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Barrett & Nolan, Nick & Clive: A Rush of Adrenaline (DVD)

Friends since childhood, guitarist/vocalist Nick Barrett and keyboardist/vocalist Clive Nolan decided to perform some shows as an acoustic duo last year, including the outstanding performance on A Rush of Adrenaline, filmed in Katowice, Poland, in June 2005. Unfortunately, the audience is subdued and seems unfamiliar with the music these two men have created during the last two decades in their main bands, Arena and Pendragon, not to mention in such side projects as Shadowland, Strangers on a Train and Nolan/Wakeman. Looking almost like Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on stage, the duo of Barrett and Nolan inject many of the pieces in this 15-song, 85-minute set with dramatically different (although still complex) arrangements and reveal a side of themselves seldom heard within the serious confines of their primary bands. They even include a memorable version of "Two Roads" from Pendragon's Believe, not yet released at the time this was filmed. The music obviously sounds lighter, and although the duo's attempts at drinking-related humor falter with the staid audience, Barker and Nolan appear to be enjoying themselves immensely. A 31-minute interview, the highlight of the bonus features, reveals that they approached this laid-back project with a sense of irony hence, the DVD's title and old-man-racing-motocross cover art. Irony or not, these two musicians prove that progressive music need not be self-indulgent and excessive. After all, good music is good music, and this stuff is good. How about a companion CD for the car, gentlemen?

Track Listing:
1) The Walls of Babylon
2) A Man of Nomadic Traits
3) (Don't Forget To) Breathe
4) Alaska
5) And We'll Go Hunting Deer
6) Mindgames
7) Paintbox
8) Shadows of Fate
9) Lightshow
10) Two Roads
11) The King of the Castle
12) Jigsaw The Kruhulick Syndrome Ring of Roses
13) The Voyager
14) Nostradamus
15) The Black Knight
Plus an interview, discographies, biographies, a photo gallery and computer desktop images

Added: March 15th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Pendragon Web Site
Hits: 2644
Language: english

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Barrett & Nolan, Nick & Clive: A Rush of Adrenaline (DVD)
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-15 02:08:23
My Score:

Between them, Clive Nolan and Nick Barrett have been in more than half a dozen bands - and this DVD represents a sort of unpulgged compilation of many of the best pieces from those acts.

Nick Barrett is the driving force behind Pendragon, and Clive Nolan plays keyboards in that band. Nolan, is better known as one of the masterminds behind Arena, as well as other acts like Strangers On A Train, Nolan and Wakeman and Shadowland. The two have been friends since childhood and in 2005, they pooled their talents, rearranged more than a dozen songs for performance on just piano and acoustic guitar, and played a wonderful concert in Katowice, Poland. If the video footage is a reliable record of that event the music went way over the heads of the audience - whose polite patter of applause after each track will leave you wondering if they were handed a double-dose of Zoloft on the way in. Barrett and Nolan's light hearted banter would have been well received anywhere else, and their excellent performance deserved a standing ovation. Hey, Poland, this ain't the opera!

The acoustic guitar and piano combined with (usually) Nick's singing and Clive's backing vocals produce a surprisingly full sound - and it was interesting to discover that Nolan is a capable singer. His backing vocals are well matched to Barrett's voice but he occasionally breaks into a soft falsetto, a deeper, soft baritone, and he sings lead on his Shadowland songs. It isn't clear why, but among many in the progressive rock community Barrett's voice seems to be a love-it or hate-it affair. His voice is certainly a little unconventional, his range and pitch control are good, and he is very expressive. Having said that, it's interesting to hear him singing the Arena track "(Don't forget to) Breathe". He does a very competent job, but doesn't impart quite the same expression and angst as the original. Nolan's capabilities on keyboard and piano are well known. Barrett is best known for his lead guitar work, and the back-to-basics acoustic guitar arrangements work remarkable well - and are well delivered - on all of these songs.

"Alaska" has a long instrumental in which the performances were less than perfect, yet it's still a lot of fun to watch the artists' musical interaction with each other - and "And We'll Go Hunting Deer" - many people's all-time favorite Pendragon piece - is a natural for an unplugged record.

The camera angles are very good, the sound and picture quality are superb, and a half-hour interview with the artists is the only extra of any value. The rest are static, text-only discographies and biographies that are hard to read. If the DVD sells as well as it deserves, expect to see more Barrett / Nolan duo performances in the future. Recommended.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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