Earlier this year, I reviewed Ritual Echo (see review), an album from British band Legend that you may call a compilation album. This band, led by keyboardist Steve Paine, didnít have the success in their career they deserve anyway. Under Steveís supervision, we now can enjoy an audio live album recorded together with a video for the Japanese audience in 1992. I felt privileged to receive a review copy of Playing With Fire.
The soundtrack from the video tape lasts for over one hour and the sound quality is pretty good. The line-up of this live performance, recorded at the Castlefields Centre, Runcorn (UK), is the same as on their latest release. Certain songs from Ritual Echo are also present on this live-CD which made this album for me a shock of recognition. All songs are worth listening to, but to be honest, tracks as Windsong, The Chase and Dance that made me think about the early Marilion- albums, were my favourite pieces. The only difference is the absence of a male vocalist singing about mystical themes, but instead we can enjoy the strong voice of Debbie Chapman. Her voice has some similarity with the female singers from bands like Renaissance and Solstice. Most of the material performed consists of up-tempo songs with leading roles for guitarist Paul Thomson and the keyboards of Steve Paine. However, itís always nice to hear fine ballads as I Close My Eyes, The Healer and Lament of which the latter contains an awesome guitar solo. The songs beautifully sung by Debbie Chapman, are a kind of intermission between all the fast beats and riffs. On the other hand, Toccata & Blues is a typical live track that I enjoy most on a live album. In this kind of songs a band can show their musical talents. On this Bach- intro, keyboardist Steve opens his box of tricks and especially his organ play stands out. Heís supported by an aggressive, but tasty guitar solo by Paul Thomson. The final song we may consider to be one of their classics. Light In Extension sounds, like most of the songs on this live release, rougher than the studio version. This way it makes this album pure and honest like I think a live album should be.
Unfortunately Legend didnít include a DVD of this concert. It would have made it a complete package. I donít know the reasons why; maybe itís a matter of cost. Anyway, the audio disc already made me a satisfied listener. I always like to listen to old recordings that are worth listening to after eighteen years. Maybe the bandís next studio album Cardinal Points can even make me more satisfied.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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