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)
The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 26 September. This marked the start of a new monthly series. Josh’s next session is Sunday 31 October.
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 28 September 2021.
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Featured Albums w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TAO Prophecy (Tarot Label Media)
12:00-13:00 LEVERAGE Above The Beyond (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JOE TILSTON Tightrope (Our Records)
Power Plays w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)
ABOVE SNAKES Nothing To Lose (indie)
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS Cookin’ (Greenway Records)
LEADFINGER The Fall Of Rome (Golden Robot)
FEMEGADES Stealing Numbers (Regent Street Records)
TIGERSIDE Any Contact (indie)
INDYA Love Like Champagne (indie)
EDGE OF DESTINY Forsaken (indie)
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