Renaissance - In The Land Of The Rising Sun - Live In Japan 2001

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Giant Electric Pea
Catalog Number: GEPCD 1032
Format: CD
Total Time: 104:54:00

Crystal clear. I'm convinced the word has been invented solely in order to describe the voice of Annie Haslam. If ever there was a voice who could match this description best it is the voice of Annie. Should I say "is" the voice or "was" the voice because to be honest a long period of time has elapsed since the band's debut many, many years ago.

Hot on the heels of a brand new studio album called Tuscany it looks like the friendship with Michael Dunford is as strong as it ever was, whilst the companionship with Terence Sullivan and Mickey Simmonds can be heard throughout the new and old material. Recorded on just one day (as opposed to three days from which the previous live collection Live At Carnegie Hall was pulled), of course Annie needs some time before her vocal chords are fully lubricated, before it sounds like no time has passed. With Mickey Simmonds taking care of the orchestral arrangements, luckily the wonderful material from days gone by still sounds as fresh and exciting as if they were recorded yesterday. Opening with the favourite "Carpet Of The Sun" it's ideal for Annie to settle her voice as it's backed by good clean drumming suporting her all the way. During the opening section for "Opening Out" there's a little hesitation in the "naked" passages, but due to the power of the melody, all is soon forgotten as the Haslam trademark sets in fairly quickly. "Midas Man" from their Novella album for the first time offers some wonderful harmonies whilst piano and tubular bells accompany the hard sounding bass.

Addressing the audience with the word "arigato" is like unlocking a treasure chest with a golden key. It also marks a section in the concert where the then newly released studio album is being promoted by means of three consecutive tracks. The pure Haslam voice fills the intro for "Lady From Tuscany" where Simmonds tries to evoke the sound of violin on his synth yet it would have been marvelous to have the real instrument available! Piano and acoustic percussion form the main ingredients for "Pearls Of Wisdom" yet one can hear how much more bombastic this song could sound if a real orchestra would be at hand. "Dear Landseer" is built around a strange melody, not an easy song to digest when you hear it for the very first time so I ask myself why they picked this one to promote the Tuscany album? Maybe it's because of the high pitched vocal solo Annie delivers? Then the band goes back in time with their British top ten hit "Northern Lights" sporting the great immortal trumpet parts on synth. Also the flute is a synth and slightly introduces a medieval feel to what is undoubtedly a rock classic. Then a solo spot for Annie is introduced kicking off with the Mike Oldfield cover "Moonlight Shadow" which can be found on Annie's solo album from 1989 as produced by the legendary Larry Fast. The first disc closes with "Precious One" and "Ananda" two songs from Annie's solo album The Dawn Of Ananda.

Disc two will please the fans more as the material here mainly consists of longer tracks such as "Mother Russia." Again it's difficult to place this live rendition against the live take on Live At Carnegie Hall because the latter contains the New York Philharmonic adding a sound no samples can match. Almost pure classical piano forms an integral part of "Trip To The Fair," one of my all-time favourites. The sound of the bass is nicely mixed within the arrangement complementing piano and choir before the music takes a trip through jazz-land. Although I don't have the actual setlist as performed that particular night it sounds as if the "normal" setlist ended with "One Thousand Roses," yet another new song from their Tuscany album. As kind of an encore, the acoustic "I Think Of You" from the Turn Of The Cards album is performed but everyone is waiting for the final epic which is delivered by means of "Ashes Are Burning." Here, for the first time on the album, Annie's voice is back the way it should be: high, sharp, crisp and above all entertaining and storytelling. In certain sections she sounds like a siren emerging from the Renaissance seas. Certainly the superb bass solo is an interesting part of the song as well. Just like everyone is waiting for that ultimate cry when Joe Cocker performs "With A Little Help From My Friends" so are we waiting for that extremely high note of Annie at around the fifteen minute mark. It's there alright, yet not as convincing as it used to be. The music however builds and builds like a true classical concerto with the piano as a focal point.

In The Land Of The Rising Sun is a statement of one particular night in the life of Renaissance. It shows the band as it is right now, as a sixpiece without any orchestra at all. Annie's voice still has that distinctive quality yet it lacks the youth and sparkle which was so typical during the band's heydays. So if I'd have to chose a live album I'd go for Live At Carnegie Hall any day.

Recorded live at Koseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, Japan on 16th March 2001

Disc One: Carpet Of The Sun (3:49) / Opening Out (4:24) / Midas Man (6:31) / Lady From Tuscany (7:07) / Pearls Of Wisdom (4:41) / Dear Landseer (5:40) / Northern Lights (4:21) / Moonlight Shadow (4:08) / Precious One (4:48) / Ananda (5:42)

CD Two: Mother Russia (10:31) / Trip To The Fair (11:53) / One Thousand Roses (7:53) / I Think Of You (3:20) / Ashes Are Burning (19:57)

Annie Haslam - vocals
Michael Dunford - acoustic guitars, vocals
Terence Sullivan - drums, percussion
Mickey Simmonds - keyboards, vocals
Rave Tesar - piano and additional keyboards
David Keyes - bass, vocals

Renaissance (1969)
Illusion (1970)
Prologue (1972)
Ashes Are Burning (1973)
Turn Of The Cards (1974)
Scheherazade (1975)
Live At Carnegie Hall (1976)
Novella (1977)
A Song For All Seasons (1978)
Azure D'Or (1979)
Camera Camera (1981)
Time Line (1983)
Tales Of 1000 Nights - Volume 1 (1990)
Tales Of 1000 Nights - Volume 2 (1990)
Blessing In Disguise (1996, Haslam)
The Other Woman (1996, Dunford)
Live At The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Part 1 (rec 1977, rel 1997)
Live At The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Part 2 (rec 1977, rel 1997)
Songs From Renaissance Days (1997)
BBC Sessions (1999)
Day Of The Dreamer (rec. 70s, rel 2000)
Unplugged Live At The Academy Of Music (rec. 1985, rel 2000)
Tuscany (2000/01)
In The Land Of The Rising Sun - Live In Japan 2001 (2002)
Songs For All Seasons (2002)
Mother Russia (2002)
Live + Direct (2002)
Dreams And Omens: Live At The Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA 1978 (2008)

Genre: Progressive Folk

Origin UK

Added: November 3rd 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 759
Language: english


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