The Cryptic Clues live at The Peel

The founder members of legendary 80s prog band Twelfth Night performed together, for the first time in several years, under the pseudonym ‘Jan 14 and the Cryptic Clues’ at The Peel in Kingston-on-Thames in January.

The sell-out show, which was also filmed and recorded for future release, was arranged to coincide with the release a week earlier on Jan 6th (Twelfth Night!) of the Definitive Edition of ‘Live at The Target’ on F2 Records.

Brian Devoil (drums), Clive Mitten (bass, guitar, keyboards) and Andy Revell (lead guitar) were joined by Mark Spencer (vocals, guitars, keyboards) and Galahad’s Dean Baker (keyboards) to recreate their instrumental debut album “Live at the Target” from 1981.

The show was completed with over an hour of the band’s classic songs from 1982-83 including the whole of their legendary “Fact and Fiction” and “Live and Let Live” albums.

During the interval, over £1,000 was raised for the charity ‘Unique’ from an auction of Twelfth Night memorabilia. Signed copies of the band’s biography and vintage tour t-shirts were snapped up by eager fans. The keynote lots included a copy of the original “Live at the Target” vinyl album signed by all members of the band, including the late Geoff Mann; a 1981 “Live at the Target” t-shirt donated by Mann’s widow Jane and, raising well over £250, Geoff’s iconic CND vest worn at gigs throughout 1983.

The band also conducted a humorous “curry-themed” raffle during the evening, which raised over £200, with the top prize being a night out for the winner with the band.

Clive Mitten says “It was a real pleasure for the three of us to be on stage together again, and we were astonished at the generosity of our fans … every penny raised will go to help families affected by rare chromosome disorders.”

Andy Revell adds “I had a brilliant time being back with the band again at the Peel. I have to admit I was both rusty and apprehensive but the fans were just fantastic. Their support really helped me relax and have some fun and they were very forgiving of the occasional ‘blips’!”

Here’s a quote from Mark Spencer: “I was very touched by how welcoming (and forgiving) the audience were of me taking the mic for the night. I think I got away with it! Special thanks must go to the members of ‘Team Awesome’ – you know who you are – who donated my traditional stage fare of chocolate buttons at the start of the gig. We all had a lot of fun onstage, and I’m looking forward to the curry with the raffle winner!”

And another from Dean Baker: “It was fantastic to finally have the opportunity to perform the full version of Sequences with the original TN trio of Brian, Clive & Rev. And it was quite an emotional moment too when Mark came on stage in the original WWI uniform that Geoff used to wear”.

The bottom line is that we were so pleased that we will definitely be doing it again.

For those interested here’s a list of the auction items and the successful bidders.

  • Geoff Mann’s ‘Live at the Target’ T-shirt – bought by Cliff Pearson for £100.
  • Geoff’s home-made CND T-shirt as pictured on the Reading Rock 83 DVD cover – bought after some frantic bidding by Barry Ruggles for a staggering £275. Thank you, Barry.
  • A unique shiny MMX T-shirt donated by Andrew Wild. Snapped up by Martin Furlong for £35.
  • A special Jan 14 T-shirt made specially for the winning bidder (thanks to David Read) which was won by Sam Smyth for £45.
  • An original unworn T-shirt from the XII era – White, size Small. Bought by Mark Ferguson for £10 – and then when he realised just how small it was, kindly given back to us to sell again another day. Thanks, Mark!
  • An original copy of Live at the Target on vinyl signed by all 4 original members plus Geoff Mann. This was donated by Jane and was bought by Peter Bryant for £50.
  • 3 copies of Play On signed by Andy Sears, Rev, Clive, Mark, Dean, Brian, Jane Mann, Andy Wild. Sold for a total of £75 to Cliff Pearson and 2 other fans whose names we forgot to write down – so thank you whoever you are!
  • And finally BIG ‘thank yous’ to Helen Johnson, Mark Kay and Martin Furlong for their generous donations which pushed the total raised over the £1,000 mark.

Review: Twelfth Night – The Peel, London 14/01/12

Originally billed as Live at the Target : Live at the Peel, Jan 14 & the Cryptic Clues (AKA the legendary Twelfth Night), converged on Kingston-Upon-Thames’ The Peel for what could only be called, a celebration and reunion of the music, musicians, and the followers of the particular brand of prog, only Twelfth Night can deliver.

For a Saturday night so close to the end of the Christmas party season, the Peel was surprisingly packed. In fact, it reminded me of the last time the band and I had met in anger, way back in 1984 within the sweaty walls of London’s Marquee in Wardour Street, not long after original front man, the late Geoff Mann, had left the band and replacement Andy Sears was finding his feet.

Memories of the Marquee came flooding back, especially once the first notes of Target opener Fur Helene I seared through the room. I’m sure playing both sides of an instrumental LP might be heavy going for the most earnest of progsters, but, the band promised some surprises during the evening, and surprises there were.

The version of Sequences was in fact, not the Target instrumental, but the later Mann/vocal version. The band was joined for this by utility sideman, Mark Spencer, formally the front man for LaHost, and in recent years, multi-instrumentalist for the various line-ups of the reunited Twelfth Night. Striding onto the stage in Geoff’s Army Uniform prop, there was a palpable gasp from the audience, who were won over immediately by Spencer’s performance. This was my first encounter with the fella, and I was mightily impressed and felt that should the band decide to record more music, then this line up would certainly be a goer.

Looking around the room, it was delightful to see an audience so enthralled and responsive to the talent on stage. Drummer Brian Devoil held it all together, with a headmasters countenance, while Clive Mitten’s multi-instrumentalists chops were to be admired, but the undoubted star for many was Andy ‘Rev’ Revell’s soaring guitar lines. For many, Rev’s playing has always been the focal point of their performances, and he didn’t disappoint despite it being his first gig for over 3 years.

The second set consisted of Mann era material. Everything from Fact And Fiction was there, as well as the seminal The Ceiling Speaks with a hilarious false start, with a less than serious version of East Of Eden finishing off the evening, complete with wacky stylophone orchestra section provided by some band and audience members. Yeah, there were a few bum notes, and missed cues, but quite frankly no one seemed at all phased by it, in fact, many seemed to enjoy the little bumps in the performance.

The bottom line is, this is a hugely talented group, not constrained by chasing record deals, fair weather fans, fads nor fashions. This was a fantastic and fun performance, to the faithful. Looking around the crowd, some of whom had travelled a fair distance, there was genuine affection for the band, from all corners of the venue, and they in turn seemed visibly moved by it all. It was certainly the best atmosphere at a gig that I have been to for ages. A Night to Remember!

Robin J I Smith

Posted Feb 2nd 2012