1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“During their recent European tour, Shadowland also visited Poland. They played at the famous Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice during the first edition of the progressive rock festival “ProgRock 2009”. The band’s performance was recorded and will be released on the "Edge of Night" DVD” (http://www.myspace.com/shadowlanduk, 2009).
“The DVD features almost 2 hours of footage, presenting songs from Shadowland's classic albums "Ring of Roses", "Through the Looking Glass", and "Mad as a Hatter", performed by the elite of the scene: Clive Nolan, Mike Varty, Karl Groom, Mark Westwood and Nick Harradence. Also includes an interview with Clive Nolan and Karl Groom, a Documentary “Shadowland Live in Holland 2009”, a photo gallery, Desktop images, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and more!” (http://www.myspace.com/shadowlanduk, 2009).
“The "Edge of Night" will be available in 3 different formats: DVD, limited DVD+2CD edition, including 2 bonus audio CDs with songs recorded during the gig at the theatre, and 2CD digipak (limited to 1000 copies)” (http://www.myspace.com/shadowlanduk, 2009).
2. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
Enjoyed the nice acoustic opening with Westwood and Clive on stage. Clive has a good stage presence with minimal light and the lone support of acoustic guitar. Nice start. But then the churn begins.
Tales of a lifetime of dreams and nightmares. From strange dreams come strange lyrics.
Maybe they had a dream they were members of Marillion during the Fish era. Many of the lyrics are taken from references to Script for a Jester’s Tear, Fugazi, the book/movie A Picture of Dorian Gray, (including Clive actually bringing a picture of himself, that looked similar to the image of Dorian Gray, onstage), or the many horror films Clive mentions later in the video. There are several references in the songs to chameleons, jigsaws, and too many more to mention. One of the most memorable lyrics is “Don’t try to recapture old memories…before memories crumble into dust.”
Good point. Wish they had taken their own advice.
However in fairness, this is their first live video in thirteen years so much of the material is classic fan favorites. I have actually never heard any of their albums until hearing them live on this video. Much of their catalog was taken out of distribution or not available in the USA during their thirteen year hiatus. I had an interest in the music based on some of the other bands with which the members share time.
The filming is actually pretty good compared to some of the other videos I have watched from this venue and the Neo Prog genre in general. This is a favorite filming location that I guess all bands in the genre must frequent. The fans react as if they are given free passes to attend and rarely if ever respond the way a real fan base would during a concert.
But you can tell this band was glad to be together again performing in front of an audience. They had allot of energy throughout the show. They had definitely been rehearsing and rarely if ever missed a beat. So the performance was good. Clive has a very dramatic way of singing and drawing the audience into the song even if after a while they all begin to sound the same. The cliché launching guitar riff. The running keyboards and synths, the dark ‘we have no control over our future and are powerless to change anything’ lyrics, etc...
“This story never ends…” Thankfully though…there was a thirteen year hiatus. “Nothing left to say” Yep…that’s the message. Blast ‘em with some keys and then some more launching guitar solos. “Cling to these words…” Come on…which words? Oh yeah these…“Pawns in a jigsaw puzzle.” The common theme. We are powerless to change our lives. Blame the USA or someone else for everything. The United States of Insanity. Yep…that is a sure way get an invite to tour here every time.
Not even a peep from the audience at the end of the song for support. Despite the anti – American fervor that abounds in Eastern Europe.
Another ramble down the path of NeoProg cliché. “Dance on the edge of the night.” “Don’t ever stray from the path…” Yep…keep making the same thing over and over. “Can you remember all the flavors of your nightmares?” Who in the world would want to? Then they mercifully start an instrumental blast saving us from more lyrical clichés. “These are some of my favorite things”, borrowing a line from the classic ‘Sound of Music’ to really make it sound creepy. No wonder they were able to take thirteen years off without many people noticing.
“Man in a mask with far too much to hide”, yes the familiar Neo Prog cliché’s. Yes “follow me”, straight out of Marillion’s songbook. They are doing that…almost to the letter.
3. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre?
Absolutely not! I am finally seeing why these bands have a tough time generating attention in America or getting sponsors for tours this side of the Atlantic. American fans expect allot more real progression from the bands they follow.
Though this was mostly old material, the reaction of the audience showed it wasn’t greatly missed. American audiences demand more from music. They welcome all kinds of sounds and this music just sounds incredibly repetitive.
Most of the bands in the Neo Prog genre have members who rotate between bands frequently, but the sound pretty much stays the same.
What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
There is just so much going on in the world to write about that it is hard to think that these bands want to go back to the past. Many of these members participate in a tour called the Script for a Jester’s Tour which is a tribute to the Fish era of Marillion and one of Marillion’s most successful albums, Script for a Jester’s Tears. It’s obvious that Shadowland and many of the bands in Neo Prog really miss this era and are trying desperately to hold on to the sound and lyrics from that era as long as fans will pay to see it again...and again…and again…
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
I guess that depends on whether or not they continue to tour or record in the future. This is a good chronicle of their archived material and they have a compilation box set coming out this year, so who knows.
All I can say is that I’m hoping off the train before it gets going again. I have the early Fish/Marillion collection and don’t need any of this to remember it. And as for listening to someone else’s nightmares set to music…well…let’s just say there is enough tragedy in the world without more added to the mix…
Rating: 5/10 – The performance is good, but the music and I am tired. I’ve heard something very similar before. Hope they read this and make some changes…but I doubt it…
Reviewed by Prof on October 31st, 2009