Engineer, producer, guitarist, songwriter, programmer, keyboard player, vocalist… is there no role within the music industry that Alan Parsons cannot turn his hand to? His impressive CV has seen him work with the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Steven Wilson, Cockney Rebel and Al Stewart as well as releasing five solo studio albums on top of the twelve under the Alan Parsons Project banner. Having rarely played live during his 70’s/80’s heyday when in 2003 he took to the road on a more regular basis his fans were more than ready to lap it up. With his latest studio album, The Secret (2019) receiving wide critical praise Parsons headed out once more in February 2019 for “The Secrets Tour” billed as The Alan Parsons Live Project. It was on this tour that Parsons crack team of musicians took to the stage of the Tivoli in Utrecht to perform the show captured on The NeverEnding Show – Live In The Netherlands.
So, has that lack of early road miles effected Parson’s ability to perform on the highly competitive 21st century concert stage? Certainly not! If there was such a thing as an Alan Parsons “hit” this album would be called “Greatest Hits – Live”. He uses all his arrangement skills to put together a set filled with as highlights from The Project era as a foundation to seamlessly spotlight gems from his latest album. ‘One Note Symphony’ is the perfect way to introduce The Secrets album as well as being a worthy opener in the live setting. Apart from two additional newer tracks, ‘As Lights Fall’ with its Travelling Wilbury’s feel and ‘I Can’t Get There From Here’ featuring (future son-in-law) Jordan Asher Huffman on guest vocals the balance of the evening’s entertainment is made up of tracks from that 70’s through 80’s purple patch. Only one album is absent from each of these decades (1978’s Pyramid and 1984’s Vulture Culture) making this a truly all-encompassing collection. As well as spanning this highly productive eleven year period for the APP the set list crosses the musical ravine which this talented band strode taking in aspects of progressive rock (‘Time’ from The Turn Of A Friendly Card), pop (‘Don’t Let It Show’ from iRobot… covered by Pat Benetar on her In The Heat Of The Night album) and melodic adult rock (‘Limelight’ from Stereotomy) as well as hints of folk, jazz fusion and out and out rockers such as ‘Standing On Higher Ground’ from the Gaudi album. Two instrumental tracks provide the evidence that the current “Live Project” line-up has buckets of talent to match any previous incarnation that the maestro may have taken under his wing. Both Eve’s ‘Luciferama’ and iRobot’s title track showcase the depth of ability within the line-up of Todd Cooper (sax/ recorder/guitar) who shines bright on ‘Don’t Answer Me’ and the outro of ‘Old And Wise’, the star of ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You’ Jeff Kollman (guitar), Tom Brooks (keys), Dan Tracey (guitar), Guy Erez (bass) and Danny Thompson (drums) along with longest standing member P.J Olsson (vocals/guitar) who has worked with Parsons since 2004. Each member also contributes to the lush vocal sound throughout the performances. With the quality of writing and musical performance across this set it’s almost impossible to pick out a highlight but if pushed I would have to select the ‘Sirius/Eye In The Sky’ medley for the way following the band introductions it blends the progressive instrumentation with the more mainstream ‘Eye In The Sky’ section and also to close the live set with another The Turn Of A Friendly Card classic ‘Games People Play’, which is an absolute master-stroke. What a way to exit the stage. The CD is capped off by a bonus of a new recording and latest single ‘The Never Ending Show’ which gives us just a hint of the new album due for release in 2022. A tantalising little teaser it is too.
With touring plans postponed at present only time will tell when The Secrets Tour will be completed but judging from the performances here it will be well worth catching Parsons should the tour pass by your hometown and also proves that he is more than worthy of sitting amongst the live nostalgic heavy hitters of the 21st century; the Hacketts, Hillages/Gongs and Hawkwinds of the current touring roster. Available via Frontiers Music SRL (the label which has been his home since Eye 2 Eye-Live In Madrid in 2010) on 2CD + DVD, Blu-ray or triple vinyl (including limited coloured options) it is one of those live releases which makes you want to go back and re-visit an incredible artists entire back catalogue.
- Reviewed By Peter Brockwell
- The NeverEnding Story – Live In The Netherlands is released via Frontiers Music Srl on 5th November 2021
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1.One Note Symphony
2.Damned If I Do
3.Don’t Answer Me
5.Breakdown + The Raven (Medley)
6.I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You
1. Don’t Let It Show
2. I Robot
4. Standing On Higher Ground
5. As Lights Fall
6. I Can’t Get There From Here
7. Prime Time
8. Sirius + Eye In The Sky (Medley)
9. Old And Wise
10.(The System Of) Dr. Tarr And Professor Fether
11.Games People Play
12.The Never Ending Show (New Studio Audio Track)