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Renaissance - Live at Carnegie Hall CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.27 | 238 ratings

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2 stars Andrew Carnegie must have been rolling in his grave. Renaissance had released some good records and was about to release another (Scheherazade) when they performed these concerts in the summer of '75, but were they worthy of Carnegie Hall? And did part of the New York Philharmonic really have nothing better to do? The four sides of live music here are timid presentations (as timid as ambitious music like this can be, anyway), sticking too close to the original arrangements (as earlier critics have pointed out) and featuring a five-minute bass solo during "Ashes Are Burning" that would have made Spinal Tap snigger. The shows did introduce fans to "Ocean Gypsy" and "Scheherazade," and both songs benefit from the band's close kinship to the material. "Ashes Are Burning" and "Can You Understand" are other highlights from the show, but there's nothing on Live At Carnegie Hall you won't hear on the original studio albums. In fact, there's very little magic to be found here. A spoken introduction to "Scheherazade" becomes a pale primer, and the revelation that it took three months to read "Thousand And One Nights" begs the question of whether anyone read Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago" before writing "Mother Russia." I don't mean to come down hard on Renaissance, since they write good songs and perform them capably here. But live shows are supposed to be a window into the band's soul, minus all the makeup of the studio, and Live At Carnegie Hall instead takes pains not to let the seams show. If you want to collect everything by Renaissance, or you want to avoid collecting everything by getting to the heart of their best music, then Live At Carnegie Hall awaits you. As prog live albums go, however, this is a lame duck.
daveconn | 2/5 |


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