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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews



Review by Julie Knispel

Repeatedly in my review of the album She, I make reference to how impressive this material might be if staged as a musical.  Clive Nolan has perhaps felt this as well, and a live DVD of this album has been released concurrently with the 2-CD studio album, bringing all four main singers from the album to stage in Kartowice Poland on 31 October 2007.

As Nolan is restricted to vocal duties as a result of staging, his signature keyboard work is handled capably by Richard West, keyboardist for Threshold.  As referenced above, Alan Reed, Christina Booth and Agnieszka Swita all join Nolan for this live presentation of the epic rock opera he wrote based on H. Rider Haggard’s Victorian novel She: A History of Adventure.

Presented in widescreen 16x9, the album truly comes to life in a live setting, with costuming and staging mimicking perhaps an off-Broadway musical.  Admittedly, things are, shall we say, a touch lower budget than a typical Broadway blockbuster…the stage is more basic, with projections and backdrops used in lieu of expansive scenery.  These don’t necessarily detract from the show, however; the music and staging combine very well indeed.  But make no mistake; this is a rock concert…or at least, the audience seems to take it as such.  While they remain respectfully quiet during the performances, between tracks applause and ovations are the order of the day.

Sound quality is very good, with a choice of stereo or 5.1 soundtracks.  Generally speaking, I prefer listening to concert material in stereo, but the 5.1 soundtrack is reasonable ad doesn’t detract from the performances through the use of odd mixing tricks and techniques.  Video quality is excellent as well, offering crisp video and minimal noise in both bright and dark scenes. A variety of camera angles are used as well, ad thankfully shots are allowed time to develop, rather than cutting quickly from one shot to another in ADHD/MTV style.  Furthermore, plenty of attention is paid to the musicians involved on stage, rather than just focusing on Nolan/Reed/Booth/Swita; drummer Scott Highham does his best to steal the show, seeming to genuinely love the material he’s playing, and playing it with gusto and character.

For completists, there is one additional track performed live not included on the standard edition 2-CD set; "The Hermit"  fits between "Resting Place" and "The Sands of Time."

She on DVD does not simply comprise the concert material; an extensive documentary outlining the genesis of the original album project and live performance is included.  While the interview sections with Swita and Nolan are insightful, the most enjoyable material takes the viewer through the process of mounting this production live.  Stage rehearsals give a good idea of the difficulties in translating what was intended as a rock album to a live, staged setting, while drummer Higham ends up the star of this particular show, his cheerful, almost over-the-top personality outshining everyone else.

Additional to this documentary are desktop images, a text biography, photo galleries, et cetera…pretty standard extras in this day and age.

As impressive as the original studio album is, the DVD is even more so.  While both cast the material in similar manners, the power and energy that comes across in the live setting makes the DVD release of She the essential on in almost every way.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at
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