Renaissance: Live At The Union Chapel

Revived folk-proggers return to the stage.

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Last April Renaissance played their first London show for 15 years, the prog-folk phoenixes defiantly surviving the death of chief songwriter Michael Dunford, and Annie Haslam’s own health issues.

Initially formed from the ashes of The Yardbirds, they’ve always been an acquired taste, with a tendency to swerve into neo-classical movements. Haslam’s helium-high voice remains just this side of shrill.

Captured on film by a director who loves the chapel’s architecture and the colours blue and gold, the evening was a celebration of a career in which their one hit – 1978’s Northern Lights – only confused them as to what they were about.

Now the mainly American line-up sound like Renaissance Redux: newer material is unapologetically grandiose. Fan favourites like Mother Russia and Ashes Are Burning wallow in melodrama and only reach resolution when everyone (including former Yes keyboardist Tom Brislin) has had a solo or two. A robust revival.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.