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PAST AND PRESENCE

Pendragon

Neo-Prog


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5 stars Pendragon - Past and Presence This very eagerly awaited DVD has finally arrived! The packaging, whilst up to Metal Mind's usual high standard is breathtakingly beautiful and very impressive even without it's precious contents! This is the DVD of the concert to mark the 21st Anniversary of The Jewel. I find it shocking that it's really been 21 years since we all sat on my friends bedroom floor huddled around his record player and listened to this album with awe, but I guess it must be. This album has always held a warm spot in my heart, and watching this DVD shows that it's not just me, for those of you who like me remember the old Marquee days this is a very special treat indeed. In the main DVD you have a Pendragon line up that consists of Nick Barrett, Clive Nolan, Peter Gee, Joe Crabtree, plus Julian Baker (founder member with Nick Barrett) John Barnfield (first keyboard player and co writer of much of The Jewel) and Rik Carter (keyboard player in the Fly High and Jewel days) Technically this DVD sounds suberb, faultless and full of life, best of all it really does sound live, but for me the high point of this DVD is not its technically impressive production, but the energy, the emotion and the fun, this was one VERY special concert indeed. There are few bands who can re-unite in this way with genuine passion and warmth. All of The Jewel is on this DVD plus some other tracks of the time, Alaska is incredible, Dark Summer's Day has been jazzed up with the help of Jools on Sax, Stan and Ollie is mayhem! So much fun! The lighting is exceptionally good, but what really gets you the most with this DVD is the genuine warmth between the musicians, the fun of the gig, and that watching this is like becoming a time traveller you can almost smell the marquee! In the DVD extras you will find footage from the Riff's Bar gig in Swindon featuring Nigel Harris (original drummer) and it's difficult to find words to say what it was like to see Nick, Peter, Rik and Nigel on stage together again so this section is a great souvenir of that incredible gig. I have the special edition which also include two live CD's....... And to be honest it is worth every single penny! A massive thumbs up on this one chaps!

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Send comments to Wilcey (BETA) | Report this review (#119530)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Last week I watched an old video that contains a BBC documentary about the year 1977. Of course it was about the rise of the punk music and their venomous remarks towards progrock music: too important visuals, the musicians as small and tiny figures on stage, the self-indulgence during the soli and the great emotional distance between the musicians and the fans. When the neo-prog movement emerged in the early Eighties you can suggest that they had learned from the critical punk remarks: less indulgent and more direct music, more rock elements and especially more contact with the fans, even a kind of 'cult-following'.

I had to think about this while watching the Past And Present DVD because for me Pendragon is perhaps the best example of the neo-prog movement, even more than early Marillion and IQ: Pendragon plays straight-forward progrock, quite simply but with emotion and very tasteful, driven by neo-progrock veteran Nick Barrett with his warm, very distinctive vocals and sensitive and powerful guitar work. From the very first song on this DVD there is a great atmosphere (community singing, handclapping and screams of excitement) in the wonderful opera-like concert hall and the band plays inspired and enthousiastically. I am impressed by the beautiful lightshow with lots of blue and green layers and some amazing light effects. The sound is good and during the concert we can welcome all former band members because of the 21st anniversary of the album The Jewel: keyboard player John Barnfield (with his Memorymoog and Mark Kelly-like flights), multi-instrumentalist and co-founder Julian Baker (founded Pendragon in 1978 with Nick) and between the 6th track till the 'encores' there is keyboard player Nick Carter who delivers a great job. My highlights are the catchy Flying High, Fall Far (Nick changes his awful looking blue Fender Strat for a wonderful orange Gibson Les Paul guitar), the instrumentals Excalibur and Please (howling guitar runs), the beautiful and compelling Alaska (pleasant atmosphere and strong interplay), the 'classic' The Black Night (again howling guitar and lush keyboards) and the final song Stan And Ollie (prog and roll with fiery guitar and all band members on stage, great atmosphere!). A special moment is when Nick walks into the crowd to sing and then many fans start to take pictures from him while he is embraced or they put hands on his shoulders, who dare to say there is no contact between musicians and fans during progrock concerts?!

