LIVE: Renaissance @ The Egg, 10/13/09

Whoa, dude…
Did you hear what I heard?
Was that a prog-rock concert without a single guitar solo?
And no drum solo, either?
Is that legal?
Don’t you get kicked out of the Prog-Rock Union No. 518 for something like that?

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The latest incarnation of the veteran prog band Renaissance rolled into The Egg in Albany for a sold-out show on Tuesday night, and they did just that. No guitar solos. No drum solos. And, in fact, even the dual keyboardists kept their self-indulgences in check with mercifully short solos.

You can read my review in the Times Union.

With Annie Haslam at the microphone (can there really be a Renaissance without her?) and guitarist Michael Dunford by her side, the band wove their way through a selection of 10 songs from their catalog, stretching back as far as the title track of 1972’s “Prologue.”

NOTE: Although the current Renaissance tour is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band, neither Haslam nor Dunford were there at the start. Dunford climbed aboard in 1970, followed by Haslam in 1971.

The 62-year-old Haslam was in fine voice throughout most of the 95-minute performance, although she did go a bit “pitchy” at times during “Running Hard” and the encore, “Ashes Are Burning.” She also seemed a bit unfocused, distracted by an audience member in the front row who she seemed convinced was surreptitiously taping the performance.

For the most part, though, she nailed it, and the rest of the band – keyboardist-musical director Rave Tesar, bassist-vocalist David Keyes, keyboardist Tom Brislin and drummer Frank Pagano – navigated the complex time-signature shifts with aplomb.

On the more straight-ahead pop-like numbers such as “Carpet of the Sun,” the band slid into the Heart-meets-Fairport Convention pocket. For the more intricate, progressive selections of the evening – the baroque “Black Flame,” the majestic “Ocean Gypsy” and the sweepingly cinematic “Mother Russia” – the current edition of Renaissance brought to mind an early-’70s-era Judy Collins fronting a more acoustic-oriented Yes.

German-born, now NYC-based singer-songwriter Jann Klose offered a short, solo opening set to kick off the evening. With of a big, open-throated voice that slid effortlessly into an unfaltering falsetto, Klose showcased songs from his latest album, “Reverie.” And while the songs were solid – especially the entrancing “Doing Time” – in the end, it was all about his magnificent voice.

Carpet of the Sun
Midas Man
Running Hard
Black Flame
Northern Lights
Ocean Gypsy
Things I Don’t Understand
Mother Russia
Ashes Are Burning

Beautiful Dream
Doing Time
Remember Your Name
Give in to This Life
Watching You Go

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