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Clive Nolan biography

Born 30 June 1961, Gloucestershire, UK

Clive Nolan is a British musician, composer and producer who has played a prominent role in the recent development of progressive and symphonic rock.

He was a pupil at Wycliffe College and King's School, Gloucester. He completed his B. Mus and M. Mus degrees at London University where he studied composition, orchestration and conducting. He has been the regular keyboard player in Pendragon (1986-present), Shadowland (1992-present), Strangers on a Train (1993-1994), Arena (1995-present) and Caamora (2006-present) as well as writing music and lyrics for Arena, Shadowland, Caamora and numerous other projects.

Nolan is the founder member of The Caamora Theatre Company formed to produce and perform the Clive Nolan musicals. The premiere of 'She' took place in Katowice Wyspianski Theatre in Poland in October 2007. Subsequently, full theatrical performances of 'She' were performed in January 2010 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, followed by the eight-man 'She in Concert' variation in Holland in September 2011. In February 2012 theatrical version of 'She' debuted in the UK in Cheltenham Playhouse Theatre.

Photo by Neil Palfreyman

He was voted Best Keyboard Player by Classic Rock Society in the years: 1995, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011. In 2010 the Bolivian government awarded him with the title of Honorary Visitor to Santa Cruz, Bolivia for his theatre work in the city of Santa Cruz.

(Biography with thanks to the official Clive Nolan website)

See also:
- Arena
- Caamora
- Pendragon
- Strangers On A Train
- Shadowland
- Nolan & Wakeman
- Nick Barrett & Clive Nolan

CLIVE NOLAN Videos (YouTube and more)

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Metal Mind 2013
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Otra VidaOtra Vida
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Inside Out Germany 2003
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Alchemy by Clive Nolan (2013-05-04)Alchemy by Clive Nolan (2013-05-04)
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CLIVE NOLAN discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

CLIVE NOLAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.09 | 4 ratings
Conflicts (OST)
3.96 | 146 ratings
4.58 | 10 ratings
King's Ransom

CLIVE NOLAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CLIVE NOLAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.51 | 15 ratings
Alchemy Live

CLIVE NOLAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.15 | 7 ratings
Skeletons In the Cupboard
4.00 | 1 ratings
Hidden Treasure

CLIVE NOLAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Conflicts (OST) by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.09 | 4 ratings

Conflicts (OST)
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

2 stars First solo "album" by the neo-prog hero Clive Nolan!

And I'm writing "album" with quotation marks because this record is not the standard solo release that you are imagine. This is a compilation of two soundtracks that Nolan wrote almost 30 years ago for two independent British films, named Cahersiveen and Old Priest.

So this album has two clear parts, one for each film. Nevertheless, the style of the compositions of very similar, being Cahersiveen romantic and dramatic and Old Priest a bit darker. Neo-Prog fans will be delighted with the typical Nolan melodies in keyboards, but the hearing of this album is however not interesting apart from the curiosity of hearing Nolan trying to ambient these two pictures.

Pictures that after listening their soundtracks, I will surely never try to see.

Best tracks: it's difficult to pick separate songs of these soundtracks, but I must say that I prefer the Old Priest one, where End Credits is maybe my favorite one.

Conclusion: the two soundtracks included in Conflicts sound dated and not really interesting today, being the whole experience rather boring and only recommended for Neo-Prog hounds and Nolan's completists.

My rating: **

 King's Ransom by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.58 | 10 ratings

King's Ransom
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars

Clive and I started talking to each other at the time of the first Shadowland album, and I have been fortunate to review most of his recordings since then, through multiple bands and projects. I missed the musical 'She' (one of the problems caused by moving to the other side of the world), which was released under the name 'Caamora', but did come across 'Alchemy' which used many of the Caamora Theatre Company, but was released under his own name. Here he introduced us to the world of Professor Samuel King, and his battle with Lord Henry Jagman to solve the mysteries of Anzeray. I, like many others, log everything I play on the LastFM website, and according to their records I have played this album more than any other since I started logging my plays at the beginning of 2007 (the next two are 'The Snow Goose' and 'Snow' as you didn't ask). One of my daughters loves this almost as much as me, and it is often chosen to be played in the car, with "The Unwelcome Guest" being especially favoured (and consequently the most played song according to the same site).

