Pendragon is an incredible collection of some of the best progressive musicians of the era. Keyboardist Clive Nolan, Drummer Fudge Smith and Bass player Peter Gee all have other commitments and prog interests outside this band. When they all come together to play Guitarist/Vocalist Nick Barrett’s songs, it’s like an all-star super-group.
The Masquerade Overture all begins so serious and regal with the title song. A choir of beauty comes forth to introduce the record in a way that sets the tone for what is to come. Although having seen the band live, I know that “serious and regal” is not the best way to describe them. Barrett is such a natural showman, with a wonderful sense of humor. He is also an incomparable guitarist, playing lead with flourish and fluidity similar to Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour or Camel’s Andy Latimer.
Classics of Pendragon’s vast catalog are included on this album. “Paintbox” is always a crowd pleaser. “Guardian of My Soul” is a personal favorite with an intro that features incredible bass against guitar picking, along with a syncopating keyboard sequence as the song progresses. I also like the way “Masters of Illusion” takes a straight beat about halfway in and lays down an interesting guitar piece. Any of the songs off The Masquerade Overture would be a joy to listen to however.
I have such a soft spot for Masquerade Overture. I believe it is one of the premier examples of what we all call Neo-Prog, along with Collage’s Moonshine (1994), Marillion’s Clutching at Straws (1987) and Illuvatar’s 1999 masterpiece A Story Two Days Wide. Any of these four could top my list of favorite Neo-Prog recordings. It would just depend on what day it was for me. Highly recommended for fans of Neo-Prog who for some reason do not already own it.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 25th, 2011