DVD review: PANIC ROOM – Screens Live In London

Get Ready to ROCK! have followed Panic Room’s progress from the very start and many gig and album reviews have been featured.  David Randall from Get Ready to ROCK! chatted to Jon Edwards shortly before the release of Panic Room’s debut album, in March 2008.  In this archive feature he revisits their interview.  (10:17)

PANIC ROOM - Screens Live In London

www.panicroom.org.uk [Release date 10.11.17]

Crowd funded by ‘Roomies’, Screens captures Panic Room in ‘full flight’ at Islington Assembly Hall in October 2016, and is available in Standard and Deluxe Editions, the latter’s main additional features being three ‘bonus’ songs, plus sound check and rehearsal footage.

The 22 track set – which embraces the band’s five studio albums, is also available on CD, again in two formats – in a standard double jewel case, or as a limited edition digipack with 32 page photo booklet.

In using Toward Infinity, who have been responsible for all Marillion’s live DVD releases since 2007, Screens captures  an ‘up close and personal’ view of the show, and the essence of the band’s live performances.

That said, Panic Room aren’t an overly visual band.  And fairly rudimentary lighting (which makes much of the footage a little ‘dark’) aside, they’re almost exclusively reliant on Anne-Marie Helder as a visual/stage focal point.  So Tim Sidwell’s team have had to use plenty of camera angles, close ups, cropping, and splicing to keep things moving along from a visual perspective.

It’s also worth adding that the sound has been captured to perfection by Tim Hamill – the engineer responsible for recording and mixing each of the band’s studio albums since 2010.  Live sound recordings don’t get much better.

So what you get is very much a Panic Room gig in your living room – a typically virtuoso performance from bassist Yatim Halimi, some blistering runs from Dave Foster (but come on Dave, smile a bit more for the camera!), Jon Edwards keeping to the shadows but at the core of the band’s sound, and Anne-Marie doing what she does best – looking alluring, and sounding even better.  It’s an all-round consummate performance.

What the DVD does reveal, however, is just what a magnificent drummer Gavin Griffiths is.  It’s all too easy to overlook his contribution when he’s hidden behind his kit.  But here, his poise, timing and technique are revealed for all to see.

It’s something of a personal highlight, along with the wonderful fade at the end of ‘Chameleon’ – through Jon Edwards jangly keys, Dave Foster’s bluesy lead lines, and Anne-Marie’s exquisite flute, the sheer delicacies of ‘Firefl’y, the late night blues of ‘Denial’, and some searing versions of Panic Room ‘classics’, too many to mention (without running through pretty much the whole set list!).

Having been an ardent follower of the band since their debut Visionary Position almost 10 years ago, I can say that Screens does an excellent job of capturing the experience of the band’s live performances, and ‘Roomies’ will, no doubt, be delighted.

For maximum enjoyment though, I’d recommend it’s best enjoyed with a couple of beers, on a wide screen TV, with ambient lighting well dimmed, and the volume cranked up through a decent audio system.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

Panic Room play Robin 2, Bilston, West Midlands on Friday 10 November.

Gig review (June 2017)

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 12 December. The session above was a Halloween Special streamed on 31 October 2021. Josh’s next session is Sunday 30 January 2022.

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 19 December 2021 and celebrates The Best of 2021 based on the GRTR! reviewer selections and popular poll results.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT 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 4 January and features show highlights from the year (Part 2).

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