Twelfth Night were formed by students from Reading University, England in 1978, and were mainstays of the UK progressive revival of the early 1980s, alongside bands like Marillion, Pallas, Pendragon & IQ. Although Twelfth Night went through a series of styles and line-ups, they notched up well over 300 gigs and a number of critically-acclaimed album releases.
The band's first LP, the wholly instrumental 'Live at the Target', was issued in February 1981. Promotional dates included the band's first gigs at the world famous Marquee Club, London. At the time their sound was defined by the fluid lead guitar lines of Andy Revell, Brian Devoil’s imaginative drumming, Clive Mitten’s prominent and searching bass lines, and striking yet sympathetic keyboards from classically-trained Rick Battersby.
Geoff Mann joined as vocalist in time for the Reading Rock Festival in August 1981, helping Twelfth Night make history as the first local band to appear at the event. Geoff’s artistic skills (he was also a painter, poet and playwright) and his development as a vocalist and front man, helped take the band in new directions.
The first music from this line-up was issued under the title 'Smiling At Grief'.
The band spent most of 1982 writing and recording their classic 'Fact and Fiction' album, and following its release established them as a truly exceptional live band, playing numerous sell out gigs at the Marquee, and throughout the UK.
In August 1983, the band once again performed at the Reading Festival* however Geoff left in November 1983, after two unforgettable gigs, which were recorded and subsequently released as 'Live and Let Live'. (* recently issued on DVD).
In January 1984, the band began an extensive period of touring with new singer Andy Sears. Highlights included a slot at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, and a live TV broadcast from the band's second home, the Marquee Club. At the end of the tour the band signed a management and publishing deal with Hit and Run Music, joining Genesis and Peter Gabriel amongst others at the company.
In August that year the band recorded the 'Art and Illusion' album with noted producer Gil Norton. The subsequent tour saw the band playing much larger venues than before, including the Dominion Theatre in London.
Andy’s vocal style helped give Twelfth Night a more commercial sound and finally, in December 1985, the band signed a ‘major label’ deal with Virgin Records, with the eponymous album 'Twelfth Night' following in 1986, preceded by a couple of uneventful singles! However a lack of commercial success saw Andy Sears leave the band in late 1986, and eventually the band split in late 1987.
Twenty years on the band reunited for a series of very well-received gigs. All their original albums had been released on CD in the intervening period, along with a number of previously unheard, and now highly-acclaimed, Archive Releases, and this continued interest in the band culminated in December 2009 with the publication of an extensive biography of the band, called 'Play On!' Earlier that year the band embarked on a new series of Definitive Edition Releases of their original albums with UK-based F2 Music Ltd. The first two of which are available on CD-Baby: 'Smiling at Grief' and 'Art & Illusion', both as CD and downloads.
More dates followed in 2010, including a triumphant headlining performance at Europe’s premier progressive rock festival ‘The Night of the Prog’ in Germany. A live recording of a UK show was issued as 'MMX: Twelfth Night Live' in December 2010 (on double DVD and double CD), the band’s first new recordings since 1986. Reviewers have proclaimed that the band is currently sounding better than ever, and European sales have confirmed this too. The future looks bright..!
'MMX' is now also available here on CD-Baby.
2012’s gigs included a unique re-creation of 1981’s 'Live at the Target' album, and the band’s first ever trip to America to play the prestigious NEARfest Arts festival. Their 1981 album 'Live At The Target' was released as the 3rd in the Definitive Edition series in January 2012, followed by the 4th one 'Live And Let Live' in September. This album (recorded at Geoff Mann's farewell shows in Nov 1983), was promoted by the band, playing under the pseudonym of "The Cryptic Clues" during 4 concerts in the autumn. The first of these was a headliner at the UK's biggest PROG festival 'Summer's End', and the last a triumphant performance at the world-famous Barbican Arts Centre in London. This show was also web-cast live - and was watched nearly 3,000 times in the first 4 weeks.
In Summer 2013 the band's very first recordings, from 1979!, 'The Skan Demos / First Tape Album' were released on CDR, and the brand new updated web-site at www.twelfthnight.info - was launched. Further CD, CDR and DVD releases are planned for 2013 & 2014 - as well as more titles being made available on CD-Baby!
There are also rumours of a gig in May 2014 in London... watch this space!
Updated October 2013
For up-to-date news visit www.twelfthnight.info