Renaissance
Live at Carnegie Hall


4.5
superb

Review

by e210013 USER (110 Reviews)
September 13th, 2016 | 50 replies


Release Date: 1976 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is one of the best live albums from a prog rock band in the 70’s. It represents the best postcard to introduce anyone into Renaissance’s music.

“Live At Carnegie Hall” is the debut double live album of Renaissance and was released in 1976. The line up on the album is Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford, John Tout, Jon Camp and Terence Sullivan. The album has also the participation of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir with Tony Cox, the orchestra conductor.


“Live At Carnegie Hall” features songs from all their four studio albums that were attended by the new Renaissance line up, until then, which correspond to their musical golden era, their classic era. The release of this live album was taken from a live show recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1975, which was performed with the backing of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Carnegie Hall is a famous New York theatre better known for its classical performances than for rock concerts. Curiously, or maybe not, this was the local chosen by Renaissance to present this live performance. Sincerely, I’m convinced that this local was purposeful and not by chance, because their sound is so close to the classical music that made a complete sense to play this live show in that place. By the other hand, Renaissance was for some unknown reason always more popular in the United States than in Europe. So, it was quite natural for them to record their classic double live album over there. “Live at Carnegie Hall” proved perfectly that the band could pull off their complex and orchestral compositions and arrangements very well on stage too.

There are few bands that are female fronted, able to play with an orchestra. Renaissance is clearly one of them. Annie Haslam is the obvious starting point with her pure five octave range that she uses so well. When she hits the stratospheric climactic note to the Scheherazade suite, she seems to not only reach it with ease, but hold it in the same way. You could listen to many singers attempting this and wince as they struggle, but Haslam is astoundingly capable of that, very easily. But there is more than Haslam in Renaissance. To the keyboardist John Tout lacks, perhaps, the stage presence of Rick Wakeman, but his playing is a key part of Renaissance’s instrumental sections. He prefers piano with a light dusting of organ and string synthesizer. The acoustic guitarist Michael Dunford is equally retiring. He composes the bulk of the material with the non playing lyricist Betty Thatcher. The bassist Jon Camp is all over the play and often his runs are more like lead than part of the rhythm section. But it’s the interplay with the energetic drummer Terence Sullivan that gives the band such a vibrant energy, and on this live performance they are highly energized.

The tracks chosen to be played on this live set were “Prologue” from “Prologue”, “Can You Understand”, “Carpet On The Sun” and “Ashes Are Burning” from “Ashes Are Burning”, “Running Hard” and “Mother Russia” from “Turn Of The Cards” and “Ocean Gypsy” and “Song Of Scheherazade” from “Scheherazade And Other Stories”. About the live performance of them, the title track from “Prologue” kicks it all off, and is followed by strong versions of “Ocean Gypsy”, “Can You Understand”, “Carpet Of The Sun”, “Running Hard” and “Mother Russia”. All these versions may not add anything that the studio recordings didn’t have, but it’s still great to listen to them, especially in a live setting. The band also talks and comments a lot between the songs, adding a very interesting and familiar magic live atmosphere that far too many live albums lack. These are all tracks which are included on the first record. The second record in the set is taken up by only two tracks. First we have, of course, their great musical suite “Song Of Scheherazade”. What is really very interesting about this track is that the studio album itself was actually still not released when the band played it here. So, you can imagine that the audience must have gotten some quite enormous expectations for it after listen to this track for the first time, that night. But the real highlight of the album is the fantastic 23 minute version of “Ashes Are Burning”. This is undoubtedly one of the best performances the band ever caught on vinyl, and Camp delivers some of the most beautiful bass playing I’ve ever heard from him. It’s probably better than the original version.


Conclusion: “Live At Carnegie Hall” remains as one of the best live albums from a progressive rock band in the 70’s. Despite near of two hours of music, there is virtually nothing superfluous here. It’s hard to find any kind of faults here, too. But with music of this quality, just having this live album available now, it’s good enough for us. This band is unique. This line up with this track list is as good as they ever got, and the orchestra and setting simply spark their best into a brighter flame. This is highly recommended for anyone interested in the field between the folk rock, classical music and symphonic progressive. “Live At Carnegie Hall” is perhaps the best way to describe Renaissance’s music, for those who aren’t familiarized yet with the typical sound of the band. So, this is for me one of the best postcards of the group and subsequently. It’s also one of their best musical workings to introduce anyone into their musical world.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Let's return to more common and known things.