So, when I heard that Clive was releasing another album in the same series I was intrigued. It just so happened that I was back in the UK in August for the first time in more than five years, and somehow the planets aligned for myself and Clive to meet for the first time in aeons. Sat in his music room, talk soon turned to the new album, so he passed me his bound copy of the lyrics and he then started to play highlights to me, explaining the story and thinking behind it. The events in this musical follow on from 'Alchemy', albeit a few years later, and does include some of the same characters. Interestingly, although many of the musicians have played on both, very few of the same singers are involved again. Also, although there are a couple of small mentions of things that happened on 'Alchemy', there is no need to have heard that release as this stands up in its own right. But, if one has heard the first one then there are both lyrical and musical repetitions designed to make the listener smile, as if they have been let into a secret.

One criticism I have heard of 'Alchemy', which had also reached Clive's ears, is that in many ways it is too dark, with too much death. Consequently, this album has been made deliberately lighter, with some quite comedic numbers. My favourite character is Captain Fergus Maunder, and it is obvious that Alan Reed (Anel Ganz, Pallas) had an absolute blast playing the role. For anyone who knows him, his Scots accent isn't nearly as strong as he lays it on here. There are too many musical highlights to mention, but "Haunted" always makes me smile, while "Nostalgia" reminds me of "Half Of Sixpence". Yes, in many circles Clive will always be known for progressive rock, and as I write this he has just returned from playing with Pendragon in Japan, but with his theatre productions he looks far away from the prog field, and looks instead to classic British musicals of the past.

Clive has stated that he feels that this is the first steampunk musical, and has released three short videos to provide just a taste of the show. At the beginning of September some lucky souls could see a performance of 'Alchemy' one night, and then 'King's Ransom' the next. Of course, I was back in NZ by then!! Yet again he has created a masterpiece, and only time will tell if this one gets played as much as the last. Also, he has left the door wide open for a third, and I hope there is enough interest in these for that one also to be written and performed. This is for anyone who enjoys musical theatre, particularly British, or just wants to hear some great songs well performed. This is a masterpiece.

 King's Ransom by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.58 | 10 ratings

King's Ransom
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by The Jester

5 stars Review # 67 Clive Nolan is one of the greatest musicians in the modern Progressive Rock music scene. His name is involved in a rather big number of bands or projects, such as Pendragon, Arena, Casino, Shadowland and others.

However, as Clive told me once, he always has been a great fan of musicals. In 2008 he released his first musical named as She, under the name Caamora. (The story was based on the book with the same name, written by H. Rider Haggard). His second musical was Alchemy and it was released in 2013, under his name this time. The plot took place in Victorian England in 'Alchemy Universe', and it was based on a fictional story, written by him. When I bought Alchemy, I couldn't believe how wonderful it was, and I have no idea how many times I listened to it! (Even today, it still is one of my most beloved albums of the last decade).

When I learned about King's Ransom, which is the sequel of Alchemy, I wasn't very surprised, mainly due to the fact that at the end of Alchemy there was a hint that the story could be continued in the future. On the other hand, I was a bit worried, because Alchemy was a really great album and I wasn't sure if he could repeat something like that again. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded...

I pre-ordered King's Ransom, and what I received was a box set, including 4 CD's, 1 DVD and 3 booklets. A very impressive and expensive production as it seems. (The 4CD's edition was available only for pre-order as far as I know. The normal edition includes 3CD's plus 1 DVD).

Now, let's take a look at the album itself. It is divided into 2 parts (Act I & Act II) and includes 33 tracks in total. Don't forget that this is not a Progressive Rock album, it's a musical. For the recordings of the album, Clive used 6 musicians and 11 singers who play the different characters of the story. In comparison with Alchemy, I think that King's Ransom is more sophisticated, and a bit 'darker'. The music is astonishing once more, and it changes according to the situations that the characters find themselves in. As for the performance of the singers, it is excellent on most occasions. (But that's totally a matter of personal taste).

I will not get into details for each song separately, because that is an unfair thing to do. The songs follow a storyline, and each of them has something to offer to the story. Therefore, there might be some songs not so 'strong' like others, but they add something and they move the story forward. Also, I enjoyed the dialogues that bind the songs together, because it gives a theatrical touch to the album.

Despite the fact that I put the CD's in my CD player and listen to them without skipping not even one song, there are some songs that I enjoy more than others. Some of them are the following: Act I: Poison Runs the Course, Silent Army, The Deal is Made, Legend of the Unicorn Orchid, and of course the wonderful Solitary Man, with the fantastic voice of Gemma Ashley. (Goosebumps. Every time!) Act II: In Harm's Way, Stand Fast, Turning the Tables, St Paul's and Epilogue.

