Landmarq - The Spiral Staircase


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7. Changes

THE end of 2002 brought a major change for Landmarq when co-founder keyboardist Steve Leigh made the decision to 'retire' from the band and move to Spain. In a slight twist of coincidence, Steve was replaced by Gonzalo Carrera – actually from north-west Spain! Gonzalo had previously worked with Spanish Prog-rock band Galadriel, ‘Yes’ tribute band Fragile, Huw Lloyd-Langton (ex-Hawkwind), Clive Bunker and Glen Cornick (both ex-Jethro Tull). At the same time, Dave Wagstaffe was invited to play on Oliver Wakeman’s ‘3 Ages of Magic’ CD with Yes guitarist Steve Howe.

January 2003, saw Landmarq embark on a UK tour, with further dates in Holland. Among these dates, the band double-headlined with legendary Dutch band Focus at TheUnderworld venue in London. Landmarq were fortunate to have a very special guest appear with them. Cellist Hugh McDowell (ELO and Wizzard). The band were also joined by French saxophonist Laurent Hunziker (who counts Supertramp among his many credits) for two UK dates including the previously-mentioned Underworld show.

2004 saw solely UK dates including more with Focus while the band also finished writing their new studio album. Steve Gee played on the new album of the re-formed pre-‘Yes’ band ‘The Syn’ originally featuring Yes-men Pete Banks and Chris Squire. Squire was unable to make the recording, so Steve stepped in and did the sessions. Chris Squire has since agreed to tour with thenew line up of Syn which, at the time of writing, also featured Francis Dunnery (guitar) and GaryHusband (drums).

In January 2005 Tracy, Steve and Dave offered their services toward the ‘Prog Aid’ charitysingle, ‘All Around The World’, with proceeds going to victims of the Asian Tsunami of 2004. Gonzalo and Dave were invited to work with ‘The Nice’, featuring original guitarist Davy O’List, and Landmarq started recording their new and fifth studio album, for the ‘Mystic’ record label.

Unfortunately, Gonzalo’s other musical commitments at this time were proving too difficult for him to continue with Landmarq so sadly the band were obliged to find a replacement. They were fortunate enough to find that an old friend from the past - Mike Varty - was free and was pleased to join the band and lend his talents, his first job being the new album. Mike first came to the notice of Prog-Rock audiences as the ‘live’ keyboard player with the band Shadowland. But his connection with Landmarq first began a few years previously with a project called Syren, which had exactly the same line-up of musicians that is now Landmarq! A number of songs were completed at this time, the most notable of which, 'Entertaining Angels', has been played live by the band for a number of years and which has been re-recorded for the new album. Just before the ‘Syren’ project, Mike was the keyboard player and writing talent behind the Janison Edge album ‘The Services of Mary Goode’ along with vocalist Sue Element, on which album Dave Wagstaffe also played drums. The music from this album was the soundtrack for the film ‘Foiled’ in which Mike also acted.

During 2005 the band played some UK dates with Mike which included the band making their first trip to Poland to play a concert in the city of Katowice. This was filmed at the S. Wyspianski Silesian theatre in front of a capacity audience, the result being released on DVD in early 2006. Entitled 'Turbulence - Live In Poland', this features the full concert plus a wealth of bonus material including audio and video archive tracks, an interview with the band, a huge photo gallery and more.

A serious setback was to hit Landmarq in 2007 when singer Tracy Hitchings revealed she had been diagnosed with two forms of Cancer. This was a major blow for everyone – not least for Tracy herself – and the ongoing recording of the bands next album was put on hold.
Thankfully, following a strict regime of holistic and dietary treatments, plus sheer determination, Tracy was able to deal with her condition and following further tests was given the ‘all clear’. In the meantime, feeling better in mind, body and voice, she returned to the studio to lay down the final vocal tracks for the new Landmarq album.

2008/9 saw some of the members of Landmarq being involved with other projects including drummer Dave Wagstaffe joining Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash for some extensive touring in the UK and Europe. Keyboardist Mike Varty was also touring with ex-Marillion drummer Mick Pointer for his 'Script For A Jesters Tour' anniversary gigs.

In January 2012, Landmarq finally released their long-awaited fifth studio album, 'Entertaining Angels'. The new album was first issued as a Special Edition which included a bonus disc containing extra tracks. 'Entertaining Angels - Special Edition' is a limited release with the main album (minus the bonus disc) having been released in November 2012.

A major change for Landmarq then occurred in the middle of 2012 with the announcement that, due to a conflict of interests and live dates, original drummer Dave Wagstaffe would be leaving the band to join fully with Martin Turners Wishbone Ash. Although the band understood and respected Dave's decision, this was obviously a setback for Landmarq and they realized they needed to act quickly to replace Dave and continue with promoting the new album.

Following a series of auditions in London, the band finally recruited drummer Daniel Martin, a graduate of Drum Tech and a drumming prodigy. Though quite a bit younger than the rest of the band, Daniel was brought up listening to various Rock and Prog-rock bands and artists and has already proved himself a worthy replacement having learned the complete new album and fitted in very well as Landmarq embarked on a series of UK dates in November 2012. The very positive comments the band received both at their gigs and subsequently on Facebook, Twittter, e-mail, etc, bear testament to the fact that Landmarq have made a welcome return to the stage.

Landmarq with new drummer Daniel Martin (left)

Following on from their gigs in 2012, Landmarq continued their live shows -- dubbed "Angels On Tour" -- with more UK and European dates through 2013, including the Cambridge and Summer's End rock festivals in the UK and the Rock Itervoort Festival in The Netherlands. (Live dates info)

Landmarq will be releasing new product throughout 2014/15, including "Entertaining Angels" on vinyl (a double-LP set). Also the long-awaited compilation album will be issued, entitled "Origins - A Landmarq Anthology - 1991-2014" (2-CD set). At the time of writing Currently in production is a new DVD/CD filmed at one of the band's European shows in 2013 at the Boerderij, NL.
Further details for the above releases will follow.

Landmarq - London, 2014

To be continued...

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