Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Feel good Prog Masterpiece
Davo | Melbourne, Australia | 08/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Concert dvds are a mixed bag, I have several that have barely had a listen. A few years ago I purchased "Score" by Dream Theater and it got plenty of plays until I tired of the dying in hospital drug theme, which detracts a little from the emotional highs of their music. But now a concert to surpass "Score", "Concerto Maximo" by Pendragon.
I was a hippy for a few years back in the early seventies, went straight and turned away from Yes and King Crimson to classical music (I did a unit of baroque music at University) and jazz. Five years ago I was revisiting my youth, as you tend to do when you get older, to look at what I used to like with experience and re-evaluate it. I found that while it put things into some realignment, the greater body of music I used to listen to was still good. Since then I have listened to about 2,000 hours of internet radio, http://thedividingline.com and http://www.progrock.com more or less filling in the intervening years.
I was aware of Pendragon, a favorite of "Lurker" (http://www.epicprog.net) but never quite got into them. Instead I approached this band through the back door. First of all Rene from Progroots played the overture to "She" a rock opera composed by Clive Nolan, keyboardist to Pendragon as a side project called Caamora. (http://www.caamora.net/).
"She" is based on the nineteenth century novel by H. Rider Haggard
I was instantly struck by the powerful undercurrents in the music. While there are some imperfections in the live performance, I prefer it over the studio album. Next I moved onto Arena puchasing "Pepper's Ghost" This is the type of prog I like.
Then recently I was walking in the forest and listening to "The Freak Show", a track from "Pure" on either Rogues Gallery or Epic Prog, I forget which, and was completely struck by the perfection of the theme. As we all know, prog is really baroque music in another guise. This theme is lyrical, it contains the best elements of bel canto style with embellishments that do not break the legato (connection between notes), it goes on and seems to sum up a whole life in so many bars of music. The version on the album "Pure" is better than the live performance where Barrett hesitates slightly with the embellishments and it doesn't have the same unbroken flow.
A good example of the Bel Canto style are the operas of Handel, Bel Canto strictly means "beautiful singing", I would describe it as a direct communication from the soul. I decided I had to get this album out of fairness to the musician, and for good measure I bought "Concerto Maximo" which a little like "Score", contains a sample of the music of Pendragon over the years.
I think it is enough to say that "Pure" the album released by Pendragon just before this concert, is the best prog album of the decade. The music is sweet, that is it is harmonic. Surely Nick Barrett is one of the finest guitarists of our time. The theme of the album is like Porcupine Tree's "Fear of a Blank Planet", a comment on youth. Initially I heard it a few times on various podcasts and mistook the commentary on youth as the opinions of the musicians and rated it "ok" but then hearing "The Freak Show" theme when my senses were sharpened I thought, "if only out of respect for a few bars of absolute perfection, I have to buy this album". While "The Freak Show" was the hook that got me in, I've grown to love "Eraserhead", and "Its only me" is a deep philosophical statement on the simplicity of beingness versus the betrayals of life in the world. Unlike Dream Theater the lyrics are good but then it goes on another level with Barrett's solos.
Mostly Nolan supports Barrett with a very Mellotron type sound, its amazing how much variety he gets out of his keyboards in such a short time. Peter Gee, a very versatile musician, does a great job on the bass, but you have to listen a bit to hear him, I think the mix could be adjusted slightly to boost the bass to what you would hear live. The camera team missed a few close ups of Peter when he was playing keyboards for instance. Scott Higham, who worked with Nolan on "She" and has only just joined Pendragon, seems to have been there for years, he is totally on top of the music. The other slight criticism I have is that the sound volume levels have been flattened so you don't get the dynamic variation of the live performance. But it is easy to criticise, it is a very good production and as I began this review, so many live dvd's are disappointing. This one isn't.
This dvd is expensive, but it comes with two audio cds. The Australian dollar has been down and it cost me half a day's pay, but it is worth it. The music is powerful and I find about 3-4 tracks at a go is enough. (Dream Theater are similarly intense). I think the "Pure" tracks are a cut above Pendragon's earlier material, as I said earlier I would rate it the best prog album of the decade, but on relistens, I am finding more and more in the other material on the dvd and I highly recommend the purchase of it."