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Renaissance

Live at Carnegie Hall (Remastered & Expanded Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This new reissue of a classic Renaissance live album is exceptional. You get the original album across two CDs (with a song from the show that hasn't been released on CD before). If that wasn't enough, you get a third CD featuring a concert from the same period that was recorded for the radio. It's all assembled into a clamshell box and features a great booklet. If you've owned this before, you should still get this because it's a big improvement over earlier editions. If you've never picked it up and want to hear some classic live Renaissance performances, you can't go wrong with this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One
              
Prologue

They bring things out with this killer opener. The tune is energized and powered up as it starts, making a great opening number. It has a short dropped down interlude before rising back up. Then they take things forward in a killer melodic folk rock meets prog jam. A section further down the road has some particularly strong bass work serving as the backdrop for some piano soloing. This becomes an extended instrumental movement, at first focused on world music, but moving to more classical stuff from there before the vocals return. There are a lot of vocals in this song, but they are all non-lyrical. This live performance really captures all the magic of the studio number.

Ocean Gypsy
I love this melodic tune. It has some classy prog changes. The vocal performance really shines. Everything about this live performance is just about perfect.
Kiev (Previously Unreleased)
Piano starts this cut. The track works out from there with style. It has a lot of that folk prog element at play. This makes effective use of male vocals. The fast paced jam around the three-and-a-half-minute mark is so classy. It gets into some driving, powerful prog before things are over and done.
Can You Understand
This is a powerhouse Renaissance classic. It's delivered in fine fashion here. The cut has  a number of intriguing shifts and turns along the road, dropping to mellower movements for a good deal of its run. This is such a cool tune and the orchestral elements really add a lot.
Carpet of the Sun
I've always loved this song. This orchestra really does a lot to elevate the cut. This is actually a very soaring and evocative performance of the piece.
Running Hard
Fast paced piano jamming is on the menu as this begins. It brings a real classical flavor to things. Once it drives out into fast paced prog jamming we're off with lots of style and charm. Again the orchestra brings some particular magic here. This thing really rocks well in this live rendition. The jam mid-track gets quite classical in nature. That movement gets a bit precious for my tastes, but it works out nicely to resolve in style.
Mother Russia
There is an extended symphonic introduction to this number. It works from there into the song proper, with the symphonic elements adding a lot to the powered up bits. This is really a strong rendition of a classic tune.
CD Two
           
Song of Scheherazade

The first of two epic pieces that make up the second CD, this is a suite that runs over 28-minutes here, including the extended spoken introduction. The symphonic elements that open this bring a suitable world music sound to the cut. As the rock music joins we're off into killer prog zones. This epic piece uses both male and female vocals to good effect. As you might imagine from a multi-part suite like this, the cut has a lot of varying flavors and textures. It drops to near silence mid-track and rises up very slowly. This thing is quite a ride.

Ashes Are Burning
This epic gets a smoking hot live rendition. I really love the keyboard soloing after the four-minute mark. I love the fact that we get a bass solo in this tune around the eight-minute mark. That solo is an extensive one and quite powerful at that. The cut comes out of that with such a powerful instrumental movement. It's almost 16-minutes into the cut before the vocals return. They drop things way down to mellow zones to herald Haslam's return.
CD Three
           
BBC Radio One "In Concert"
           
Prologue

Here we get another version of this strong opening piece. I'd put this rendition on an even level with the one from the other concert. I love the classical excursion mid-track here. The piano drives it in great ways.

Running Hard
This rendition of the piece seems to have more energy and fire than the one on the other disc. It's a really strong version. The dramatic movement around the five-minute mark also seems improved from the other concert.
Ocean Gypsy
At less than six-minutes long, this is the shortest piece of this second concert. It's a powerful live rendition of a great folk prog number. It has plenty of peaks and valleys. It's evocative, and this is a great live take.
Mother Russia
I like this live rendition a lot, too. It's a powerful take on the piece. It's quite faithful to the studio rendition, but has a certain live energy to it. It really has some powerful moments.
Song of Scheherazade

Starting symphonic, this fires out into a powerhouse jam that's heavily keyboard based at first. The epic piece keeps shifting and growing as it works through different movements. They put in quite an effective rendition. There are parts of this I prefer to the version from the first concert, while other parts were better in that take. This does feel closer to the studio version in some ways. Of course, it's not like the other one was greatly altered from it. This just seems to have a mix that's closer to it.

 
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