Sometimes in life you get things you don't expect to get. This is in short what happened after the British act The Enid performed at the annual French (free) progressive rock festival Crescendo on August 23 in 2014. They were informed by the organisers that a local film maker had filmed their entire performance. They were totally unaware of the cameras at the time and were blown away by the footage. Luckily for them they also recorded the audio of the same show and could mix this together with the videos of the show. This resulted in the release of their latest DVD En Concert À Crescendo. So suddenly out of the blue they could release a brand new DVD which wasn't to be expected at all.
Since the band's latest DVD release Live At Town Hall, Birmingham (2010, see review) the line up of the band has changed slightly. Also the musical content on it can't be compared with how the band moves musically nowadays. Lead singer Joe Payne joined the band in 2011 and thanks to his strong contributions most of the songs written today contain vocal parts. Something which in the early days of the band was out of the question and only instrumentals were done. Furthermore bassist and percussionist Nic Willes could not combine his work with the band and being a member of The Editors anymore. Therefore he left and was replaced by Dominic Tofield.
Seeing the band in action at the French seaside town of Saint Palais Sur Mer proves once again what an excellent band The Enid are. The musicians perform four songs from their latest studio album Invicta (2012, see review), as well as a selection of the band's back catalogue. For the band's older fans from the seventies it is nice that they can enjoy strong versions of the classic Enid pieces Judgement Day and Childe Roland. Songs on which Payne does not sing but plays on his EWI instead. This instrument is a kind of modern version of the lyricon. A kind of woodwind instrument with synthesizer features. This way he helps the keyboard players Max Read and Robert John Godfrey to give the songs an even more orchestral sound. Summer, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dark Hydraulic are compositions from the eighties and nineties in which band leader Godfrey tried new things in the repertoire of the band, using vocals and modern dance beats. It's nice to see how Joe hits on his tubular bell, moves around the stage singing his lyrics for Something Wicked This Way Comes and making theatrical movements at the same time. During the danceable Dark Hydraulic he moves his lips as if he speaks the historical narrative spoken words. Also the vocal-guitar battle between him and guitarist Jason Ducker is great to watch! The biggest surprise was their cover version of Barclay James Harvest's Mockingbird. A track that was written or co-written by Godfrey. The guitar solo by Ducker is certainly one of the highlights of this old seventies composition next to the great twin-guitar parts he did together with Max Read. The way the song ends gives the music most certainly an original Enid touch. I guess this was just how Robert John Godfrey originally wanted it to be record by Barclay James Harvest. More in the vein of how The Enid recorded their music back in the old days.
As for the sound on this release I have no complaints at all. Everything sounds perfect in 5.1 surround. However the way the musicians are filmed on stage and the close ups of them could have been done a lot better. This very much shows that nobody had interacted with the band before everything was filmed. It's mainly Payne and Ducker who get the attention of the camera crew. Although a cameraman can be seen in the presence of Read and Godfrey they are hardly taken at a very close range. Only a few shots from the back of Robert John can be seen while he touches his keys. Not even mentioning drummer Dave Storey. You hardly see him during the one and a half hour the band was filmed on stage. Even new recruit Tofield gets more exposure and you can see him playing the bass and the assorted percussion. Sometimes from a point you didn't expect him to be filmed, but still they managed to nail him.
So after watching this DVD release I have mixed feelings about The Enid - En Concert À Crescendo. It's certainly nice for the fans to own a registration of their performance at the Crescendo Festival 2014. But I guess they would have loved to see all of their heroes at a very close range playing their parts, not only a couple of them, even if the sound is top notch! But getting something unexpected feels like a real treat! Therefore I can only say thanks guys for bringing this out in the open!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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