I will conclude this by saying that, King's Ransom is a definite must-have for every fan of Clive Nolan, but not only for them. Every person can enjoy this album because it is definitely a serious piece of art! I don't know about you, but I know I am going to enjoy it for a long long time. And as Clive Nolan writes in the first page of the booklet; 'Turn the lights down, and the speakers up' and immerse yourself once more in the 'Alchemy Universe'' My rating: 5 solid stars without a second thought.

 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 146 ratings

Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I spent my New Years Eve last year going through Best of 2013 lists and tossing what I found into a Grooveshark playlist. One such album that I almost skipped was Clive Nolan's Alchemy, partially because I'm not really into New Prog anymore, partially because I could not find the complete album on Grooveshark. But I did decide to give it a shot, despite having incredibly low expectations, and I am incredibly glad that I did!

Clive Nolan's Alchemy is two things that I like: 1. Progressive Rock, 2. A musical. What does this mean, as a person who loves stories, music, dramatics, and the like? It means that this album is one of the most bombastic (in a good way) albums I have heard in a very long time.

I have mixed feelings about this album, however. Every song on it is incredibly good. The melodies are all wonderful and get stuck in my head constantly. There's not a bad song on this album. The way that Clive has built up the tension in various songs, the way he leads one melody into another, the way he piles things happening on top of each other - they are all so damn good to listen to that I just can't help but love the music in this album. The vocalists all do a wonderful job, minus some poor acting in a couple of places. Musical ideas are reprised and used to build upon ideas, improve the drama, etc...

My favorite melody is the song that Amelia (the main character I guess?) learned from her father. This shows up first in 'Waiting for News' as a peaceful little aside, is reprised in a great climax in Labyrinth, and then at the end of the show is played instrumentally in a very victorious / triumphant manner. It's a delicate little melody that has a lot of power and versatility behind it. Clive is a master of re-using themes for dramatic purposes and expanding / building upon them to tie things together. Musically, the album is very cohesive.

Ok, it should be clear by now that I am absolutely in love with this album, I listen to it constantly and have for a couple of months now. I also shuffle a playlist that has this album in it, and whenever a track comes up I get happy to hear it and be reminded of its existence. I am always tempted to play the full album again when this happens. So why do I say I have mixed feelings about it? The story.

The story, ladies and gentlemen, is flawed, and repeated listens continues to diminish the quality of it. Let me be clear - the first time through, the pacing, drama, and exposition suck you into the story and carries you along on a great adventure. So in the sense of considering the story as a journey, one can't complain. But re- listening to songs and knowing where they are leading the story to, one starts to find imperfections. Below is my analysis of such; it will contain spoilers, so please do not read ahead if you want to experience the story for the first time through the music. Also please note that the only reason these things bother me so much is because this musical is so AMAZING that it frustrates me that the story is not quite as tightly woven.

First and foremost, the most frustrating part of the plot is watching the heroes fail again and again, only to eventually lose to the villain, and then have it not matter. To summarise the plot, Henry Jagmond is trying to collect three artifacts with which he can revive Thomas Anzeray, an alchemist that died with the knowledge of how to achieve power over life and death. Jagmond succeeds, despite the best effort of our heroes (lead by Professor Samuel King). However, upon being revived, Thomaz Anzeray, sees how wicked Jagmond is and kills him instead of granting him the power he seeks. It is a great moment of tension in the music, and when Jagmond understands what is happening and begs King to save him, it is a truly great moment; as a listener, you are happy to hear Jagmond be defeated, be so terrified that his arrogant attitude is turned to begging for help from the man he has been competing with the whole show. Nonetheless, this does reveal a glaring problem in the plot: the lead characters need have done nothing. Jagmond could have been left to his own devices and he still would have lost. As there were very few interesting character developments during the musical, it does mar the adventure the characters embarked upon a bit.

