It snowed all day in the Philadelphia, PA region on Saturday, which in itself is nice if you like snow, but when you have drive in it to get to a show in town, it means something else!
I use I-95 to get into Philadelphia, and I had to summon some of Annie's angels to get around the snow plow train that had the northbound side of the artery tied up for miles! But get around it I did, at the expense of missing opening act Bar Scott.
Annie and her great band walked onto the stage around 9:00pm while the orchestral version of "Prologue" [ed note. from Renaissance Live At the Royal Albert Hall Part 1 released in the USA on 11 February 1997 on King Biscuit Flower Hour Records] played in the background.
The band jumped right into "Carpet Of The Sun", Annie approached the mike and ... no voice! The mike was off! Annie did a courageous dance while the problem was worked out, and when Dave Biglin, multi-instrumentalist, and comedian extraordinaire chimed in with, "Thank you and goodnight!" we knew it was a special show!
"Pool Of Tears," from Annie's '94 OneWay release Blessing In Disguise was next and it is always a pleasure to hear it. Rave Tesar's keyboard playing was superb on this one, co-written by Annie and Tony Visconti.
An unreleased tune, "Summon The Angels" (thanks, Angels!) which was also featured at Annie's Candlelight Concert in December [ed. note: see review also at this web site by same author], continues to grow on me!
Also, "Sometimes," a new song written by Malcolm McKinny for Annie's forthcoming project with Steve Howe of Yes, has gained strength in a live setting, with Rave, David and Joe picking up on the contemplative sound of this wonderful song.
At this point Annie took a moment to talk about her Master Of Ceremonies appointment at the Cat Show at Madison Square Garden on March 2nd, and this segued into another one of drummer Joe Goldberger's astounding backward singing renditions, this time wowing the crowd with a reverse "Northern Lights!" Say it ain't so, Joe!
The next song, "Captive Heart," a Renaissance song from the beautiful 1977 Sire Records release, Novella, took me back in time 20 years to the Academy Of Music in Philadelphia which they played on 20 February 1977! "Captive Heart" was never played live until this year, and it is a welcome rendition!
The next three peices, "Sleepless Mother," "Snowman" and "Trees" were all were performed at Candlelight and Club Bené shows, and I think each sounded a little fuller, more dynamic here, perhaps because the sound and the acoustics at the TLA are so good.
Annie then asked us all to stand (which we all did because we were an obedient audience!) and dance and swirl, while the band played "What He Seeks." Joe gets to really open up to a poly-rhythmic beat and his drumming was excellent, throughout.
"One More Arrow" from her Epic album included Dave Biglin on bass, and reminded Annie of what the EPIC in Epic Records stood for: European Product Ignored by the Company! (also some American acts like Echolyn!)
"The Young Prince and Princess" is the band's Renaissance connection to the album Scheherazade and other Stories, another fine version played in 1997!
The encore was a close copy of "Ashes Are Burning" (Carnegie Hall Version) with Rave, David and Joe playing a stirring instrumental middle section that brought back past moments of musical glory!
Annie's band were probably the best I've ever seen them play, not only because they play some Renaissance chestnuts, but are also great musicians, and create the wonderful sonic backdrop upon which Annie sings. And man, can she still sing!