It has taken many years to come to fruition but Robert John Godfrey's ambition of a fully orchestrated performance by The Enid was finally realised at Birmingham's elegant Symphony Hall. Not only is Symphony Hall one of the finest venues in the country but it is also home to the highly acclaimed City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the perfect choice for an evening that promised "A Night of Power and Romance" from "The Most Majestic Rock Band of All Time". Couples attired in full evening wear rub shoulders with those sporting Alice Cooper and Jethro Tull T-shirts; such is the broad appeal of the collective once dubbed by the late Tommy Vance as "the biggest cult band in Europe".
The five piece band is still led by the resilient Godfrey, for whom The Enid has been the focal point of his life since the early 1970's. Taking to the stage on crutches as he recovers from a recent accident he is joined by original drummer Dave Storey, guitarist / vocalist Max Read and relative newcomers Jason Ducker on guitars and multi-instrumentalist Nic Willes. Godfrey has intimated that he will be handing over the reins to the next generation to continue the journey of The Enid but for now he remains very much at the helm, instructing proceedings throughout. The first half of the show draws from the groups earlier period with the highlights being a dramatic performance of "Fand" from 1977's Aerie Faerie Nonsense and a sublime "The Lovers", both of which draw standing ovations. The CBSO complement the music of The Enid perfectly and is not hard to understand why Godfrey has stated this is how he always envisaged the music being performed.
The second half opens with a reading from the writer Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) of his controversial work "The Mirror of Love" together with some subtle accompaniment from Godfrey. Moore's reading provokes some heckling and murmurs of disquiet; certainly it is very explicit for what was a family audience but then "conformity" has never been part of The Enid's history. However, all is soon forgotten as band and orchestra are joined by an expansive youth choir for a complete presentation of 2010's Journeys End that is simply breathtaking in its execution. A work of epic proportions it seamlessly ebbs and flows between lush orchestrations and bombastic rock melodies. An emotional rendition of Barclay James Harvest's "Mockingbird", a song Godfrey had a major hand in composing, is dedicated to the late Woolly Wolstenholme and is a moving tribute. Finally, after more than two and half hours, the evening closes with The Enid's signature arrangement of "Dambusters March / Land of Hope And Glory" that builds to a fittingly powerful crescendo.
Incomparable, unique and always adventurous, for Robert John Godfrey and The Enid this was an absolute triumph.
Reviewed by Dean Pedley
Images by Rich Ward at www.classicrockphotography.co.uk