Album review: ALAN PARSONS – The NeverEnding Show, Live In The Netherlands (DVD + 2CDs)

Frontiers [Release date 12.11.21]

Lets face it, Alan Parsons showed good judgement and exquisite taste by recording with legendary bands, Ambrosia and Pink Floyd (but not together, though that would have interesting), back in the seventies. He could probably have dined off that for the rest of his musical career.

Since then he’s had to make do with 12 US Billboard Top Forty albums, 5 of them making the Top Ten. And 11 Grammy nominations.

Frontiers signed him 3 years ago, releasing his “solo” album, The Secret, in 2019 (featuring Lou Gramm, Mark Mikel and Jason Mraz). Weeks later, Parsons recorded The NeverEnding Show live on stage in Utrecht, with regular sidemen, PJ Olsen, Todd Cooper, Jeff Kolman and others, only months before the Covid bug bit down hard.

Most live albums are a tour version of a band’s recent studio release, but only one of the tracks from The Secret is here. Instead, Parsons represents a significant body of work through twenty tracks plucked from the past and the present, delivered to us here on 2 CDs and a DVD. (plus a bonus, a theatrical new studio track, ‘The Neverending Show’).

That “Secret” track, ‘One Note Symphony’, referring to the resonant frequency of the Universe (the Schumann frequency), opens the concert. It’s eerily reflective of his work with ‘Floyd, a restrained rock symphony, tightly constructed, evenly layered. Unsurprisingly, Parsons gets the music mixed down with balance, clarity and oomph.

Audience feedback is enthusiastic, if polite. It’s almost as if they want to hear the music, wow! Of course, this was never going to be a raw, raucous, sweat dripping from the ceiling live gig.  It’s an all round poised performance from a tight band, who transport a patchwork quilt of musical pieces onto a highly visual aural landscape, with nary a hair out of place or a smudge on the music’s handsome countenance.

That means that even the more intimate pieces, like the funky pop of ‘Damned If I Do’, the sunkissed westcoast rock of ‘Don’t Answer Me’ (echoes of Ambrosia ringing loud), and perhaps too the Toto-ish ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You’ are all able to stake out a piece of a busy stage, and call it their own.

And so it goes. There are too many great songs to mention them all…the biggies, like ‘Games People Play’, ‘Time’ and ‘Eye In The Sky’ are all here. And the band’s delivery is faultless. Done live, these are twenty carefully fashioned slices of music carved out of a 20 (studio) album career spanning 45 years, all adding up to 120 minutes of great music, coming at us live, in Surround Sound and Dolby Stereo. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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