The Enid has always been a progressive rock band inspired by classical music. Especially influences of the music of Richard Wagner can be heard on their albums. Therefore it's rather strange that they never worked with a real symphony orchestra. Instead they always used keyboards for the brass and string sections to get their classical sound. Their latest live album Live At Town Hall, Birmingham (see review CD, see review DVD) proved that adding the brass and percussion sections of the Chandos Symphony Orchestra fitted perfectly to the music. Using a complete symphony orchestra during a life performance was an even greater challenge for the band. This finally took place at Symphony Hall in Birmingham on the 15th of October 2011.
The recordings of that concert can now be enjoyed on the double-CD Live With The City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & The Warwickshire County Youth Choirs Music. Or Live At Symphony Hall as it is simply called on the band's website. During this concert the band consisted of Robert John Godfrey (keyboards), Jason Ducker (guitars), Max Read (keys, programming, guitars, vocals), Dave Storey (drums, percussion) and Nic Willes (bass, guitars, percussion) Special guests were The City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mike Seal, The Warwickshire County Music Service Youth Choirs, The Warwickshire Girls Choir, The Warwickshire County Youth Chorale, Northampton Decibelles, Seraphim Trumpetiers and Sean Montgomery, the organist of Symphony Hall.
The first part of the concert has been recorded on CD1. This part emphasizes on the first two albums recorded by The Enid namely In The Region Of The Summer Stars (1976) and Aerie Faerie Nonsense (1977). During the first piece Judgement, the symphony orchestra dominates the music with a bolero kind of rhythm by the percussion parts, reaching a wonderful climax during which the band can be heard as well. Especially the lead guitar and the drummer have a leading role here. It's nice to hear that this time a real trumpet player ends this piece of music which is also the start for another classic piece. On In The Region Of The Summer Stars the band has a larger role although the orchestra still plays the main parts. The outstanding melodies are played on the electric guitar accompanied by a strong rhythm section. The same applies to Childe Roland. On The Mirror Of Love the piano dominates the music accompanied by the orchestra. The last track Fand can be considered as a classical piece. You can hardly hear the band playing along with the orchestra. Halfway through, the guitarist and the rhythm section gets the lead before the orchestra takes over again. At the end of this majestic piece the electric guitar plays together with the orchestra.
CD2 starts with the second part of the concert. It contains the complete version of their latest studio album Journey's End including The Art Of Melody. This piece was never performed live as it was too difficult to play on stage, but accompanied by an orchestra and a choir it could be performed. Together with Malacandra and Shiva this piece belongs to the most classical orientated parts of Journey's End. The first three parts Terra Firma, Terra Nova and Space Surfing have a modern approach with vocals and elements of trance music. The inclusion of Mockingbird was a kind of homage to the late Woolly Wolstenholme, who committed suicide in December 2010. He once worked with Godfrey for Barclay James Harvest. With the addition of the excellent brass section of the orchestra it got a real classical treatment. During the final part of the concert I could enjoy a great version of Dambusters / Land Of Hope And Glory, which made me think of the Night Of The Proms festivals. Both lovers of classical music and rock music could enjoy and listen together to the fine versions of those compositions performed by The Enid and their friends on stage!
I would like to advise devotees of progressive rock who enjoy classical music as well to listen to this fantastic live album. All the people involved in this project gave a wonderful interpretation of the music of this unique band. I didn't mind that the orchestra dominated the music most of the time since this is a superb release as I may say so! The whole concert was also filmed for a possible live-DVD! Whether it will be released or not depends on financial issues!
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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