In my opinion, the second most frustrating part of the plot is the poor use of the character Jessamine. She is a thief who is introduced in the middle of another song when she tries to pickpocket one of the other characters. She is then given her own song (Desperate Days), which is a wonderful song and really paints the picture of Jessamine as a person who has no place in the world and has been left with no choice but thievery. Something interesting could have developed there, but Jessamine is sent away a few songs later, and is not seen again until just before the end of the musical, where she betrays King + co to Jagmond. This is an interesting twist, and of course Eva (more on her later) is furious and outraged, until King outright says "oh by the way I paid Jessamine to betray us at a key time if we failed so that Jagmond would be stupid enough to gloat to us and give us one more chance to best him". Why did this not come up until now? Why was this necessary? Meanwhile, Jessamine sings about how they were all fools to trust her because obviously she was going to betray them. I just feel like Jessamine was given a very interesting start point and a story that I wanted to hear more about, and instead used only as a cop out way to bring all the characters together at the end (and then she vanishes instead of sticking around to see how things end).

To relate this to my favorite musical, Les Miserables, there are many characters, and they each have their own dreams and desires, which are impacted by the main plot. Jessamine's life through all the events that occur could have been explored more deeply, providing a grander backdrop to the events occurring.

Next, Eva. Eva is one of King's companions, and her role in the story seems to be getting offended about things that shouldn't offend her, and being overly indignant. She is my least favorite character, and if she had been written out, it would have changed almost nothing. It's revealed that she saved King's life, but not on- stage. The only song where she does anything by herself is where she sings about her love for King, and this happens at the end of the musical, after she has done pretty much everything she is going to do, so we don't get to really understand how this love impacts the decisions she makes along the way. Too little, too late, so to say, although I can't think of a place in the musical where we could have inserted this song without interrupting the flow of the story. Personally, I would have liked to see Eva written out and more time given to Jessamine, or at least the amount of stage time they were given reversed. I wouldn't mind not watching Eva butt heads pointlessly multiple times throughout the musical.

One last major flaw is The Labyrinth. Amelia is brought into the story when Jagmond finds her in debtors prison and offers to buy her freedom in exchange for information about the Labyrinth. She gives him the information, but in typical badguy style, he then doesn't free her anyways, instead leaving her to hang (but King, whom Jagmond had also failed to kill earlier, rescues her). Note to badguys: make sure they are dead before you leave them to hunt you down. Anyways, Jagmond recovers the first two artifacts, and the third is in this labyrinth, so King and crew travel to it to recover the artifact before Jagmond can. It is revealed that unless one has the knowledge to navigate the labyrinth, it is certain death, but thanks to a secret from her father, Amelia happens to know the secrets of the labyrinth. In a convenient twist, she did not realise the meaning of her knowledge until after she met King, and as such did not impart it to Jagmond earlier. This means that Jagmond could not have risked the labyrinth without risking certain death. Instead of leaving the last artifact safely out of his reach, Amelia leads the group through the Labyrinth, recovers the artifact, only to then be killed and the artifact taken from her. The Labyrinth is (in my mind) the most musically perfect song on the album, containing some amazing melodies and dramatics, all built together in an amazing way, so I always get super pumped when the song comes on. But I still don't understand why the company would even risk their lives to rescue the artifact if Jagmond lacked the information to safely recover it himself in the first place.

And Amelia's death bothers me; I feel like Clive Nolan thought, "Well, somebody should die, that's always a shocking plot twist, and what's more shocking than our leading lady?" And it was shocking when it happened, but it also killed off the only interesting side-story to the main events: Amelia's blooming love with William, King's last companion. Going back to my point about Les Miserables, each character had their own life, history, character, and made their own choices. Alchemy lacks this dynamic, being purely King vs. Jagmond with allies on each side. Amelia and William's story was the only additional thing going on other than this, and so the story feels fairly static after this story is abruptly put to an end.

William does lament Amelia's death quite emotionally in Burial at Sea (I also super love that ship captains voice!), so musically it's totally worth it to have Amelia die to get that song. William almost decides to abandon the quest, but ultimately decides to stick with it to the end. This was almost some great character buliding, except that, after that point, he does absolutely nothing for the rest of the play! As I said, Thomas Anzeray kills Jagmond at the end, not any of the company, so William's choice not to quit of heartbreak just means he gets to watch along for the remainder of the show. You are probably sick of hearing about Les Miserables by now, but I am going to make one last comparison. In Les Miserables, Marius goes through a similar thing when Cossette is going to leave the country, which leads to him joining the barricades with the intention of dying. He becomes a hero on the barricade, almost dies, and is rescued by another character who goes there because of him, only to be reunited with Cossette and get to marry her. His decision has an important impact on the story, and if he didn't make it, the entire story would play out differently. With William, there is no such payoff for his choice.

