Title - 'Live In Concert - Tour 2011'
Artist - Renaissance
For those not in the know, Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit 'Northern Lights' and progressive rock classics like 'Carpet of the Sun', 'Mother Russia', and 'Ashes Are Burning'.
They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences.
Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam's wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesiser, and versatile drum work.
The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 1970s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.
The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane Relf.
They intended to put "something together with more of a classical influence" and so Renaissance was born; and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.
Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the "classic line-up" of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established; although none of them were in the original band.
They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger.
From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.
The 1980s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987.
Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-1990s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.
2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance. Led by Haslam and Dunford, following that aforementioned hiatus of some years, the reformed Renaissance undertook live work, performing much praised concerts in the USA and Japan in 2010 and 2011.
On September 27th, 2019 Esoteric Recordings (via Cherry Red Records UK) will release a 2CD + DVD digipak edition of the live set from the mighty Renaissance.
This fine live document was recorded at The Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA, USA on 23rd September 2011 and features a line-up of Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford joined by Rave Tesar (keyboards), David J. Keyes (bass, vocals), Jason Hart (keyboards, vocals) and Frank Pagano (drums).
The band’s live set saw Renaissance perform two of their classic albums live in their entirety, namely TURN OF THE CARDS and SCHEHERAZADE & OTHER STORIES.
Sadly, this live document would be the band’s final release to feature Michael Dunford, who tragically passed away in November 2012. Ergo, Live In Concert - Tour 2011 serves as fine tribute to Michael’s memory and to the wonderful music of Renaissance.
Turn Of The Cards (1974)
1. 'Running Hard'
2. 'I Think of You'
3. 'Things I Don't Understand'
4. 'Black Flame'
5. 'Cold Is Being'
6. 'Mother Russia'
1974's Turn Of The Cards was the fifth Renaissance album, and once again, it's a masterpiece of classical/prog rock. Once more, the band's music is magically lush, sweeping and magnificent, with Annie Haslam's goddess-like voice leading the way.
All six songs are outstanding, played and sung to perfection by Haslam and performed to extreme precision by guitarist Michael Dunford, et al.
I mean, if you don't know now, I'll say it again: Renaissance were / are a phenomenal band who deserved a much bigger worldwide audience then what they had.
Their music is just that entertainingly good and this Turn Of The Cards is yet another simply brilliant album from Renaissance.
Listening to it live here on their 2011 reformation tour, lovingly nothing has changed down the years. Interwoven strains of classically influenced music, tempered by harmonies and balance arranged by a carefully orchestrated rock ensemble - which included traditional piano and contemporary synthesizer among others - are still their core.
With all of this classical influence punctuated by lyrics that represent the very essence of the self-discovery of the times all done with a trace of nostalgic longing, cuts such as 'Running Hard,' 'Things I Don't Understand' and the excellent 'Mother Russia' all still reverberate within today's world.
Scheherazade & Other Stories (1975)
1. 'Trip to the Fair'
2. 'Vultures Fly High'
3. 'Ocean Gypsy'
4. 'Song of Scheherazade'
5. 'The Mystic and the Muse'
1975's Scheherazade And Other Stories continued their winning streak where they seemingly, and effortlessly tossed off one magnificent album after another during their '70s heyday.
Ergo, Scheherazade is a beautifully crafted album, expertly sung and played, filled with lush, orchestral progressive pop-rock that's guaranteed to sweep you away.
Listening to it live here on this 2011 re-envisioning and Haslam's vocals are just as exquisite, as lushly ornate as they ever were back then.
For example, they begin with 'Trip To The Fair,' which is a rather heavenly 11-minute dreamscape, if I say so myself. 'Vultures Fly High' is a short, but mighty effective prog-rocker with the flowingly beautiful 'Ocean Gypsy' backing it seamlessly.
And then, of course, we get the 25-minute, nine-part epic 'Song Of Scheherazade,' the band's magnum opus that reinterprets Rimsky-Korsokov's classical tale about the Sultan and the magical woman where Scheherazade ultimately wins his heart.
Once again, the whole band shines throughout the live show: Annie Haslam's magical singing voice, Michael Dunford's brilliant guitar-playing, Keyes's powerful basslines (and co-lead vocals on 'Scheherazade'), Tesar's phenomenal keyboard work, and Pagano's incredible drumming.
The set is rounded out by the near 8 minute 'The Mystic And The Muse' and it just rounds out a simply tremendous live performance that once you see the accompanying DVD you will couple together with the CDs and quickly realize you had no idea how you have lived without them in your lives up until now!
Live In Concert - Tour 2011 (DVD)
1. 'I Think of You'
2. 'Things I Don't Understand'
3. 'Black Flame'
4. 'Cold Is Being'
5. 'Mother Russia'
6. 'Trip to the Fair'
7. 'Vultures Fly High'
8. 'Ocean Gypsy'
9. 'Song of Scheherazade'
10. 'The Mystic and the Muse'
2CD+DVD DigiPak Purchase Link
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