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Renaissance: Song of Scheherazade Live

Renaissance is a notable 1970s folk rock band that developed a large fan base by having symphonic rock instrumentals contrasted by haunting female vocals and whimsical, intelligent lyrics. Renaissance: Song of Scheherazade Live includes video from the band’s performances at Capital Theatre in 1976 and their 1979 performance at Convention Hall. A great fuss was made when Cherry Red announced their release of Renaissance's concert footage. Between 1976 and 1983, Renaissance was in its prime output stage, so fans were excited by the idea of getting to experience the band’s concert during this pivotal point of development. However, it seems all of the enthusiasm was for naught.

The quality of the DVD itself is questionable and has received a great deal of well deserved criticism for the poor quality of the video. Though black and white footage has the potential to be beautiful in its own way, we get grainy, smoky, and at times completely indiscernible images of the concerts. (The menu is hideous, and is, ironically enough, created from a screen capture of the contained footage.) The camerawork is monotonous and rather random at times. Many of the shots were terribly framed. Random microphones and the movements of another band member obstruct the view of Annie Haslam when she sings or speaks. The majority of the shots consist of a rather unusual close up of the talented female lead, where she spends the great deal of time with her eyes closed.

The condition of the audio on this DVD also suffers. Haslma’s beautiful voice is lost within the background crackling, microphone interference, and temperamental volume. Rather than complement her voice, the audio makes the accompanying instruments sound like a swathe of annoying background noise.

The performance itself is passable if you concentrate on the insider dialogue between Haslam, other band members, and the audience. This is something that is truly priceless from the stance of a Renaissance fan, something you could not obtain anywhere else. However, these snippets of conversation between musical numbers were about the only thing I found even remotely entertaining on this DVD.

Unfortunately, the poor quality interferes with the ability to truly enjoy the works of what is arguably one of the most influential folk rock bands of the twentieth century. Though there must be some sort of legitimate reason why the film could not be better restored, I think it is a disappointment to say the least.

All and all, Renaissance: Song of Scheherazade Live is worth the money if you are an avid collector of the band’s works. If not, I suggest you stay away.

Written by: Jacquelyn White, September 24th 2009

I'm a huge fan of Rennaisance and Annie's voice but this dvd should never have been released. This is just a money grab. Video is bad and Annie's out of key.

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