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Pendragon: Masquerade 20 (2 CDs or DVD)
Pendragon were one of the first bands that I discovered when I seriously began to get reacquainted with progressive music, a genre I have had deep roots with since the '70s. At the time they kind of reminded me a little of Pink Floyd, okay, maybe a lot but I didn't care and hey, Floyd happens to be my favourite band. Anyways, back to Pendragon. So, I do give Pendragon credit for further shaping my musical tastes and opening up the entire neo prog genre. And no, neo-prog is not a dirty word, at least in my book it isn't. Last year, to commemorate the twenty year anniversary of their landmark album The Masquerade Overture the band gathered at one of their favourite places to play, the Slaski Theater in Katowice, Poland. And play they do putting on a great performance.
The concert begins with the playing of the entire Masquerade Overture album in the original track order. Anyone who is a Pendragon fan knows it is a special album and these songs come to life in a live setting even though the band doesn't offer any drastic changes. After the dramatic symphonics of "The Masquerade Overture" the band kicks it into high gear on the melodic "As Good As Gold" followed by Barrett's incredibly clean guitar and cool slide work in the Floyd influenced "Paintbox". Another great track is "Guardian of My Soul" with wonderful keyboard and guitar interaction with Barrett's solo absolutely stellar. I have always loved his guitar playing and this confirms why. They end the first half of the concert with a couple of tracks originally found on the Masquerade special edition; "King of the Castle" and "Schizo". The former featuring Gee's acoustic twelve string and grandiose keyboards while the latter excels in the vocal department especially those of Christina Booth and Verity Smith. That combined with Barrett's guitar gives the tune a Floydy feel. Great stuff.
The concert's second half has the band delving into some deep album tracks featuring four from their last studio album Men Who Climb Mountains starting with the soaring "Beautiful Soul" that has the band in ultra-tight mode. "Forces Of Light" is another stunner with a riveting and soaring solo from Barrett to go along with Nolan's keyboard drenched symphonic swells. Some slide guitar adds a Pink Floyd atmosphere before ending with beautiful organ and vocals. The band digs deep into their discography next with "Nostradamus" from The Window Of Life album, a melodic feel-good gem of a track that is quintessentially English neo-prog. On "Explorers of the Infinite" Barrett's vocals have a wonderful yearning quality and Nolan's synths and keyboards soar like the wind. Just a beautiful heartfelt performance. Another great track is the somewhat wistful "Come Home Jack" where Barrett's guitar work is clean and crisp with a melancholic tone.
The video quality and filming is very good. There are lots of close-ups of the band members and the various angles ensure some great footage of the band playing their instruments. The concert lighting is nice but not overly dramatic as this is really about the music. The back screen has some interesting visuals as well.
Masquerade 20 is an excellent live release from the band documenting a great album from the past as well as newer songs and a few other old favourites. Highly recommended!
*Masquerade 20 also comes as a trifold two CD digipack. The DVD and CD track listing is the same.
1. The Masquerade Overture
2. As Good as Gold
4. The Pursuit of Excellence
5. Guardian of my Soul
6. The Shadow
7. Masters of Illusion
8. King of the Castle
10. Beautiful Soul
11. Faces of Light
13. Explorers of the Infinite
14. Come Home Jack
15. This Green and Pleasant Land
16. Breaking the Spell
• Interview with Peter Gee and Jan-Vincent Velazco
• In Bardo in Sri Lanka
• Photo Gallery
• Desktop Images
Added: October 12th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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