As I said, I really love this musical, and I really wish the story stood up as well as the music does. If the story had been at the same level as the music, this album would have contended with the best musicals out there. But nonetheless, a progressive rock musical is basically a dream come true for me, and the music is good and the story does stand up on a song by song basis (or if you don't think about it too much :) ), so I still have a huge love for this album and still listen to it frequently.

 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.51 | 15 ratings

Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars UK composer and musician Clive NOLAN is a household name within the progressive rock universe, and after the last few years probably establishing himself as a known entity also in other circles. He is arguably best known as a member of long lasting neo progressive band Pendragon, but have also been a member of a handful of other notable acts, in addition to contributing to the works of many other artists over the years. The last few years have seen Nolan concentrating on rock operas, or musicals if you like, and "Alchemy" is the latest of those. "Alchemy Live" documents the first live performance of this creation, and has been issued as a standalone DVD and as a deluxe box set edition. This review covers the latter, which consists of 2 DVDs and 3 CDs.

This monumental box set, containing more than 7 hours of material, is one that goes straight into the books as excellent value for money. The main DVD is the best part of the package, with 2 hours of a high quality performance supplemented with an hours worth of extra material, and while I found the live CDs to be somewhat less interesting than the DVD these are excellent productions in their own right as well, especially for fans of musical I might add. The bonus DVD is a bit more of a so-so affair in its own right, but interesting enough for fans of Clive Nolan and his Alchemy project, while the bonus CD is arguably the most interesting production as far as all the additional material goes. "Alchemy Live" comes highly recommended to fans of both Clive Nolan and musicals, especially those with a soft spot for slightly tall tales, and unless you're only interested in the stage performance or you have to deal with a limited budget, this extensive box set is the one you should treat yourself to.

 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.51 | 15 ratings

Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Earlier this year I was provided with some downloads to review, and although I noted that one was a new album by Clive Nolan I didn't pay it any more attention than any of the others, as although we have known each other for many years, I wasn't aware what it was. When I eventually listened to it for the first time I was blown away, so much so that I immediately purchased the album and a t-shirt! Since then I have played at least part of the album once a week, every week. It has become the 'go to' album in the car when my youngest daughter is with me (her favourites are "Ambush" and "Burial At Sea" while I always go to "The Unwelcome Guest", "The Warning" and "The End Justifies The Means"). It is rare for me to play music for pleasure (get out the violins and handkerchiefs) as I am normally listening to the next set of albums I need to review, but there is something incredibly compelling about this piece of work that brings me back time and again. The last time I can remember an album having this much impact on me was 'Snow', and I know I didn't play that as much as I have this. But, this isn't a review of the double CD of 'Alchemy', but rather of the five disc set which is 'Alchemy Live'. Two CDs of the performance, an additional CD of bonus numbers, a DVD of the live show, and then a further DVD containing loads of bonus material which gives a real insight into how this all came together.

For those who haven't heard 'Alchemy', it is a musical that brings together prog rock with many other styles, and while the musicians are all top class, it is the singers and arrangements that steal the show. It is a story of good over evil, with Clive being the good Professor Samuel King while Andy Sears is the evil Lord Henry Jagman. For the original album Clive brought in a good number of people he had worked with previously, and then it was decided that a full-blown live performance would take place at Wyspianski Theatre, Katowice, Poland. Although this has been written as a full musical, time and money dictated that this performance would see the singers standing in front of microphones, with the band onstage throughout. Mark Westwood (guitars - Caamora), Scott Higham (drums - Pendragon), Claudio Momberg (keyboards - Subterra) and Kylan Amos (bass) do a wonderful job, with backing tracks provided by Penny Gee (violin) and Ian Stott (horn).

Virtually all of the singers who were on the album are here with three exceptions. So as well as Clive and Andy we have Agniescszka Swita (Amelia Darvas), David Clifford (William Gardelle), Victoria Bolley (Eva Bonaduce), Tracy Hitchings (Jane Muncey), Damian Wilson (Captain Joseph Farrell) and Paul Manzi (Milosh). So in Andy, Clive, DC, Tracy, Damian and Paul we have singers all used to fronting bands. The 'new' singers are Sohelia Clifford (Jessamine), Christopher Longman (Ben Greaves) and Chris Lewis (Thomas Anzeray). So, just four musicians but 11 singers, and what an incredible night this was.

One thing that I noticed when playing this is that there are a few times when a voice goes slightly sharp, which is great as it proves that if you were there that night then this is what you would have heard. Now, I can't believe that anyone is going to buy a five disc set unless they already know the material, so instead of a full track by track review, here are just a few highlights.

