I am simply thrilled to post that Fran and Rhiannon and I have recently purchased our tickets to see Renaissance (the legendary 1970s-era classical rock band, which re-formed in 2010) in its first concert in Atlanta in about 30 years! They will be at Variety Playhouse on October 4 — the Feast of Saint Francis. Not that there is anything particularly Franciscan about them (although we do know that Annie Haslam, the lead vocalist, is quite an animal lover). It’s a serendipitous day, but frankly, I’d be happy to see Renaissance any day of the year.
If you aren’t familiar with Renaissance — well, you have a treat in store. Although they get lumped together with other prog-rock bands from the ’70s like Yes and Genesis, their sound is lighter, more symphonic, and more melodic than the other prog bands. The heart of Renaissance’s sound is Annie Haslam’s crystalline five-octave soprano; when she isn’t singing the band’s mystical and at times brooding lyrics (many written by poet Betty Thatcher), she often lends vocalise to the extended instrumental performances. Their most well known songs, “Carpet of the Sun” and “Northern Lights,” have almost a folk-rock feel to them. But on their epic numbers — “Mother Russia,” “Ashes Are Burning,” “The Song of Scheherazade,” “Touching Once is So Hard to Keep,” among many others — Annie’s soaring voice dances with the uptempo, keyboard-rich music to create a lush and textured journey in sound.
I suppose you can tell I’m a fan.
I had the privilege of working with Annie to help promote her solo album The Dawn of Ananda, back in 2000 when I was managing the music department of the New Leaf Distributing Company. I interviewed Annie for New Leaf’s journal, and I have the interview posted here on my blog: Return of an Angel. We’ve stayed in touch over the years, and every time Renaissance would re-group (as they periodically do), I would beg for a gig in Atlanta. No luck… until this year.
My dear readers, if you live anywhere near Atlanta, please come to the concert on October 4! Click here to buy your tickets. I want the show to be such a success that Renaissance will make Atlanta a stop on every tour they do from now on. And if you don’t live near Atlanta: the fall tour also includes stops in Washington DC, Florida, Montreal, New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. There is another leg of the tour planned for 2013 as well. For more details on the tour, click here. So go see Renaissance this fall! And if you’re at the Atlanta show, let me know — my family and I will be there, so just look for the excited girl in a wheelchair with her happy folks, that will be us.
If you need more of an introduction to Renaissance, here is a video with snippets from a DVD they produced during their 2011 tour:
The DVD features a concert from their 2011 tour, and consists of two of their classic albums —Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade and Other Stories — performed in their entirety. If you’d like to buy the DVD, here’s the link: Renaissance Live in Concert 2011.
And if you need any more convincing, I recommend acquiring one or more of Renaissance’s classic studio recordings from the 1970s: Prologue, Ashes Are Burning, Turn of the Cards, Scheherazade and Other Stories, Novella, and A Song for All Seasons. For that matter, their reunion album from the late 1990s, Tuscany, also belongs in your collection. Three of these classic albums (Turn of the Cards, Scheherazade, and Novella), along with other songs from their repertoire and new material, will be in rotation on the band’s tour this fall — visit the band’s tour page to see what music will be played at each stop on the tour. The Atlanta show will include Scheherazade and Other Stories performed in its entirety. That’s a treat, for that album features “The Song of Scheherazade,” a 25-minute-long epic about the 1001 Nights. It should be a splendid evening. You don’t want to miss it.
One final bit of good news for Renaissance fans: A new album called Grandine Il Vento is due out next year.