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Thread: Who are the biggest touring acts in prog today?

  1. #1

    Who are the biggest touring acts in prog today?

    Hi all,

    Longtime lurker and new member with a query for you...who would you say are the top 10 or so biggest touring acts in prog these days, say in the past 5 years or so? I know there is always a lot of debate as to what constitutes prog so feel free to label something 'prog related' if you prefer to distinguish it that way (feel free to include a band like Kansas as discussed in another recent thread) or even do 2 separate lists if you are more of a purist I suppose but for this topic, I think it best to use a fairly broad definition for prog.

    I'd imagine King Crimson, Yes (especially were they combined), Dream Theater, possibly Steven Wilson and Opeth would go on this list along with David Gilmour if he actually toured with more regularity but I am curious to hear what you all might say. Certainly Rush before they stopped touring would top that list along with Roger Waters when he tours. Can any other band do arenas in the prog-ish world these days (the ones which come to mind are Steely Dan or Peter Gabriel to the extent one considers him prog related at this point or Deep Purple or even Muse)?

    I'm also curious about regional variations as well though I imagine they are less relevant for the upper echelon acts usually.

    I enjoy lots of obscure acts in and out of prog but was curious about this topic and seeing how many prog related bands can tour broadly in larger halls, theaters and even arenas.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by tribalfusion; 11-11-2017 at 02:43 PM.

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  3. #3
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Marillion must be one of the busiest touring bands. So often touring, playing festivals, they just did a European tour, then played the RAH, then shows in Japan, then back to England for the London Palladium and Manchester, then they've got a US tour early next year.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Marillion must be one of the busiest touring bands. So often touring, playing festivals, they just did a European tour, then played the RAH, then shows in Japan, then back to England for the London Palladium and Manchester, then they've got a US tour early next year.
    Thanks I caught them last time around and they definitely had a pretty solid audience, especially considering their public profile. I wonder how they would rank overall but they seem like good candidates for such a list.

    Are any of the continental European bands etc able to do decent sized shows anywhere?

  5. #5
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Until they stopped touring, I'd say Rush was in a tie with Roger Waters for drawing the biggest crowds.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    Until they stopped touring, I'd say Rush was in a tie with Roger Waters for drawing the biggest crowds.
    I think he might have done more tickets per city but generally didn't tour nearly as much as they did. I agree that they must be at the top of the list though.

  7. #7
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Saga seems to tour a heck of a lot, but that will be coming to a close in a few months. sniff...

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    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Blue Vino.

  9. #9
    First, they don't really tour anymore.

    Second, "What is prog?" (Never answer. Please.).

    Third, Swans. They draw insistent "prog" fans of all classes, they're as indebted as they are old and new.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Saga seems to tour a heck of a lot, but that will be coming to a close in a few months. sniff...
    Another one I thought of but didn't list. I don't think they play large venues uniformly but maybe they would make the list for Germany in particular? Definitely not in the US unfortunately...

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    First, they don't really tour anymore.

    Second, "What is prog?" (Never answer. Please.).

    Third, Swans. They draw insistent "prog" fans of all classes, they're as indebted as they are old and new.


    I expected someone to ask 'what is prog' (and you were a good candidate for it) so I deliberately left it pretty wide open for this particular query. Swans I wouldn't have thought of but maybe they would make the list so thanks for that.

    I didn't understand your 'they don't really tour anymore' answer though.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by tribalfusion View Post
    Swans I wouldn't have thought of but maybe they would make the list so thanks for that. [...] I didn't understand your 'they don't really tour anymore' answer though.
    Meaning that rock bands in general don't really get to take their music on the road anymore. And, as regards Swans, they are one of extremely few genuinely radical and constantly experimental bands to actually line up for grand tours of the globe in accordance with their latest studio releases. Which are, if anything, utterly contemporary in a "culturally-determined" fashion. And their audiences are at awe.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Meaning that rock bands in general don't really get to take their music on the road anymore. And, as regards Swans, they are one of extremely few genuinely radical and constantly experimental bands to actually line up for grand tours of the globe in accordance with their latest studio releases. Which are, if anything, utterly contemporary in a "culturally-determined" fashion. And their audiences are at awe.
    Right, I thanked you for suggesting Swans; that's a fair candidate for inclusion regardless of personal preferences (grand tour though might be a bit of an exaggeration in their case).

    Rock bands actually do a lot of touring still today. In fact there are more rock concerts in all the cities in which I have lived (in several countries) than any other type of music, even to this day in spite of the obvious concessions to modern times.
    Last edited by tribalfusion; 11-11-2017 at 05:05 PM.

  14. #14
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    It depends whether or not you count County Fairs. If so, Kansas.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by tribalfusion View Post
    Right, I thanked you for suggesting Swans; that's a fair candidate for inclusion regardless of personal preferences (grand tour though might be a bit of an exaggeration in their case).
    Not really, because they tour festival audiences of hundreds of thousand of folks every year.

    But of course, most (not all) people into Steven Wilson wouldn't know them much.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    Magma come to mind. They're still playing a plenty and everywhere. I'm about to catch their first gig ever in Brazil in two weeks.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Not really, because they tour festival audiences of hundreds of thousand of folks every year.

    But of course, most (not all) people into Steven Wilson wouldn't know them much.
    I know them and checked their touring history to be sure. They are not playing to huge audiences but rather more like 1000 a show in many cases which is still pretty good considering everything.

    A grand tour would involve at least a few thousand per show I would think.

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    Though not an arena-filler, I'd say Steve Hackett is one of the biggest touring acts right now.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Conti View Post
    Magma come to mind. They're still playing a plenty and everywhere. I'm about to catch their first gig ever in Brazil in two weeks.
    Magma don't play THAT often actually and not to big crowds usually. What's the venue size there? Last time I saw them it was with about 400 people.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by progfan915 View Post
    Though not an arena-filler, I'd say Steve Hackett is one of the biggest touring acts right now.
    I think that's fair to say. He is one of the more active people out there usually in a range of decent sized theaters. Definitely less than Dream Theater, Opeth, Yes, King Crimson etc but in the next group after that probably.

  21. #21
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Also in that second group with Hackett I'd put Renaissance. I've seen both Hackett and Renaissance about 5 times each in the last 4 or 5 years, in similar venues, some the same venues. Just saw renaissance last weekend and seeing Hackett in February I think?

  22. #22
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    If you think Kansas is prog (RHETORICAL QUESTION!!!), there is no other prog band who does the state & county fair circuit every summer more than Kansas, in addition to their theater/festival gigs.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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    Not everyone considers Muse prog, but I would say they are at least prog oriented, and they can fill big arenas (and stadiums) around the world.

    I would also argue that at least some of what Umphrey’s Mcgee does is prog and they are constantly touring and selling out large venues.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by progeezer View Post
    It depends whether or not you count County Fairs. If so, Kansas.
    Ever since Ronnie Platt joined and they expanded their lineup, Kansas is playing a lot less of the corn dog venues these days and a lot more theaters, casinos and more traditional venues. They are also back to carrying around their own production which they did not do for many years. They still play the occasional fair and festival, but are doing a lot less than they used to.

  25. #25
    Steven Wilson

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