If this short and sweet tour was bookended by a couple of false starts, it demonstrated the easy charm of the bandleader. “Is there anyone here from Bolton?” she enquired as she marked time. “Is there anyone who went to school with me? I’m serious!” And we almost got an impromptu version of ‘Monster Mash’. At the Citadel, the gig was delayed whilst Annie Haslam sorted out some vocal/reverb issues but things finally settled down with opener ‘Prologue’.
The gig – promoted by Classic Rock Society – demonstrated that you don’t always need a support band; not least it means that the main band leave the soundcheck in the knowledge that everything is just right, secondly it might allow a longer main set. And the choice of support was questionable to say the least with Polish rocker Agnieszka Swita not really complementing one of prog’s most venerable.
It seems crazy that Renaissance may not have toured in the UK since the 1980s, only coming back together in 2009 and then only with the late Michael Dunford and Annie from the “classic” line-up.
The rest of the band includes her long-time musical director Rave Tesar and newcomer Mark Lambert (guitars) together with Frank Pagano (drums), David J Keyes (bass) and Tom Brislin (keys). They do great justice to the Renaissance canon with the expected highlights ‘Mother Russia’ and ‘Ashes Are Burning’ well balanced by the more recent material from ‘Symphony Of Light’.
And then there is that wonderful voice, unchanged through four decades. If Renaissance reflect the dawn of symphonic prog and gentler times, it is still possible to trace Annie Haslam’s lineage in some of our contemporary female fronted bands. At times – on pieces like ‘Symphony Of Light’ and ‘The Mystic And The Muse’ – you could imagine Annie vamping it up in some dark Hammer Horror – circa. 1972 of course – or am I thinking of Ingrid Pitt?
One hopes that they do return to the UK soonest, but perhaps in a slightly more opulent venue than the Citadel. They should really be savoured in fully seated surroundings and of course with the appropriate amount of reverb on the vocals.
1. Prologue 2. Carpet Of The Sun 3. Ocean Gypsy 4. Running Hard 5. Grandine Il Vento 6. Symphony Of Light 7. Northern Lights 8. The Mystic And The Muse 9. Mother Russia Encore: 10. Ashes Are Burning
Review and photos by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Gig review (The Stables, Wavendon, 14 April)
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
Power Plays w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)
COLLATERAL Mr Big Shot (Roulette Media Records)
BABY HUSBAND Stop Thinking About Tomorrow (indie)
OF ALLIES Off The Map (indie)
EXPLORING BIRDSONG The River (indie)
MARISA AND THE MOTHS – Slave (indie)
CATTLE AND CANE I Wish I Knew Jesus (Like I Do)
KING VOODOO Creep (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Big Blue World (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 REDLINE Gods & Monsters (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 WILDWOOD KIN (Silvertone/Sony)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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