1. What motivated the band to make this DVD at this time?
I must state before writing the review that I have been a fan of the band for about five years. I have most of their albums, but only one of their DVDs.
Last year the band was celebrating their 30th anniversary during the tour which was used for this DVD. They also wanted to showcase their new drummer and some songs off their latest album Pure.
It must have been a difficult choice to try to capture the moment of the 30th anniversary while at the same time capture the power of a new album release. So many old fans want to hear the classics, while a new building fan base want the new stuff..
The band is going to play the full Pure album live in the near future, and perhaps they will film the show to try to capture what their fans and the band feel is their best effort yet. With a title like Concerto Maximo, you are setting the bar high as the best you have ever done.
What features make this DVD stand out amongst their other DVDs?
There was a heavy concentration of time and effort on the visual image and artwork for the new Pure album and this DVD. The Pure images dominate this DVD, pointing to the inner struggle to create something for that album, while at the same time showcase some of their classics.
I also have their last DVD, released in October 2006, And Now Everybody to the Stage…, and I was surprised when Pendragon announced that they would be releasing a new DVD so soon.
The theater is the same one they used for the last DVD. Nick and the band are a little older, but the music sounds the same. Top notch and good quality. When I bought the And Now Everybody…, (ANETTS), DVD, I was just a fan, not a reviewer. The band’s performance and the music were all I cared about. Now as a reviewer band/audience interaction becomes more important. I listened to the interview before previewing the concert and was surprised the interviewer kept asking members of the band how many times they had filmed at the theater.
From a fan’s perspective, especially someone who hasn’t seen a live Pendragon show, I was looking forward to being completely part of the feeling and power of a live Pendragon show.
One cost/benefit analysis of doing a scheduled DVD shoot at a theater that is not part of the regular tour is that you may not get enough true diehard fans. The benefit is that you save money, making sure everything is set up the way you want it at reduced cost, with friends you have worked with in the past. When music is not your full time job saving money is very important.
However, when you are making your Concerto Maximo and celebrating over 30 years of success, money should be no object. If it is really is your best, choose a site that is important to you and your 30 year history, full of your favorite fans. The fans in this video needed more inspiration, either from the band or maybe to be told this was going to be the Concerto Maximo and to cheer loudly. It would have been nice to see how Pendragon’s traditional fans from England would respond to the old and new songs. When you’re planning the Concerto Maximo why not make it into a celebration for all of those fans who may have given Pendragon the most support over the years?
However, the band must make sure the audience is involved with what the band is doing. You could see some of this during the Pure songs and when the band really started to interact, at the end of the show during Queen of Hearts. Just in time to end the video.
One thing that I’m sure did not help was the comparison of “doing time”, during the band introductions. If you are celebrating 30 years of having fun delivering great music to the world, it doesn’t help to compare it to doing time in jail. Even just to be humorous. There was a definite feeling throughout this show that the band seemed to be going through the motions. Sometimes that feeling is hard to shake and comes out in words, when you least expect it.
Often times Nick closes his eyes during the performance. There are many ways to perceive this as a fan or audience member. The artist is getting into the grove or that you have been playing the same stuff for so long that you don’t even need to think about it anymore.
What are the highlights of this DVD musically?
My favorite Pendragon song is Wishing Well. I was looking forward to comparing the version of this song off this DVD with the one made on And Now Everybody…
I actually like the power and care with which the band showed on And Now Everybody’s version. The song was newer and more interesting to the band at that show than at this one..
By far the new songs Freakshow, Eraserhead and It’s Only Me were the highlights off this DVD. There is such a vast difference between the music off Pure and Believe and their earlier works.
The older songs hold magic but you can tell the band is much more into the new music from their performance. Other than Queen of Hearts, Total Recall, and two acoustic songs off the second DVD, King of the Castle and We’ll Go Hunting Deer, the rest of the show seemed to be the band going through the motions just to get to the new songs.
The band has invested allot of time and effort into the new album Pure and the new sound and direction it signals for the band. You could see their excitement change measurably when they played the Pure music.
This DVD was also a showcase for their new drummer Scott Higham. Scott was at times the only member who played with consistent inspiration. He seemed to be genuinely glad to be there and often times tried to pick up the level of the audience participation.
What are the highlights of this DVD visually?
The new songs, Eraserhead, Freakshow and It’s Only Me were by far the highlights. The band showed the most excitement on stage for these songs. The older material seemed to get in the way of these tracks at times. The performance of Total Recall, which followed Eraserhead, was almost blotted out by the blue light. There was allot of use of blue light, to the point that it washed out parts of the performance.
Scott’s performance on Freakshow was very good as expected. His drumming really makes that song come alive. Scott is featured allot more on this video than former drummer Joe Crabtree was on And Everybody… In fact looking back, there is no light on Joe Crabtree, on some of the songs.
2. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
This DVD celebrates a historical record of the band’s transition from the past to the present. Although it celebrates the past, it does so in a venue without its closest and dearest fans.
3. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Although the packaging is different, the performance of the music from this Concerto Maximo, is no different than their last DVD, other than the change of songs.
When Nick Barrett first announced the name and that the DVD was coming he said, “well I've been kicking around a few ideas, the new DVD will be called "Concerto Maximo", cos I really didn't wanna call it Pendragon-Live-In Katowice, Pendragon-On-The Road...or any of these other crud names that bands come up with for live things.” The only problem with calling something the best thing you have ever done is it sets the bar high. If this is the best, I have seen it and do not need to see the live show. If this is the best interaction you can get with Pendragon as a fan, then I’ll comfortably wait for the next CD and decide whether or not it is time to move on down the line.
Reviewed by Prof on May 23rd, 2009