the evolution of Solstice in recent years. In fairness their shows have always been lively, anyone who saw Andy with Marc Elton in his prime will remember there was always energy, joy and a definite spiritual element to the band's shows and music. Andy has not just kept the flame alive but he's stoked it up, building a band around him that literally fizzes with energy. Jess Holland is surely key to this and the new music that has resulted has just driven Solstice to another level. Albums like "Sia" and "Light Up" contain songs that immediately made their way into my favourite tracks by the band. I have enormous respect for all of the bands that are still going from the 70s and 80s but how many of them are producing music that matches or exceeds what they did back then? How many of them are putting in performances on stage with greater energy and style than their "Hayday" while maintaining the elements that made them special in the first place? I can't think of many . . . As a very wise man once said "Solstice becoming the band they were always meant to be".

The band don't believe in hanging around and kick off with the absolute stomper that is "Shout!" which warms the venue much better than a mere log fire could have done. They continue with newer music with Wongle and the utter classic that is Mt Ephraim, with Jess demonstrating quite ably the infusion of energy and melody she has brought to the band. But then a change of pace, Jess hands the stage and microphone to Ebony Buckle! Honestly, is there anybody who won't go on strike in Britain these days?

Then the band launch into "Earthsong", man it was magical. The song definitely fits Ebony's voice beautifully. The voice and the band just took me back to the old Marquee Club, I was back in the eighties, I was decades younger, several stone lighter and I'm sure for those few minutes I even had a full head of hair again! It was one of those concert moments, those special moments. Of course the song is only a few minutes long and the years, full strength gravity and exhausted hair follicles returned only too soon, but for those few minutes I drank from the fountain of youth . . .

There were some new tracks and plenty of other special moments including "Bulbul Tarang" which to me is one of those songs that sums up this newer Solstice, it has all the elements I mentioned; spiritually, musically and vocally it has a crescendo that is genuinely Solstice at their best ever. By the end of the set the audience were actually dancing! Now, obviously with a citation against the band open with the Prog Behavioural Standards Committee I can't comment on anything that would prejudice an ongoing investigation unfortunately. Just suffice it to say that the band got the reception that their energy and excellence fully deserved. And if the energy levels were high throughout then they rocketed at the end as the stage was ceded to the girls. Jess, Ebony and Dyane basically turned it into a riot of joyous kinetic energy, dancing and singing to their heart's content. Jenny clearly didn't want to be left out either! It was definitely a case of Girls Allowed and quite wonderful it was too.

We shouldn't forget the man that holds it all together at the back, Pete on the drums, and Robin "the calm behind the storm" Phillips or indeed the keyboard maestro himself Steven McDaniel who gave one of the most joyous sequences of bowing and celebration when he was name-checked from the stage. And that just sums up the band that Andy has put together, they love what they are doing, they are exceedingly good at doing it, and boy does it show!

As ever some photos which make an attempt to show some of the energy and joy that goes into a Solstice show, they don't do it justice, the band have to be seen to be understood. Many more on Flickr . . .

Another fine evening from Solent Area Dance 🙂

And one thing I often forget to mention is the venue itself, we are hugely fortunate to have such a place as the 1865. The sound, the lights are always superb, the staff friendly and helpful and their support of the music something I will always be grateful for."

Simon Arnold

Jess Holland 1865 March 2024

Well I think that's quite enough for now and thank you if you made it this far 😁

Eternal thanks to our Guardians for keeping the show on the road and to you all for your continued support.

Hope to see you at a gig soon. Full details here:

Love and thanks from us all!

Solstice 2024 Live

Solstice Gig List 2024