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Renaissance - Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Part 2 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.70 | 54 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is the second of the two disc release drawn from Renaissance's performance at Royal Albert Hall in October of 1977. It is also in my view the more interesting of the two albums.

The reason I say this is because it draws material from Novella apart from also including concert staples Running Hard, Mother Russia and Ashes are Burning (which is a super-super-extended version). In comparison, Part 1 only has Can You Hear Me from Novella, while the rest is mostly material you already have from Live at Carnegie Hall (I say mostly because Prologue on Part 1 is performed by the orchestra and is a very interesting interpretation), rendering that a little more superfluous.

It also helps that the two tracks drawn from Novella on this album, Touching Once and Midas Man, translate better live than Can You Hear Me with its plodding interlude. This performance of Touching Once features what is almost like a duel between saxophone and Renaissance's lead instrument Annie Haslam and is far and away the best one I have heard so far. Annie is in superlative form and the RPO also seems to respond better to Renaissance's music than did the New York Philharmonic, elevating this performance even perhaps above the studio cut. There's precious little to choose between the versions of the Turn of the Cards tracks on here and LATC.

The album also features a performance of Prologue drawn from a 1979 concert. It is a really good one and is now available in video format (um, black and white just like the rest of the Song of Scheherazade DVD, I am afraid) on Concert Vault. As an appendage, we have You (Pts 1 and 2) which would make it to the outtakes album Songs from Renaissance Days and sounds positively incongruous in this lush, orchestral live album with its extremely 80s sounding synths and percussions.

The other problem is the performance of Ashes Are Burning. By this point, Renaissance seem to have grown almost inordinately fond of this, one of their most magical and best loved tracks. Surely, extending an originally 11 minute or so track to 28 minutes (!) is a feat that even ELP would have been proud of. Consider that nearly 5 minutes of this is just Jon Camp on bass. While he may be a fine player, the problem is he doesn't really explore any interesting harmonic possibilities on this solo and only seems to be demonstrating the limits of what he can do on the instrument. The performance never completely recovers from the loss of momentum at this point even though all the rest of it that they play is very well done.

For this and for forcing You on to this collection, I dock a star and give the album 4 stars. If you would like to hear a more confident version of Renaissance than that seen (heard) on LATC and also add some Novella along the way, this is a great release. If you do not have LATC at all, then Albert Hall pts 1 and 2 are more worth your time in my humble opinion.

rogerthat | 4/5 |


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