Sunday, 6 May 2018

Renaissance "Dreams And Omens" 2008 (Recorded in 1978) UK Symphonic Prog


Renaissance  "Dreams And Omens" 2008 (Recorded in 1978) UK Symphonic Prog
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For sure it’s difficult to evaluate an important live concert like the present one (dated 1978), where the monophonic mix, as well as their first turning point of their career (culminating into the disappointing “Azure D'or” ), seem to make us express a controversial opinion about it! 
Don’t get me wrong, Annie’s voice is clear as usual and in general the sound of the best ensemble of Renaissance as well; but here the mix of the bass guitar is bad (perhaps can you hear it?), being almost missing and- moreover- They have not included any symphonic track from “Turn of the cards” (with the exception of “Things I Don’t Understand”), “Scheherazade” and also the majority of “A Song for All Seasons”…well this is the point, this latter album issued on the same period, was a perfect balance between the commercial ballads such as “Northern Lights” and the symphonic suite of the title track, of which there’s no trace in the present live act . You can find the main songs from “Novella”, played in a remarkable manner as usual, but their attempt to achieve a wider audience is clearly evident when you listen to “Northern Lights” (otherwise already used for a tv-series in the UK), an hit single in that period, where their new mood began to grow…Unfortunately their best folk-symphonic period ended after the issue of “Novella” (dated 1977) and here (despite of their good execution concerning “Day of the Dreamer”, the second track inside “A Song for All…”), their stuff is not enough to know the best Renaissance" (otherwise is a very short audio cd- 47 minutes long, which is not completely representative of the band) and at the end you lose the acoustic guitar a bit and the bass guitar too much…nevermind, cause the duo represented by John Tout at the keyboards and Annie Haslam with her magic fascination and her clear voice, makes this “Dreams & Omens” worth checking out at least!! 

Perhaps, by means of a great sound engineer like for instance Terry Brown, the final output as well as the quality of the recording should be completely different…but such defect cannot erase the grandeur of a legendary band, which became a controversial group only in the late seventies/early eighties!!…by lor68 ….~


There are several very distinct periods of Renaissance history – of which the most exciting may well be the time surrounding their best album, A Song for All Seasons, It is the album – along with Azure d'Or and Novella – that almost broke them as pop stars and was filled with some of the most interesting (in their prog rock roots) songs they had yet written. This live album is from the tour accompanying the Song for All Seasons tour – and, as such, it could be argued that it is Renaissance at the peak of their powers. Even more so than Live at Carnegie Hall or the welcomed reunion concert, In the Land of the Rising Sun, Dreams & Omens captures Renaissance as one tight pop band. They almost play like a cross between the Alan Parsons Project and late-era ABBA (as in The Visitors-era ABBA!). Never mind that there are only six songs and that some of them top out at over ten minutes. This is great pop music played by professionals at the top of their game. To hear the two included numbers from Song for All Seasons is the absolute highlight – their mini-single, “Northern Lights,” and – especially – the epic “Day of the Dreamer.” One only wishes that the band or the label had seen fit to reissue this concert in its entirety, in order to hear more of the gems that don’t often come across the usual Renaissance live albums and compilations. This is the sound of a band hitting its creative peak and understanding how to reconcile ten-minute epics with three-minute pop songs with astonishing results in both arenas. And you can only listen and marvel as they do it so effortlessly. Hands down, this is Renaissance’s best live release. Its only flaw is in its brevity. Essential for fans…. by Tomas Mureika ….~


(13 November 2008) There have been several live Renaissance releases in recent years which have all been warmly received by fans worldwide. Dreams and Omens - Renaissance Live At The Tower Theatre Philadelphia PA 1978 (Friday Music (USA), 2008) is very special. I have come to the conclusion that the band must have been quite difficult to mix at concerts. Due mainly to the use of acoustic guitar instead of electric and the importance of keyboards and bass guitar to the compositions, if one or more instruments were out, this could spoil the way the band sounded live. This has happened on previous live releases, mainly on radio concerts, but I am delighted to say on this new release the mix is almost perfect giving the listener the next best thing to actually being there. The one exception is that sometimes Jon Camp’s bass could have been a bit louder. 

The band were on fire at this concert and John Tout in particular, comes across very strong, all his keyboard orchestrations are clearly audible and as a result the band sounds fuller and atmospheric. My only other criticisms of this CD is the fading out of the in between song banter which could be such an entertaining and humorous part of a Renaissance show and this is a shame. And why release only part of such a special concert; I’m sure we wouldn’t have minded paying more for a double CD of the complete show. 

“Can You Hear Me?” kicks off the CD and is the best live version I have heard. As I previously mentioned, the keyboards are very prominent adding lots of atmosphere and Annie, as always, is singing brilliantly. The bass and drums and acoustic guitar are all clear, what more could you want? You can really sense the atmosphere as the audience responds vocally just before the final verse kicks in. “Carpet of the Sun” follows and again is a good solid rendition, with John Tout’s simulated strings very prominent. The next epic is “Day of the Dreamer,” which is a tighter version than the one on the CD of the same name, with the band really cooking by now and Terry’s drum fills cutting through. The usual rearranged live version of Midas Man has some wonderful vocals from Annie. A great version of “Northern Lights” follows which I think is the first time a classic line up live version has been released. 

The final track on this CD is a surprise. I was lucky enough to see the band six times in the 70s and I don’t recall them ever playing this song, so to discover that “Things I Don’t Understand” was on the CD was fantastic. There are a couple of changes to the original arrangement here. Firstly someone–not Terry who is playing drum kit–is playing the Tympani roll on the intro. I’m fairly sure it is Jon Camp as the bass guitar drops out until later in the intro section. Also there is backing vocals on Annie’s first voice solo and the male vocals after it are missing. There follows a driving bass riff with a short piano solo, before the song returns to the original arrangement. 

This is a great live CD. Recorded from a live radio broadcast, it’s not perfect, but it features some fantastic playing and a great choice of songs. The first ever official Renaissance DVD is due out shortly, so that is an exciting prospect to look forward to. Right at the end of 2008, it’s proving to be a great year for Renaissance releases.–Dave Owen, Near Truro, England …..~


‘Live’ at the Tower Theatre, Philadelphia PA 1978.

Credits 
Bass, Vocals – Jon Camp 
Drums, Vocals – Terence Sullivan* 
Guitar, Vocals, Producer – Michael Dunford 
Keyboards – John Tout 
Lead Vocals, Producer – Annie Haslam






Tracklist 
1 Can You Hear Me 14:32 
2 Carpet Of The Sun 3:52 
3 Day Of The Dreamer 10:32 
4 Midas Man 4:22 
5 Northern Lights 4:19 
6 Things I Don’t Understand 9:35

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