First off, Andy is the consummate villain. He was born to play this role, and of all those involved is the most theatrical of the main roles, and at the same time he is singing better than ever. When he hit the high notes in "Deception", which is only the second song, I knew we were on for a good night. Agniescszka is a star throughout, with incredible range and pitch, and her duet on "The Warning" with Victoria is a joy to hear. But, I have to confess that the song I was waiting for was "The Unwelcome Guest" which starts as a duet between Tracy and Christopher before Victoria and DC join in on one of the most complex vocal arrangements of the whole performance, as they all sing different lyrics and melodies. But, although it is still a standout song with a stunning performance from Tracy, I felt that Christopher's voice is just too smooth for this, and lacked the edge provided by Paul Menel in the studio. Also, it must be a nightmare to count in and Claudio was trying to help by providing some additional notes but it doesn't really come off.

Sohelia is DC's young teenage daughter, and her voice belies her age as she owned the role of Jessamine and her major solo, "Desperate Days" is a triumph. But her dad is no slouch either, and "Amelia" among others shows what a wonderfully clear voice he has. Paul plays the part of a pirate to perfection in "Ambush" and relishes the role he was given, while Damian could never be anything but the consummate professional. With his hair tied back, and beard in place, can this sailor captain really be the same singer that has fronted so many bands?

Then of course there is Clive. This was his night, the culmination of years of work, and the result is just staggering. He more than stands his ground with the rest of the singers, and given that he is normally a keyboard player in the background that is no mean feat. But, if I was to point to just one song, one line, in fact one word, that makes this indispensible to those who already have the studio album then that would be Victoria in "Treachery", where when confronted with Jessamina who she believes has betrayed them, she calls her "bitch". That one word, is sung with such power and passion that the hatred is palpable and makes this all feel so very real indeed.

Metal Mind have brought together an incredible package, with a five disc fold-out digipak, each side showing a photo of one of the singers, and a 40+ page booklet with all of the lyrics plus more photos, details of where all of the songs from the bonus CD come from. Some of these are original demos, while others are songs that never made it to the final album or morphed into something else.

Of course, as well as the music there are two DVDs containing the complete show plus loads of additional material including interviews, fundraiser footage, 'Making Of' etc. The result is something that is worth far more than the lousy 5/5 I can give it. Looking at the Top 2013 in PA, I can see that 'Alchemy' is currently at position 22 (a travesty) so there are obviously many people who have purchased the studio album, and if they love that half as much as I do then this is an absolutely essential purchase. I wasn't able to get to the Cheltenham shows in September (something to do with living on the other side of the world), but until I do manage to catch up with this wonderful cast then this is something to which I will often be returning.

 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.51 | 15 ratings

Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

4 stars Clive Nolan is widely known in the Prog community as the keyboard player in Pendragon and Arena. But he also has many side projects like Caamora, Strangers On A Train, The Cast, Shadowland and of course his solo career. His newest work is called Alchemy Live (2013). The original project, Alchemy (2013), was released early this year, but it was Clive Nolan's idea to take the musical to the stages too. Alchemy (2013) is a Victorian story set in 1842 that tells the old Alchemist tale.

The album started to be written by Nolan in 2009 after his first musical She (2008) and it ended up being recorded on CD, but being Nolan involved in theater and musicals for quite some time he always intended it to go live on stage. So finally, in February 2013 a big 21 people team of musicians landed in Katowice, Poland, to stage the story of Alchemy. Aided by a handful of Prog singers and a great band, Nolan delivers a delightful piece of work.

The names involved in this project are no strangers to any Prog fan: Tracy Hitching (Landmarq, Strangers On A Train), Andy Sears (Twelfth Night), Paul Manzi (Arena), Damian Wilson (Threshold, Headspace and solo), David Clifford (Red Jasper) and Agnieszka Świta (Caamora) are the voices. And Mark Westwood (guitars - Caamora), Scott Higham (drums - Pendragon), Claudio Momberg (keyboards ? Subterra) and Kylan Amos (bass) are the band.

It's obvious that the singers are not actors and because of that the concert lacks a bit more of representation for a live event. But this leads us to the main thing here, the music! The 2 hours of Alchemy Live (2013) and its 27 songs are great and absolutely well- rehearsed and played. And the story is more than interesting with a truckload of details to sink in. The fact that each character is played by a different voice helps a lot to make you interested.

