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Pendragon: Masquerade 20 (2 CDs or DVD)

Pendragon were one of the first bands that I discovered when I seriously began to get reacquainted with progressive music, a genre I have had deep roots with since the '70s. At the time they kind of reminded me a little of Pink Floyd, okay, maybe a lot but I didn't care and hey, Floyd happens to be my favourite band. Anyways, back to Pendragon. So, I do give Pendragon credit for further shaping my musical tastes and opening up the entire neo prog genre. And no, neo-prog is not a dirty word, at least in my book it isn't. Last year, to commemorate the twenty year anniversary of their landmark album The Masquerade Overture the band gathered at one of their favourite places to play, the Slaski Theater in Katowice, Poland. And play they do putting on a great performance.

The concert begins with the playing of the entire Masquerade Overture album in the original track order. Anyone who is a Pendragon fan knows it is a special album and these songs come to life in a live setting even though the band doesn't offer any drastic changes. After the dramatic symphonics of "The Masquerade Overture" the band kicks it into high gear on the melodic "As Good As Gold" followed by Barrett's incredibly clean guitar and cool slide work in the Floyd influenced "Paintbox". Another great track is "Guardian of My Soul" with wonderful keyboard and guitar interaction with Barrett's solo absolutely stellar. I have always loved his guitar playing and this confirms why. They end the first half of the concert with a couple of tracks originally found on the Masquerade special edition; "King of the Castle" and "Schizo". The former featuring Gee's acoustic twelve string and grandiose keyboards while the latter excels in the vocal department especially those of Christina Booth and Verity Smith. That combined with Barrett's guitar gives the tune a Floydy feel. Great stuff.

The concert's second half has the band delving into some deep album tracks featuring four from their last studio album Men Who Climb Mountains starting with the soaring "Beautiful Soul" that has the band in ultra-tight mode. "Forces Of Light" is another stunner with a riveting and soaring solo from Barrett to go along with Nolan's keyboard drenched symphonic swells. Some slide guitar adds a Pink Floyd atmosphere before ending with beautiful organ and vocals. The band digs deep into their discography next with "Nostradamus" from The Window Of Life album, a melodic feel-good gem of a track that is quintessentially English neo-prog. On "Explorers of the Infinite" Barrett's vocals have a wonderful yearning quality and Nolan's synths and keyboards soar like the wind. Just a beautiful heartfelt performance. Another great track is the somewhat wistful "Come Home Jack" where Barrett's guitar work is clean and crisp with a melancholic tone.

The video quality and filming is very good. There are lots of close-ups of the band members and the various angles ensure some great footage of the band playing their instruments. The concert lighting is nice but not overly dramatic as this is really about the music. The back screen has some interesting visuals as well.

Masquerade 20 is an excellent live release from the band documenting a great album from the past as well as newer songs and a few other old favourites. Highly recommended!

*Masquerade 20 also comes as a trifold two CD digipack. The DVD and CD track listing is the same.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing:
1. The Masquerade Overture
2. As Good as Gold
3. Paintbox
4. The Pursuit of Excellence
5. Guardian of my Soul
6. The Shadow
7. Masters of Illusion
8. King of the Castle
9. Schizo
10. Beautiful Soul
11. Faces of Light
12. Nostradamus
13. Explorers of the Infinite
14. Come Home Jack
15. This Green and Pleasant Land
16. Breaking the Spell
17. Indigo

Bonus Video:
Interview with Peter Gee and Jan-Vincent Velazco
In Bardo in Sri Lanka
Photo Gallery
Desktop Images

Added: January 7th 2018
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 2315
Language: english

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Pendragon: Masquerade 20 (2 CDs or DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-01-07 08:12:11
My Score:

As far as progressive rock concert films go, it doesn't get much better than Masquerade 20 from longstanding British act Pendragon. Originally part of the prog resurrection back in the early '80s alongside IQ, Pallas, Twelfth Night, Marillion, and Solstice, Pendragon have stayed fairly stable now for well over 30 years, led by guitarist/vocalist Nick Barrett, keyboard player Clive Nolan, bassist Peter Gee, and recent recruit Jan-Vincent Velazco on drums. For this 20th Anniversary celebration of their classic The Masquerade Overture, the band are augmented by Christina Booth & Verity Smith on backing vocals. This 2+ hour concert sees the band run through the entire The Masquerade Overture, as well as some other favorites old & new, filmed & recorded at the Slaski Theater in Katowice, Poland, a favorite venue for them over the years and also a place where Metal Mind Productions likes to stage some of their video shoots. The video quality and audio is stellar (this is a top notch production) and the band don't disappoint, delivering so many of their classic songs over the duration of this lengthy concert. "As Good As Gold", "Paintbox", "Guardian of My Soul", "Masters of Illusion", "Schizo", "Nostradamus", and "Indigo" are all here, among many others, and it's just fascinating when you really think about how much strong material this band has, especially the album they are celebrating, which is one of the best in their catalog. Barrett is in fine form vocally, and as always delivers sizzling work on his Fender Stratocaster guitar...he's easily one of the most underrated players in prog. Nolan is his virtuoso self, and the rhythm team of Gee and Velazco do a fantastic job, the new guy fitting in just fine.

So, strap yourself in and get ready for some classy, melodic progressive rock by a veteran band who still have plenty to offer!

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