For me this is a neo-progrock document, I love the nostalgia and it's a great performance by the band, not to be missed by any neo-progrock fan!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#127320)
Posted Monday, July 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Past and Presence comes less than an year after their last DVD ...And Now Everybody To The Stage, and is recorded in the same place (Poland) and the same theatre, but it is a completely different affair. This time the group is celebrating the 21st anniversary of the release of their debut album, The Jewel (recently remastered). And they bring some of the original members of the band to play with them.

And what a celebration it was! The band seems to get better and better live with every DVD release. The lights, effects, sound and general stage performances are all above anything they did before on video. The band never seemed so at ease in front at an audience and yet they play with such cirurgical precison you wonder if they´re a actually mimicking to a CD. Original members John Barnfield, Julian Baker and Rick Carter are all in good form and add their skills to the songs with equal effectiveness as the current line up (well, almost!). Only drummer Nigel Harris is absent in the show, but not from the DVD: he did join Pendragon in a club in England and he is featured on the bunus footage, playing 3 songs with them (the bar had a much smaller stage, of course, but the sound quality is incredibly good and up to the main show)

The Jewel is hardly Pendragon´s best CD but all the basic elements of their sound are there from the very beginning and when the band plays those songs live they bring new life to them, showing some subtle and bright colors the original production was not capable of. Amazing! And not satisfied to play the entire album, they also included their early singles and b sides. Honestly I never thought that I´d ever see them playing obscure tunes like Dark Summer´s Day and Armaggedon, much less the instrumentals Excalibur and Please. All done with the usual passion and guts you´d expect from this great band.

A wonderful perfomance, the group proved they had enough power in the early songwriting not to rely on their later classic stuff (specially The Masquerade Overture) to hold the attention of the audience for more than an hour and a half. Actually, nobody missed them at all! I wish Pendragon´s next move is to do the same thing to their second released, Kowtow.

Past and Presence is a must have for any neo prog fan, and music lovers in general. 4,5 stars really. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#141461)
Posted Tuesday, October 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Very pleasant and tasty neo-prog show. When the show started and all these old guys were jumping around looking a bit cheesy I started getting worried. But I ended up won over by their obvious love of melody and jamming. The band brings out some ancient members for sort of a reunion show to the delight of the adoring audience. They do an admirable job but the real story is Barrett. Vocals are just spot on, always pleasing in a Jon Anderson way but a few notches lower in a more comfortable range. His guitar playing is a feast for the senses, way out front in the mix and just the perfect amount of squeal to it. He plays with much emotion and blends so nicely with Nolan's keys. The relatively new drummer Crabtree is also formidable in the live setting, adding some real punch to their sound. The visual production is great as is the sound, crisp and clear with one exception. I felt that the bass player was much too low in the mix-I like to feel some bass and I had trouble here. I'm not real familiar with Pendragon's albums so my review is on the live performance more than the material itself, but I will say that the music is pretty good. Certainly a recommended view for neo fans and symphonic fans who like the more pop side of prog. 3.25 stars.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#142472)
Posted Saturday, October 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Pendragon's Past and Presence captures a very special concert put on by Pendragon in celebration of the band's history. Recorded in Poland as a special treat for their very appreciative Polish fanbase, the concert saw a host of past members of the band making special guest appearance - with all the current and ex-Pendragon members present taking to the stage for show closer Stan and Ollie (a good call, since the song was essentially written as a goof-off piece to round off the band's sets with a happy party number, much like Marillion's Margaret).

Aside from 2AM from Kowtow (present as one of several encores), the songs here are all vintage Pendragon from their very earliest days - you have all the tracks from The Jewel and the Fly High Fall Far EP here, plus some delicious rarities otherwise only available in inferior versions on the Once Upon a Time In England compilations. Two decades have come and gone since the band recorded the versions of the songs we're most familiar with, and the additional experience really does show. Many of the songs here blow the original studio versions out of the water - even songs which sounded really excellent on the original recordings, such as The Black Knight.

I'd go so far as to say that this wonderful show is, perhaps, the absolute best way to experience Pendragon's material from before The World came out. Certainly, I would strongly encourage people to pick up the limited edition version which comes with a 2CD audio version of the show, because the audio stands up really well on there.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#719370)
Posted Monday, April 09, 2012 | Review Permalink

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