When guitarist Steven Rothery embarked on an European tour without his fellow musicians of Marillion - to promote his solo album The Ghost Of Pripyat (2014/2015, see review) - he was supported by RanestRane. This certainly gave this Italian progressive rock band a lot of attention in the media and in the progressive rock community, because most of them had never heard of them before. Not knowing that they are from Rome and were formed already in 1996. At the time they aimed to compose and perform rock-operas based on legendary films. The first one they worked on was Werner Herzog's film, "Nosferatu The Vampyre". The shows they did were called "cineconcertos", which meant playing progressive rock tunes along with the images of the Herzog's film projected in the background. In the end this resulted in the release of their first self-produced studio album Nosferatu Il Vampiro". A double CD that came out in 2006. Next was their version of the famous Stanley Kubrick horror movie “The Shining”. Again Shining was a double CD they released in 2011. Their last job to translate movies into rock opera's was based on a Kubrick movie again, namely “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Because of its long length they decided to come up with a trilogy. The first part of it came out in 2013 and they named it A Space Odyssey Part I Monolith. It was recorded in the line up which featured Maurizio Meo (bass), Daniele Pomo (vocals, drums), Massimo Pomo (guitars) and Riccardo Romano (keyboards).
Just like the already mentioned Steven Rothery, RanestRane also came with a release that contains the recordings of a show during one of last year's performances. This was done at the same Crossroads live club in Rome where Steve recorded his release Live In Rome (2014, see review). On this release you could already hear and see tracks done by RanestRane. So now this band comes up with a live release of their own which they named Monolith In Rome - A Space Odyssey Live. This release contains a CD and DVD and features Mr. Rothery as well.
With the same line-up as they recorded their latest studio album with the band went on stage to perform A Space Odyssey Part I Monolith in its entirety. The package of this release has an audio and video disc and therefore you can't judge them separately. Although the band mentioned that the DVD is a nice extra for the fans next to the audio on the other disc. Well this is certainly true but nevertheless if one of the two is terrible it has to be said. Thank God this is not the case. At first I listened to the audio of the whole live performance of the band's latest studio release. This sounded very good indeed. Everything was recorded in a perfect way. You only could not always tell who played certain parts or did the vocals. On two tracks of the rock opera it was mentioned that Marillion's lead singer Steve Hogarth contributed. Furthermore Steve Rothery was mentioned two times when the band performed their first part of their “2001: A Space Odyssey” rock opera. He was introduced by one of the musicians so I was sure he was present during the concert. Something that could not be said about Mr. Hogarth because he wasn't introduced. What I did know was that he made a guest contribution on the original studio recordings. So I had to wait for the video footage if he really was there on the day of the recording in Rome. Next to the whole performance of Monolith an extra track can be enjoyed with again Steve Rothery on electric guitar performing a wonderful version of Marillion's Cinderella Search. But that's not all you get on the audio disc. A fantastic new composition can be heard as well. It got the title Spacewalk and was performed live in the studio. This strong instrumental piece of music is one of the new tracks which can be find on A Space Odyssey Part 2 Hal. So something to look out for without any doubt.
I was really looking forward to see the video footage but I also knew what to expect in a certain way. Having already seen the video footage of Rothery's Live In Rome DVD it was clear that no real High-Definition cameras were used to film this concert. Also less cameras were used to shoot the whole performance. Therefore not the quality of a DVD release made by Marillion or Dream Theater could be enjoyed. However it did not mean their whole performance was less enjoyable. In a way the same could be said about the video footage that was used for Monolith In Rome - A Space Odyssey Live. During the whole hour the band can be seen on the stage of the Crossroads live club. You get a rather good impression what the musicians are capable of. While the images of the movie are projected behind them they manage to give an excellent live version of the songs that are featured on their latest studio album. The close ups of the musicians are rather good. You can see that drummer Daniele Pomo manages very well singing lead vocals while playing on his instrument at the same time. Also you can see that keyboard player Riccardo Romano does some extra backing vocals and he is the one who did the lead vocals while the band performs with Rothery Cinderella Search. Steve could furthermore be seen while they performed Materna Luna and Il Monolito Di Tycho. The Rothery sounding electric guitar parts were actually played by the band's very own guitar player Massimo Pomo. A musician who was influenced by Marillion's guitar picker. It's also great to see Maurizio Meo play on his double bass next to his usual bass guitar. The video footage also revealed that Steve Hogarth wasn't at the venue at all. Only his voice from the original studio recordings was used on the tracks Semi and Il Monolito Di Tycho. I must say I was really entertained throughout the entire concert the band and Rothery gave early 2014 in Rome. All of the seven tracks performed were a delight to hear and see. That they sometimes remembered me of Marillion or of the Italian progressive rock bands PFM didn't really matter to me. But most important of all for me was that they managed to keep me focused on the band's performances all the way.
Besides the footage of the concert two bonus parts can be enjoyed as well. Parts that kept me entertained as much as the band's live performance. First you get a half hour kind of documentary in which the band is followed during the making of Hal. The second part of A Space Odyssey which will hopefully be released in 2015. You can see the musicians talk to each other and playing music that will be on their next studio album. The video of the studio track (Spacewalk) that is featured on the audio disc is included next to two improvised parts. The final part on the DVD is the Monolith promo clip. During this eleven long video you can watch interviews with all of the musicians.
Monolith In Rome - A Space Odyssey Live released by RanestRane is without doubt a must have for fans of Rock Progressivo Italiano and those who enjoy Marillion as well. For me this release gave me a lot of pleasure. Watching and hearing music which comes from the heart and played with a lot of passion certainly deserves a much larger audience. Therefore please check out this band and release if you can. You won't regret it!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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