earMUSIC [Release date 27.05.16] 2-CD/DVD/Bluray/Vinyl
“Damned If I Do” may have described a personal dilemma in March 2015 as I toyed with the idea of making the pilgrimage to a rare Alan Parsons date in London. Inevitably, an early look at the set list and a bank balance shot by impending car restoration put paid to any plans. Two years earlier, in August 2013, the band played a gig in Colombia with 70 piece symphony orchestra and choir to give an added edge to a repertoire that goes back to ‘Tales Of Mystery And Imagination’ in 1976.
Ultimately, it comes down to set-list and it’s as much about what’s left out as to what’s in. For example, some may have preferred to hear the more commercial ‘Too Late’ from the lesser-known and later album ‘Gaudi’ rather than ‘La Sagrada Familia’. Personally I would have more likely made that London trip if the humongous title track ‘Stereotomy’ had been included, but it wasn’t and nor in South America.
But, in fairness, this 100 minute gig covers a fair amount of ground and most fans will be pleased especially given the added twist of a full orchestra. This merely emphasises the great musicality that permeates albums like ‘I Robot’ (with lends a wonderful opening groove), ‘Eve’ and ‘Eye In The Sky’.
Only ‘Stereotomy’ (1985) is unrepresented here, whilst ‘The Turn Of A Friendly Card’ is the axis upon which this performance turns. Arguably the strongest album, here it yields ‘Games People Play’, ‘Time’, ‘Snake Eyes’, ‘The Ace Of Swords’, ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ (with a vocal by Parsons) and the title track, effectively the whole second side of that release. This is all given a special fillip by the empathic presence of Alejandro Posada and the Medellin Philharmonic Orchestra.
The musicianship, guided by the professorial Parsons mostly from behind his guitar, is impeccable with regular live band members PJ Olsson (vocals), Alastair Greene (guitar, who voices a particularly good version of ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You’), Guy Erez (bass) and Danny Thompson (drums).
Like the boxed set released in 2014 this live album/DVD/Bluray is a good enough reason to re-evaluate back catalogue. Collectors should know that there is another 2-CD set available via Parsons’ website – ‘Livespan’ – taken from the same tour, recorded in Germany but without the orchestra. And, yes, I’m starting to save for the next pilgrimage should that opportunity arise. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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