I decided to put this review right now, because I really think this album, this band and the Sputnik readers deserve have a properly review of this great album. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

As usual your comments are always very well received.



smaugman
September 13th 2016


4935 Comments


it's mostly well written, but I suggest you start talking more about the music itself and what's good with it instead of introducing the band and its members etc

e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Maybe you're right, smaugman. But this is a live album, and as I said on my review, almost all the songs are performed similarly of their studio albums. The track which was performed somehow differently was "Ashes Are Burning", which was detached by me. When I review their studio albums I will do that, at time.

Thanks for your comment and pos.

Cheers.

smaugman
September 13th 2016


4935 Comments


yea i guess you're right if the music is pretty similar to the studio versions

wham49
September 13th 2016


4538 Comments


I picked this up this summer along with Novella at a little shop in Wisconsin, havent gotten to it yet, have heard great things though.

what studio album is many of these songs from?

Digging: Grateful Dead - Cornell 5/8/77

e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok, smaugman.

KILL
September 13th 2016


81233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet yes hell yes sweet

wham49
September 13th 2016


4538 Comments


apparently ashes are burning

wham49
September 13th 2016


4538 Comments


apparently ashes are burning

KILL
September 13th 2016


81233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[3]

e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ wham 49

Did you read my review, already? Maybe not. I mentioned that on my review.

I will transcribe what I wrote:

"The tracks chosen to be played on this live set were “Prologue” from “Prologue”, “Can You Understand”, “Carpet On The Sun” and “Ashes Are Burning” from “Ashes Are Burning”, “Running Hard” and “Mother Russia” from “Turn Of The Cards” and “Ocean Gypsy” and “Song Of Scheherazade” from “Scheherazade And Other Stories”."

You can bet this is really a great album. Probably the best introduction to any new listener of the band.

About "Novella", despite be not as good as their classic albums, "Prologue", "Ashes Are Burning", "Turn Of The Cards" and especially "Sheherazade And Other Stories", it's still a great album. We even can say that it's, in a way, the last great album from them.

Cheers.



e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, KILL. I know you're a great fan of Renaissance. With me we are two.

Cheers.



bnelso55
September 13th 2016


1323 Comments


I'm glad you mentioned the special "Ashes are Burning" performance. You're right. It's so great that it may just surpass the original.

e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, bnelso. the live performance of "Ashes Are Burning" is really astonishing. Only this track deserves that we listen to this live album, urgently.

Thanks.

wham49
September 13th 2016


4538 Comments


Thanks, I did go back after I posted trying to use while teaching class, some things get by me

wham49
September 13th 2016


4538 Comments


it seems as though Prologue through Novella are the cream of the crop,

this will jump to the font of the need to get to pile

e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you check those four albums, you have the most important things of Renaissance, Mark II. But you mustn't forget Renaissance. Mark I. Renaissance Mark I has a completely different line up and they are also great. They released only two albums, the two debut albums of Renaissance. But if you are interested you can read my two reviews about both albums, here on Sputnik



wham49
September 13th 2016


4538 Comments


cool thanks

e210013
September 13th 2016


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You're welcome, dude.



Jethro42
September 13th 2016


15642 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Renaissance music is an excellent exercise in blending orchestra with rock, and they're mastering it once again in this double live album. The adding of a full orchestra adds a lush sound, unique atmospheres, and allows more depth. It's surely not a coincidence if they later repeated the experience with Scheherazade and Other Stories where they incorporated the London Symphonic Orchestra.

For Live at Carnegie Hall, musicians play their hearts out, and Annie Haslam is spectacular throughout. We even find some better versions than the originals.

I'm glad to finally see a good review for this album, and I'm not surprised that it's covered by you. Good job mate. Pos'd. And happy 40th review!





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