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Barclay James  Harvest - BJH Featuring Les Holroyd: Classic Meets Rock CD (album) cover


Barclay James Harvest


Crossover Prog

3.51 | 8 ratings

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3 stars This is Les Holroyd's second DVD release in four years and a vast improvement on its lacklustre predecessor. This time around a multi-camera professional outfit was hired to record a single concert in AmnÚville, France in April 2006, one of a number accompanied by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Despite difficulties with the band's monitors, it is an excellent performance that does justice to a fine band.

Visually, it is well presented with many different angles to maintain the interest. Personally I find they jump around too much, but that is the modern way of doing things, and at least you do get to see everybody. Don't expect pyrotechnics on a Floydian scale though - this is a film of a bunch of people doing what they do best, ie playing music. Mike, an excellent underrated guitarist, is generally quite demonstrative, but otherwise the band is not very dynamic. Aurally, the music comes across well in Dolby stereo. I have issues with some mix decisions, and like many BJH related items I find the production is a little too soft in places where it needs more guts, but generally is detailed and excellently produced.

I could do without the pair of 'orchestra only' tracks that open the show, but otherwise the setlist is an enjoyable trawl through Les's career, using the orchestra to add extra colour to established favourites and enhancing arrangements to breathe new life into others. The band play well, turning in a very solid performance throughout, really picking up the pace towards the end with Ring Of Changes / Play To The World / That Was Then, This Is Now which forms a distinct hotspot towards the end of the film. Generally, I find this band is at its best on newer songs like Back In The Game or Yesterday's Heroes while being a little less comfortable with the older material.

Certainly, I find it hard to accept Les singing Hymn, especially as he has unconvincingly appropriated John's 'yeahs' between verses. There also remains the issue of Les's singing voice which has not aged well. A couple of cringeworthy moments merely highlight the fact that his vocals have become very problematical for the less dedicated listener.

In many ways, this is the DVD that should have been made in 2002, and it certainly makes that one obsolete. There are no new songs here, but performance and presentation is so much better, with the added dimension created by the orchestra. Atmosphere is lacking, possibly due to the size of the stage, but overall it's a good one from Les, though I suspect I will listen to the CD version far more than watch this.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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