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Twelfth Night - Live And Let Live  CD (album) cover


Twelfth Night



4.43 | 69 ratings

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5 stars "Lebensraum for megalomaniacs" (We Are Sane - Twelfth Night)

This line was written in 1982 by the late Geoff Mann, how actual!

In the first part of The Eighties the 'new British progressive rock movement' started to blossem (with the London Marquee as the beating heart), speerheaded by Marillion and in their slipstream formations like IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Abel Ganz, Solstice and, last not but least, Twelfth Night. They were 'a bit different', to say the least. In 2010 I did an interview with Brian Devoil and Andy Sears (they had just re-founded Twelfth Night and released the 2-CD and 2-DVD album MMX) and finally I got my chance to ask about their personal musical taste. And how the press did their best to pigeonhole their unique sound in the Eighties. Well, about the personal taste of the Twelfth Night members, according to Brian and Andy "this ranged from U2, Simple Minds and The Cure to early Queen and punk". And they quoted fellow Twelfth Night member Clive Mitten who said "that he wanted to sound as a cross between Van Halen and Frankie Goes To Hollywood!". Brian and Andy remembered that the press often compared them with Roxy Music, but also named Twelfth Night "the Duran Duran of the prog". Reading these words you can imagine why Twelfth Night sounds ' a bit different'.

This review is about the live album Live And Let Live that was recorded on November the 4th and 5th, 1983, in the legendary London music temple the Marquee Club. It was the farewell gig from their charismatic singer and frontman Geoff Mann, he had decided to go solo. In February 1993 he died, due to cancer, this review is dedicated to this wonderful and creative human being.

1. The Ceiling Speaks (8:26) : The atmosphere alternates between a mid-tempo, slow downs and bombastic outburst, embellished with powerful guitarwork, catchy synthesizer flights and Geoff Mann his distinctive emotional voice.

2. The End Of The Endless Majority (3:18) : A wonderful instrumental track that features a duet between the acoustic Ovation guitar (flageolets and twanging) and sensitive electric guitar play. In the end a surprising accellaration with propulsive rhythm guitar and howling electric guitar runs. It sounds unique, subtle and fragile, and showcases the strong compositional skills of the band.

3. We Are Sane (12:04) : This is a typical Twelfth Night longer track that blends Seventies symphonic rock elements with the Eighties New Wave sound, unique. The intro contains a cynical combination of "bla bla bla" and words like "unemployment'" and "the enemy" by Geoff Mann. Then soaring strings and high pichted, soprano-like vocals, gradually the music becomes more lush with wonderful volume pedal electric guitar play and Geoff his cynical voice. Suddenly a bombastic outburst featuring distorted guitar and fat synthesizer sounds. In the second part the music alternates between dreamy, catchy up-tempo and bombastic. This is wonderfully coloured with howling electric guitar runs, a deep Moog Tauras bass pedal sound, topped by Geoff his outstanding vocals, from tender to powerful. In the end Geoff theatrically shouts WE ARE SANE, then a short bombastic outburst, what an exciting and compelling music!

4. Fact And Fiction (5:27) : Another intro with spoken words by Geoff, this time a parody on politicians, "we are the fact and they are the fiction". Then a tight up-tempo beat with tasteful and varied keyboard work, topped with powerful vocals, "don't make me laugh, haha" Geoff sings with that distinctive cynical undertone.

5. The Poet Sniffs A Flower (4:03) : The other instrumental, starting with soaring keyboards, twanging electric guitar, then wonderfully build up to a fluent rhythm featuring dynamic interplay and howling electric guitar runs, how exciting!

6. Sequences (17:14) : Originally an instrumental, Geoff re-wrote it, fitted lyrics into it and the new version became 'a classic'. It's Twelfth Night their 'magnum opus', their answer to Supper's Ready, Karn Evil 9, Close To The Edge, Echoes, Grendel, but different. We can enjoy lots of shifting moods, from dreamy to up-tempo and bombastic, in the symphonic rock tradition. But the unique colouring with the guitar and keyboards is the Twelfth Night trademark: from flashy flights on the Moog Prodigy (the 'poor man's Minimoog') to biting wah-wah drenched guitar soli ,and from soaring strings to propulsive guitar riffs, often accompanied by the clapping cheerful crowd. And topped with Geoff his powerful and emotional vocals, with some exciting theatrical outbursts. In the end a short sumptuous eruption, with a pumping bass, tight drum beats and sensitive electric guitar play. "Seventies symphonic rock meets Eighties New Wave", Twelfth Night their trademark, here in its full splendour.

7. Creepshow (12:06) : This is Twelfth NIght their most unique and captivating composition with great lyrics, vocals and musical ideas. First a dreamy climate with tender keyboard runs, subtle electric guitar play and Geoff his distinctive voice. Then lots of shifting moods, coloured with Moog synthesizer flights, inventive guitar work (including the 'hammering' sound) and dominant bass runs. Geoff delivers lots of vocal ideas, theatrical, powerful and especially the part with spoken words is very compelling. Finally a bombastic atmosphere with moving guitar, loaded with howling runs, supported by sumptuous keyboards, this is 24-carat symphonic rock, but different, goose bumps!

8. East Of Eden (5:14) : This is a basically a straightforward rock song with a tight beat, but wonderfully embellished with tasteful keyboards, cynical vocals and in the end again a moving guitar solo with howling runs.

9. Love Song (8:29) : The lyrics in this beautiful, very emotional and compelling composition are rooted in Geoff his religious ideas, he liked to spread the words of Jesus that we should love each other. Because "jealousy is such a parasite, hatred a disease" he sings. The music matches perfectly with these words: first dreamy with tender vocals, twanging guitars and soaring keyboards, then a slow beat featuring wonderful volume pedal driven electric guitar and finally bombastic with very moving guitar work. Goose bumps, wet eyes, community singing, what a great atmosphere in this final track, Geoff his final contribution, and perhaps his best!

For me this is one of the masterpieces of the new British progressive rock movement, far away from those Nineties Neo Prog bands like Shadowland, Everon and Arena with their polished and predictable sound. Here it's variety, adventure, emotion, lyrics and ideas in an unique meeting between the worlds of Seventies symphonic rock and Eighties New Wave, highly recommended!

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |


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