In the end each of us have its favorites voices, but for me the ones that stand out are Andy Sears, David Clifford (besides his love weak songs), Paul Manzi, Damian Wilson (he only does a small appearance, but he's always great), Soheila Clifford and Nolan himself proves to be a great singer!

Musically, Alchemy is as wide and full of influences as a musical can be. For me the strongest and the most interesting parts are when many vocals join together in counterpart melodies. On the production side, besides some weak images that appear in every new scene, the overall quality of the show is very positive and professional. The booklet of Alchemy Live (2013) is a case apart. A 44 pages one, in an old, book kind layout with all the lyrics, details and many pictures.

As bonus content on the simple DVD edition we have interviews with Clive Nolan, Agnieszka Świta, David Clifford, Scott Higham and Mark Westwood. We also have a Making Of, a Photo Gallery and Destop Images for your computer.

Recommended not only for Pendragon and Arena fans but for every musical fan around!

(Originally posted on

 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.51 | 15 ratings

Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by progbethyname

5 stars Clive Nolan's Rock Opera, Alchemy Comes To Life By Way Of A Live Theatrical Performance Complete Inside A Wonderful, 5 Disc Boxset. 

Yes. The contents inside this Boxset are nothing short of pure gold. If one is a fan of the Alchemy Musical, then there is no question that any person adoring Alchemy for its unique nature is absolutely gonna love what is painstakingly put together in this wonderful, 3CD/2DVD package. 

Firstly, it is amazing to think about how much money and production really goes into making a full-fledged musical Rock Opera. Clive Nolan and CO had to perform many many low budget performances to raise money in Zoetermeer, Holland in order to set up a grand stage production complete with lighting designers, On Stage technicians, costume and make up designers as well as many camera and sound equipment/microphone technicians. Obviously, the goal was met by the many enthusiastic fundraiser performances, and the performance of Alchemy got its full justice on Sept 2nd&4th/2013 in Katowice, Poland at the Stanislawa Wyspiańskiego Theatre. Wow. Say that ten times fast. 

The Live Performance, which you will of course see and experience wonderfully on the first DVD in full (Act 1&2) with a 5.1 surround sound digital audio format to boot, so you the watcher and listener will be carried away into the world of Alchemy through a high quality audio and stage theatre production. How's that for immersion? 

As for the cast of Actors/Singers and session musicians, the line up still remains almost the same as the list of performers on the studio album version of Alchemy. 2 line up changes have been made where The Jessamine Character played originally by Noel Calcaterra has been replaced by Soheila Clifford, who does a great job indeed playing the flighty pick pocketing, deceiving yet loyal servant to Professor Samuel King (Clive Nolan.) Also the bully, servile minion to Lord Henry Jagman (Andy Sears) Ben Greaves originally played by ex IQ's Paul Menel is replaced adequately by the younger looking Christopher Longwood, who in my opinion looks more fitting for the part and performs extremely well in the live show, especially on the track The Unwelcome Guest. Longwood's vocals are not as rough as Menel's, but still gets the job done through the use of his younger, more smooth sounding vocals.  All in all, everything else remains the same and the replacements don't hurt the quality of Alchemy's live theatrical performance; In fact, I rather enjoy the live performance of Alchemy more than the studio album version for many reasons actually. Firstly, seeing and hearing Andy Sears (Twelfth Night) live and in the flesh performing as the main villain, Lord Henry Jagman really knocked me out. Sears is nothing short of a true professional in the theatrical arts and his vocal delivery is one of the best I've seen or ever heard with in a musical opera. I thoroughly enjoyed performances of the Prologue/Overture, deception, Jagman Arrives, Treachery and of course my favourite The End Justifies The Means...the hairs on my arms and neck stood up seeing and listening to that track in particular. The song, The End Justifies The Means is my personal and absolute favourite performance of any track on the entire Alchemy project. It is simply incredible and something that will be remembered from me for many many years to come. 

