One of the favourite bands of our main editor is The Enid. And he admires them a lot because they make an excellent combination of the more classic progressive rock music of the seventies with the modern beat sounds of the late nineties. A little bit of the long story of the Enid is revealed in our earlier reviews Arise And Shine (see review) and Journey's End (see review). This live concert at the Town Hall at Birmingham is done by the current members of the Enid Robert John Godfrey (keyboards), Max Read (keyboards, guitar bass, vocals and vocoder), Jason Ducker, (guitars), Nic Willes (bass and percussion), and Dave Storey, (drums and percussion). Special guests for this live recording are Francis Lickerish (guitars), Grant Jamieson, (guitars) and Jon Beedle, (guitars). There are also important roles played by Sean Montgomery (town Hall organ) and The Chandos Symphony Orchestra with their conductor David Etheridge.
The first song Terra Firma starts with heavy, rolling drums (like a marching band of soldiers) with up tempo beats in the vein of the song Bug Eye by England's proggers Galahad. Modern close harmony singing accompanied by an electric guitar solo by Jason makes this song an ideal opener for this concert. In Terra Nova you can hear space sounds, with tubas, trombones, timpani and trumpets: quite a unique combination I have to admit. Other highlights of the first CD are the songs Space Surfing and Malaca. It gave me the feeling that I was floating in a space capsule. The music of these two songs is a combination of Echoes by Pink Floyd, Eloy, The Moody Blues (Days of Future Passed), The Mandala Band and the music from the movie Blade Runner played by the Greek synthesizer magician Vangelis. The second part has a long heavy electric guitar solo with the orchestra. After the disappointing song Shiva, too hectic, themes of The Bolero by Maurice Ravel are introduced in the excellent song Judgement. A perfect melting pot of classical music meets progressive rock. Slowly, the song builds up to a musical climax of heavy orchestration (listen to the trumpets) with dramatic singing by a Greek choir and heavy guitar eruptions. Last song of the first CD In The Region Of The Summer Stars which is another mini symphony of six minutes. References are The Moody Blues, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.
The first song on the second CD is named Childe Roland and sounds like a mini heavy symphony as is often played in a film score. The Chandos Symphony Orchestra is doing a marvelous job here. Ondine is a short, romantic song where piano and electric guitar are the only instruments used in this pretty lullaby. The Lovers is as the title says a very passionate love song. If you like piano concertos of Mozart, Satie and Rick Wakeman (Yes), then you will enjoy this one. The centerpiece of their concert is the 22 minutes epic Fand. It has all of what the earlier songs had, but then a little bit more rough, heavy and with even more action and variation. It has elements of the music of the movies by master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock and the famous trilogy of Lord Of The Rings. Still, their magnum opus is not reached. The last song Dark Hydraulic is 15 minutes of fantastic symphonic and classic rock and that will blow your mind. The tension slowly builds up, but after a few minutes you are sucked into the rumbling beats and trumpets, trombones and tubas. Kraftwerk on the rocks, a dark speech by Adolf Hitler, marching troops and attacking bombers all fit perfectly into their looming musical landscape.
The Enid makes no music for weak souls but only for the strong man and prog rockers with an iron heart. If you are a member of the last clan, don't hesitate and add this one to your collection.
This double CD is also available as a DVD but with a different audio mix (see review).
****+ Cor Smeets (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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