This is a homely, happy, hopeful return from a band who made stirring music and can make us smile even now.
What a lovely setting for the return of such a gentle, esoteric, Folk, Progressive band. Off the back of a European tour and with some fairly new members, this DVD, housed confusingly in a CD digi-pack, is in sumptuous surroundings for such gorgeous music, all Gothic stones and deep wood, with a light show of blues, greens and purples adding to the warmth the crowd clearly, though genteelly, show.
The band mainstays are older of course, which is more of an issue for one person. Anne Haslam. When she joined Renaissance, her almost Operatic range added more depth and oddness that marked them out as purveyors of a different music, something that could really take you on a journey. But now it is many years since they last did this, will it be serviceable? Will it actually delight? Oh yes, sharp and a little wavery she may be on occasion, but those pipes are all there, particularly on opener 'Prologue', when she soars majestically but with a charmingly unassuming quality.
You won't get any Freddie Mercury theatrics here, the most Rock and Roll they get is Rave Tesar, hunched over his keys and sporting shades, a thing of wonder when duelling with Tom Brislin on 'Ocean Gypsy' – the playing is what this crowd have come to see, delivered with real warmth and beautiful but laidback precision.
The sound is just pristine (Tesar again), the cuts are languorous and understated; the feel is of old friends meeting for a jam. Warmth is clear, happiness is apparent. 'Ashes Are Burning' is almost as gorgeous as we know it can be, with a charming lazy Rock groove and a stunning bass solo from Leo Traversa, in fact as this is the closer, they all have a go, showing more chops than a lumberjack on speed. 'The Mystic And The Muse' and 'Mother Russia' are so dramatic and, of course, 'Northern Lights' is a delight, taking us back to a simpler time.
Not overburdened with forty-eight prime Renaissance cuts, with only ten on offer and the only extra being a simple interview, this is a homely, happy, hopeful return from a band who made stirring music and can make us smile even now. It made me reappraise them and I'm glad I did; make room for this and it will warm those cockles.