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Clive Nolan - Alchemy Live CD (album) cover


Clive Nolan



4.50 | 16 ratings

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5 stars Clive Nolan's Rock Opera, Alchemy Comes To Life By Way Of A Live Theatrical Performance Complete Inside A Wonderful, 5 Disc Boxset. 

Yes. The contents inside this Boxset are nothing short of pure gold. If one is a fan of the Alchemy Musical, then there is no question that any person adoring Alchemy for its unique nature is absolutely gonna love what is painstakingly put together in this wonderful, 3CD/2DVD package. 

Firstly, it is amazing to think about how much money and production really goes into making a full-fledged musical Rock Opera. Clive Nolan and CO had to perform many many low budget performances to raise money in Zoetermeer, Holland in order to set up a grand stage production complete with lighting designers, On Stage technicians, costume and make up designers as well as many camera and sound equipment/microphone technicians. Obviously, the goal was met by the many enthusiastic fundraiser performances, and the performance of Alchemy got its full justice on Sept 2nd&4th/2013 in Katowice, Poland at the Stanislawa Wyspiańskiego Theatre. Wow. Say that ten times fast. 

The Live Performance, which you will of course see and experience wonderfully on the first DVD in full (Act 1&2) with a 5.1 surround sound digital audio format to boot, so you the watcher and listener will be carried away into the world of Alchemy through a high quality audio and stage theatre production. How's that for immersion? 

As for the cast of Actors/Singers and session musicians, the line up still remains almost the same as the list of performers on the studio album version of Alchemy. 2 line up changes have been made where The Jessamine Character played originally by Noel Calcaterra has been replaced by Soheila Clifford, who does a great job indeed playing the flighty pick pocketing, deceiving yet loyal servant to Professor Samuel King (Clive Nolan.) Also the bully, servile minion to Lord Henry Jagman (Andy Sears) Ben Greaves originally played by ex IQ's Paul Menel is replaced adequately by the younger looking Christopher Longwood, who in my opinion looks more fitting for the part and performs extremely well in the live show, especially on the track The Unwelcome Guest. Longwood's vocals are not as rough as Menel's, but still gets the job done through the use of his younger, more smooth sounding vocals.  All in all, everything else remains the same and the replacements don't hurt the quality of Alchemy's live theatrical performance; In fact, I rather enjoy the live performance of Alchemy more than the studio album version for many reasons actually. Firstly, seeing and hearing Andy Sears (Twelfth Night) live and in the flesh performing as the main villain, Lord Henry Jagman really knocked me out. Sears is nothing short of a true professional in the theatrical arts and his vocal delivery is one of the best I've seen or ever heard with in a musical opera. I thoroughly enjoyed performances of the Prologue/Overture, deception, Jagman Arrives, Treachery and of course my favourite The End Justifies The Means...the hairs on my arms and neck stood up seeing and listening to that track in particular. The song, The End Justifies The Means is my personal and absolute favourite performance of any track on the entire Alchemy project. It is simply incredible and something that will be remembered from me for many many years to come. 

Moreover, The 2nd DVD consists of some terrific and thoughtful bonus content. You get a clever and original Alchemy Advert, which is intelligently brought to life with some clever graphics and compelling storytelling. Also, we are treated to what is called 'Stings', which is a brief introduction and synopsis of each character. I especially enjoyed the one for Lord Henry Jagman "Do Not Be Fooled By His Playful Exterior, He Is Actually A ruthless Piece Of Work!" very true, indeed! Other content contains an interview with Clive Nolan and drummer Scott Higham (Pendragon), who just has such a wonderful personality and approach to music in general. Also, we as the viewer are treated to the fundraiser tributes, which is very candid live and intimate footage of a few short performances in Alchemy. Quite interesting, but not the best sounding. Lastly, and most importantly Clive Nolan discusses very candidly the "7 Themes" of Alchemy, which is an important breakdown by how Mr. Nolan was able to piece together and compose the Alchemy musical itself and how certain rythems and note progressions are tied together for repetition and unity for the Alchemy musical structure/project itself. A very wonderful, informative piece of knowledge indeed. 

As for the CD content...well 3 CDs that is. The first 2 CDs are just the DVD pressings live performance put onto compact disc...just in case you don't feel like watching the musical, but the 3rd disc is really where it's at because it contains 16 bonus tracks of unreleased material and it is very interesting to learn how some of the songs evolved into the finished products they became to be, as heard on the Alchemy studio album. Songs like, The Unwelcome Guest is vocally performed by Clive Nolan himself along with Ambush and Burial At Sea to name a few. Also, there are a few completely different tracks that were originally going to be used in Clive Nolan's first musical, "She." Some examples are tracks,"Snow Chase" "Invisable" and "The Holy Bond." All of these tracks really take you through the mind  of how Clive Nolan likes to write and conceive music in a theatrical/musical way. Honestly, all 16 bonus tracks are great as well as very interesting, and you could argue picking up this box set for this disc alone...well...maybe not quite. 

Therefore, The luscious Alchemy Box set in my opinion is an absolute must have, and it is equipped to give you an extensive and comprehensive breakdown of the Rock Opera itself both musically and storytelling wise. All in all, I cannot imagine my progressive music collection without this Box Set and I know it is sure to entertain me for many more years to come. There is no question that this is probably thee best box set of 2013 and it definitely gets awarded a masterpiece rating. The contents are rich, the artwork plus packaging is of very high quality and the photos are beautiful while the actual performances are breath taking. You can't ask for anything more, so ask yourself this question...."Do You Believe?"

One other thing, I would just like to take a moment and say thank you to my dear friend here on PA, Mr. Michael H.(Aussie-Byrd-Brother) for his wonderful enthusiasm and high class, thoughtful collaborations when discussing the mastery with me that is, Alchemy! Thank you very much Michael. Your knowledge and passion for music in general goes unnoticed. I look forward to many more Prog adventures with you in the future. 


progbethyname | 5/5 |


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