Saturday, February 13, 2016

Renaissance -- Birchmere - Feb 12 2016

Renaissance - This is the first Renaissance performance for me since the sudden death of long time guitarist and writer, Michael Dunford. Fortunately, Annie Haslam has the strength to carry on and retains much of the excellent band that has guided the Renaissance resurgence in the 21st Century. Rave Tesar is pivotal as pianist and conductor of sorts to keep things bang on time. Tom Brislin adds keyboard and synthesizer runs and this double keyboard attack still allows the band to recreate the complexity of their music on stage with deceptive ease. Frank Pagano is also around on drums and Leo Traversa is fairly new on bass. Mark Lambert replaces Dunford on guitar and he has worked with Annie Haslam in her band, so there is at least a little comfort with this change.
But of course, it is Annie Haslam that keeps the long time fans coming back time after time. When I chatted with her last week, I was most curious as how she has been able to retain her amazing voice for 45 years now. You can read about that and more here, but in a nutshell it is clean living and operatic training. She still has that supreme power that she lets flow from a delicate style with an even keel, smooth transition. Annie Haslam believes in flow when she paints and it is also fully evident when she sings. She knows her voice and moves to and from the microphone to assist with the fading moments. There is absolutely nothing lacking in her or her band, so a Renaissance show in 2016 is every bit as vibrant and energetic as the shows of old. You can't say that too often.

I also enjoyed the set list tonight, although if they could have snuck in a couple more favorites, I or the large crowd would not have complained. When I last saw them, they did my two favorite albums in entirety, which although longer and including classics and odd favorites, really did not connect with me as much as I had hoped. Tonight, it was a great mingling of old with several new songs that hold up just as well to anything of old. No polite applause for the new stuff, while you wait to cheer for an upcoming classic. Every note clicked to tonight from the opening piano from the first song on the fist album with Annie Haslam to the long time classic encore, Ashes are Burning. Renaissance are as great as ever and Europe is going to be in for a real treat as they head over there for an extended tour with Curved Air.

Set List: Prologue; Carpet of the Sun; Immortal Beloved; Grandine il Vento; Symphony of Light; Sounds of the Sea; Cry to the World; Mother Russia; A Song for All Seasons; Encore: Ashes are Burning.

Facebook photo grab of the Day: If you like cats, I recommend the whole series of Business Cat as the subtle humor works over the full length of all panels.

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