'Hopefully, we don't have to wait another ten years or more to witness The Enid on a Dutch stage again. Playing prog like a classical orchestra, really make them a unique band in the world of progressive rock. They still belong to the best progressive rock bands both on record and on a live stage''. With those words I ended my review of the concert which The Enid did September 2010 (see review) in the Netherlands. For those who did not witness this fine performance or can't wait to see them one more time, the band gives their fans a good alternative. A registration of the band's first performance of their latest studio album Journey's End was filmed at Town Hall, Birmingham, England on the 16th of April 2010 and released on DVD recently.
What you can enjoy on this release was very much the same as I could witness with my very own eyes and ears last year in the Netherlands. Only the performance done in England lasted a bit longer and therefore even more great music can be enjoyed.
The musicians Robert John Godfrey (keyboards), Jason Ducker (guitars), Max Read (keyboards, guitar, bass, vocoder and vocals), Dave Storey (drums and percussion) and Nic Willes (bass and percussion) started their performance with an almost complete version of the already mentioned Journey's End. Only the song The Art Of Melody was left out just like they did when I saw them. This large piece of music was done without any interruptions and sounded very strong as if they had played it already and for a very long time. But that wasn't the case at all. It was the opening night of the tour and the first performance of the new album and it sounded remarkably strong. The accompanied light show made it look even more professional. The red, green, blue and white lights worked very well. The camera men made sure that you could watch everything at close range. The close ups of the musicians are very well done-something which you hardly do find on a DVD nowadays. Most of the time, a camera is too late to observe special things on a stage or they don't even notice it at all, so bravo to them! This way, it was very good to see how Godfrey directed his fellow musicians behind his keyboards. You also can see how good the double guitar sounds work between Ducker and Read. The sublime audio 5.1 surround sound makes watching this concert even more enjoyable. After this great work of art, it was time for the retro section according to Robert John.
A bolero rhythm played by Mr. Willes on the timpani is the start of the first classical Enid piece. Judgement sounds very impressive. A trumpet player at the back of the stage introduces In The Region Of The Summer Stars in a perfect way and this is how the song should be played always-but that's impossible I guess. This fine piece of music ends the first part of this splendid live show. After the break, Robert John starts the second part of the show by telling about how much he suffered from writer's block and thanks his fellow musicians. From that moment it's time for the guest musicians to enter the stage. First is Francis Lickerish (guitar and lute) who talks about his relationship with Godfrey and compares it with the relation between Churchill and Stalin. Together with the Brass and Percussion sections of the Chandos Symphony Orchestra, The Enid give the audience a superb version of Childe Roland. Next, John Beedle (guitar) gets on stage to play a fine version of Ondine featuring Francis Lickerish on lute. Mr. Godfrey gets a solo spot himself, playing a very strong version of The Lovers on the piano. Francis introduces the next piece Fand which features the former Enid member Grant Jamieson (electric & acoustic guitar). During this new version of this classic piece, it is notable that 4 guitar players have entered the stage to make the song even more special. Special was also the contribution of the Brass and Percussion sections of The Chandos Symphony Orchestra one more time. The show closed with Dark Hydraulic, a dance piece from the Tripping The Light Fantastic album with its ambient and pulsating rhythmic tones which is a real stomper as Godfrey mentioned during his performance in the Netherlands. It ended a historical performance of a band that had made their first steps back into the world of progressive rock music. Too bad that the new piece Invicta- Symphonic Rhapsody (excerpt) was not included on the DVD release of this concert. However, instead you do get a whole hour of interviews with the current members of the band. Robert John talks about the three guitar players he had worked with, the name of the band and other things from the past. Max mentioned being a bit nervous how he some 15 years old punk songs transformed into more suitable music for the Enid. Jason talks about the latest studio album and the things he learned from Robert John. Dave looks back at the early days with the band and how he reacted to an ad in Melody Maker. Finally, Nick has a few words about his working relationship with drummer Dave Storey.
All those highlights mentioned above make Live At Town Hall, Birmingham a stunning release which not only might be enjoyed by real die hard Enid fans but also a lot of other lovers of progressive rock music. They will find it worth buying at the bands website without any doubt. This excellent release only deserves the highest rating possible because it was made the best possible way! The audio from this stunning concert was released as a double CD as well (see review). It only has a different audio mix.
***** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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