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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Nick Barrett & Clive Nolan

A Rush of Adrenaline DVD

Review by Josh Turner

When it comes to building a bridge or constructing a wall of sound, the bigger, is usually the better. This is especially true in the world of progressive rock. It's more likely to corral the concentration of the alert and scholarly minds who follow the genre. Here's a case, however, where less is substantially more. While this is by no means a symphonic typhoon, surprisingly enough, it will likely sweep you off your feet.

Leaving the bassist, drummer, and most of their elaborate electronics at home, Nick Barrett and Clive Nolan come to Poland for one memorable and magical show. As an individual who requires a steady stream of bass in my music, I can honestly say it was not at all missed.

Barrett has developed a style that combines rock and folk into one neat and tidy package. His busy fingers fill in whatever holes can be caused by the absence of the low notes or the lack of any instruments. There is no need for the Dutch boy to plug up perforations in this dike. Barrett erects a dam that is sturdy, durable, resilient, and without any leaks

On the other side of the barrier, Nolan works entirely from a single keyboard, spilling the symphonic sludge into the mix. Barrett does most of the singing, but Nolan takes the lead in a few instances. Likewise, he constantly helps with the harmonies in a crucial, key, and indispensable manner. He is so enthused at times; the keyboard sways to and fro. He had me hanging at the edge of the seat, ready to pounce in order to pick up the pieces. Since the picture was so clear and the camerawork steady, it'll put you right there with them.

If you close your eyes, you'll swear there are at least four people in the room. Alas, it's just Barrett and Nolan on tap. Speaking of thirst-quenching contentment, they soundly connect with this reserved crowd of foreigners. They discuss drinking habits and do their best to translate comments into the local's native language. It was as if they pulled up a chair, settled in, and made themselves at home. With a hospitable audience glued to their seats, this seemed to be a genuine family gathering.

As for the song selection, it is impressive and includes many Pendragon (the band which represents their "day" jobs) classics. They play all their best songs and to my delight, all my pet favorites. Early on, they do excellent acoustic renditions of "Man of Nomadic Traits" and "Paintbox." Afterwards, there is no need to pack the bags and go. They chill us out with "Alaska" before letting us graze out on the range with "We'll Go Hunting Dear." To my amazement, I was pleasantly aroused by the shock and awe of the lyrically profound "Lightshow."

Both the old and the new are interspersed throughout this affair. Off of Pendragon's latest quest, one which they simply tagged Believe, "Two Roads" is quickly traversed. Conversely, they widen the path and extend their coverage by doling out "Walls Of Babylon," "King of the Castle," and "Voyager" in carefully measured droplets.

They end the set with a real crowd pleaser. It is known to all as "Nostradamus," but to some it's essentially "Stargazer." While it's incredibly upbeat, this bouncy tune will have you looking out to space in the most peaceful and pensive state.

Upon its conclusion, Barrett and Nolan swiftly exit the stage. As if on cue, the people jump from their seats and give these esteemed chaps a flurry of impassioned claps. Shortly thereafter, they come right back. As an encore, they choose to visit the regal domain of "The Black Night." With this, they've filled our cups to the brim whilst the credits roll.

In the midst of the event, they play notable numbers from certain outside projects as well. While these were mainly affiliated with Nolan, Barrett had no trouble catching on. Sticking out from the others, the haunting "Don't Forget to Breathe" seems to take on its own ominous identity. If Pendragon were a sane act, this song from Arena is instead Doctor Jeckyll's alter-ego. On top of that, we get "Mindgames" from Shadowland, and "Shadows Of Fate" from Nolan's collaboration with Oliver Wakeman (he's makes it a point to remind everybody that this is Rick Wakeman's son). Nolan steps aside from the keys and moves center stage with the mike in order to chant the lead on this easy to follow sing-along. To round out the peripheral material, they indulge us in a short medley, which embroils the likes of "Jigsaw," "Kruhulik Syndrome," and the title track from Ring of Roses. For the record, this also entails another Shadowland endeavor.

There is not too much of any one element nor are there any weak points in their chosen timber. Each song is as solid as oak, aromatic as pine, and as light as a feather. Ultimately, the balance to their set list is ideal, teetering between conventional Pendragon appliances and sultry side projects. The quaint duo delivers enough furnishings to completely cover a blank canvas. Residents will be happy with their choice of decoration and decorum.

Aside from the songs, the product comes with a few important extras. That would be an extensive interview, biography, and even some wallpaper for your desktop. The interview in particular is loaded with many interesting facts. Intertwined between each thoughtful question is a vignette of music from the concert. Like their music, both of these artists have fun and play off each other. Not to mention, many of their answers are enlightening in a Zen sense. You'll find out details about these two and their respective bands that you would have never known. It'll give you much to deliberate and ponder. Plus, you'll receive a number of honest replies in relation to what it's like being a working musician. As a whole, it will be hard to stop the tour, so make sure you've set aside enough time to walk through the entire estate.

If this came to me in an empty carton, I'd still be content. In spite of this, the packaging is truly exceptional and special. They use great color schemes and graphics throughout each screen, menu, insert, and label. I'll leave it at that, so as not to spoil the surprise. You can judge for yourself, but I found the title and theme to be both immensely funny and clever.

Not too long ago, I met Nolan in person and unlike many artists who whoop it up with gags and treat their tour dates as playtime; he is acutely serious about his trade. This can certainly be heard in his performance. He remains focused and intent, all the while nailing numerous difficult passages.

Barrett in some ways finds himself on the converse end of the charts and graphs. His giddiness supplies the hilarity, no doubt complementing Nolan's attempts at comic relief.

As they say, opposites attract and together, their magnetism will force you to listen. The fuller the music, the firmer the hold, but in this case, the less they do, the tighter the grip.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

 
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