Friday, September 23, 2011

Renaissance - Birchmere - Sep 22 2011

Renaissance - Renaissance return to the Birchmere for the fist time in a couple of years, although they also played the State Theater once in between. This time around, they are playing both "Turn of the Cards" and "Scheherazade and other Stories" in their entirety. In all honesty, I am growing a little weary of this concept. I would rather be surprised at what songs a band chooses on a given night with recent compositions, classics, obscurities, cover songs, revisited oddities, or requests. But at least they picked my two favorite albums so I am not overly concerned. It appears to be mostly the same band with the two keyboard line-up that works really well at creating a full sound that still allows plenty of room for Annie Haslam's soaring vocals. She still has it and that is what most of this large crowd is likely happiest to see. They do the album in order with pretty much the same arrangements. I can see why they skip "I Think of You" during their previous tours, but everything else sounds excellent. They did three of these six songs last time, so it's clearly a favorite of theirs. "Cold is Being" was a nice change-up as Annie Haslam sings to a solo icy organ. The sound was really off in the beginning cut but it was righted by about the third song. The PA was shrill which was noticeable during the overly long entrance music. It thinned out the vocals and the rhythm section. Eventually Haslam sounded full and great and the rhythm section was balanced nicely with the keys and acoustic guitar. After a break, "Scheherazade" was next. I did enjoy hearing the full title cut and the other songs were solid. I learned  "The Vultures Fly High" is about music critics. Egad, at least I am flying high. They certainly had a point in the day as the gaggle of critics studiously avoided (at best) a lot of progressive bands in the 1970s. The title cut was great and the crowd was enthralled. I am not sure if it was better than last time's great show, but it wasn't much worse. They encored with "The Mystic and the Muse" which I would say was the only surprise, except I had it written in my notes before they even came back to the stage. Promises of live recordings and new albums were welcome with the crowd and I plan to check those out as well. A good night, but I look forward to next time with new material and an interesting mix of their back catalog.

Quote of the Night: Annie Haslam... "I used Frank's bells on the last tour and every night one would fall of and there were only five left at the end. Useless information, but now it's yours... a band thing."

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