[Another repost from a Yahoo Group...this deals with the Beacon Theatre concert which has been called one of the best Renaissance ever played...with or without an orchestra]
There is something rather nice and somewhat cool about giving another listen, another view to some of Rens older material. As was mentioned in this space before, yours truly has had some spare time due to some circumstance beyond her control and has been able to get back playing on the portable CD those concert discs that made the rounds a while back. Like any of these, they are special shows, but the Beacon one holds a rather special place here.
For one, yours truly had brought along several of my sister and a few close friends at the time to the show...these were folks I wanted to share this band with because to be honest, there was word circulating amongst the fan community that they may be on the way to a breakup, unless they were able to secure some type of record deal [many here do know the stories about what happened during and after this tour - one such being that Columbia Records had offered the band a two album deal, full backing on a tour, but rumour had it that Jon had on behalf of the band squashed the deal - so if I need to be corrected on this, please do so]. So in effect...one way or another this was going to be a show that would be one for a longtime fan to savor and for a newbie to say 'gee why did I not hear of these folks before'.
Second, word had spread that not only was their new material, but that they were playing their hearts out. Not just bringing their 'A'game to the stage, but their 'A+' game. Yes, I know a sports metaphor, but it can also be applied to musicians in that there are some nights when they will phone in a performance of their newest material, but also their 'greatest hits' would sound as though they were going through the motions. For Renaissance that evening, thiswas not the case....they brought it all and then some.
On disc one for example, it is apparent that Mick Taylor and Gavin Harrison had become not just members of the band, but placed their own stamp on the Ren classics. 'Prologue' for example never sounded as good as it did that night, rocking a heck of a lot harder than even the 'Time-Line' encore version [think in terms of what some classical orchestras do when they really want to show off and you get the idea] and it got us in the crowd going. 'Carpet of the Sun', 'Can You Hear Me Call Your Name'...these being the first three in the set were amazing. Then came the newer material which on further listening would not be out of place with most of what is on air these days...or even back in the mid 80's. Come to think of it, 'Flood at Lyons' from Azure d' Or would be in the same ballpark.
There is something that needs to be mentioned about what happened during the playing of the songs 'The Animals are Back' and 'You', which is not that apparent on the disc. During 'Animals', a string broke on Jon's bass. It happens, no biggie, just go quickly run to the rack next to the drums, strap on the Fender Jazz Precision and carry on from there. One problem, apparently it was not plugged in to the wireless mic system and was not able to be played, so Jon...trooper that he is....continued on bass pedals and then after the song was over, grabbed a replacement Great White from a roadie and played the rest of the show. But those of us who were there noticed that Jon had ripped into his roadie with a fervor usually emanating from the likes of Lou Pinella [manager of the Chicago Cubs baseball team...if you have seen him get angry at an umpire, that will give you a fairly good picture of what the roadie was looking at].
[It should be noted that one of the longer ovations of the evening was for 'Mother Russia'. With the passing of the man who this was written about, even in this day and age the song now takes on a new significance]
The encores were just as special due to two great reasons. One line in the song 'America' got the crowd going...this being the one featuring that infamous portion of Interstate 95 - The New JerseyTurnpike. And then there was 'Ashes are Burning'. Rock, jazz, funk, classical all mixed in. And if this was the last hurrah for the famous, seldom imitated never to be duplicated Jon Camp bass solo, this was one hell of a sendoff.
If anyone says to you that progressive rock bands are dull or for that matter lack a certain fire or a certain amount of energy, give that person a copy of this concert and let them hear for themselves what this music really is. That in the hands of those who have mastered the form [I would also include the Moody Blues and Yes in this class as well] it has that fire, that bravado and with Annie's voice was raised to a higher level.