Moreover, The 2nd DVD consists of some terrific and thoughtful bonus content. You get a clever and original Alchemy Advert, which is intelligently brought to life with some clever graphics and compelling storytelling. Also, we are treated to what is called 'Stings', which is a brief introduction and synopsis of each character. I especially enjoyed the one for Lord Henry Jagman "Do Not Be Fooled By His Playful Exterior, He Is Actually A ruthless Piece Of Work!" very true, indeed! Other content contains an interview with Clive Nolan and drummer Scott Higham (Pendragon), who just has such a wonderful personality and approach to music in general. Also, we as the viewer are treated to the fundraiser tributes, which is very candid live and intimate footage of a few short performances in Alchemy. Quite interesting, but not the best sounding. Lastly, and most importantly Clive Nolan discusses very candidly the "7 Themes" of Alchemy, which is an important breakdown by how Mr. Nolan was able to piece together and compose the Alchemy musical itself and how certain rythems and note progressions are tied together for repetition and unity for the Alchemy musical structure/project itself. A very wonderful, informative piece of knowledge indeed. 

As for the CD content...well 3 CDs that is. The first 2 CDs are just the DVD pressings live performance put onto compact disc...just in case you don't feel like watching the musical, but the 3rd disc is really where it's at because it contains 16 bonus tracks of unreleased material and it is very interesting to learn how some of the songs evolved into the finished products they became to be, as heard on the Alchemy studio album. Songs like, The Unwelcome Guest is vocally performed by Clive Nolan himself along with Ambush and Burial At Sea to name a few. Also, there are a few completely different tracks that were originally going to be used in Clive Nolan's first musical, "She." Some examples are tracks,"Snow Chase" "Invisable" and "The Holy Bond." All of these tracks really take you through the mind  of how Clive Nolan likes to write and conceive music in a theatrical/musical way. Honestly, all 16 bonus tracks are great as well as very interesting, and you could argue picking up this box set for this disc alone...well...maybe not quite. 

Therefore, The luscious Alchemy Box set in my opinion is an absolute must have, and it is equipped to give you an extensive and comprehensive breakdown of the Rock Opera itself both musically and storytelling wise. All in all, I cannot imagine my progressive music collection without this Box Set and I know it is sure to entertain me for many more years to come. There is no question that this is probably thee best box set of 2013 and it definitely gets awarded a masterpiece rating. The contents are rich, the artwork plus packaging is of very high quality and the photos are beautiful while the actual performances are breath taking. You can't ask for anything more, so ask yourself this question...."Do You Believe?"

One other thing, I would just like to take a moment and say thank you to my dear friend here on PA, Mr. Michael H.(Aussie-Byrd-Brother) for his wonderful enthusiasm and high class, thoughtful collaborations when discussing the mastery with me that is, Alchemy! Thank you very much Michael. Your knowledge and passion for music in general goes unnoticed. I look forward to many more Prog adventures with you in the future. 


 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.51 | 15 ratings

Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars The idea behind this project was not to do a progressive rock opera, but a musical in the tradition of some of the past. Clive Nolan has taken so much time in the last seven years to do "She" and now "Alchemy", that he would like to see this show take by someone else. The story of Alchemy is set in the Victorian days and is about the search of artefacts in order to unearth the secrets of alchemy. To realize that story, Nolan has to use plenty of characters dressed in ancient costumes with a choir and musicians which, for some he has worked in the past. The choir ensemble is very impressive and the singing takes a lot of space in this musical. Mark Westwood on guitar and Kylan Amos on bass are low profile, while the keyboards and drums are more up front. The musicians are a support to the singers and characters and are intentionally in the back of the stage. We are far away from the Neo-Prog genre of Arena and Pendragon here, but more into a symphonic art-rock style where classical arrangements and plenty of singing are in the heart of the show. There is also one character who is a real opera singer.

A nicely done concert by the Metal Productions crew, and this time the surround mix is louder than usual, maybe a bit too much in the back speakers. This theatrical production bring another dimension to the music, it would have been more impressive to see it live, but not everyone can go to Europe, so this is the occasion to have a good taste of this great live experience.

 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 146 ratings

Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by herrkaiser

5 stars Well, is this somewhat pompous ? Yes! Is it a bit pathetic ? Yes! Does it border to "Kitsch" ? Sometimes! Is it pure Prog? No!

Do I love it ? You bet!!!

This is simply beautiful music. Ok, if musicals are totally not your cup of tea, you might not like it. Otherwise, get it!

There are so many great singers, wonderful melodies and dramatic moments, I can hardly make out any weak parts, which means something as I am normally pretty critical.

Some of the songs bring even tears to my old eyes, which is rare.too :-)

My favorites:

Burial at Sea Desperate days (what a singer!) Amelia The girl I was Street Fight

the only little critic I have is the cover, but that's just a matter of taste.

Thanks to easy livin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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