We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful evening midst the rolling hills of Connecticut for Renaissance in concert at Infinity Music Hall.
Infinity Music Hall has such superb acoustics. The hall is an architectural wonder, a visual treat for the eyes and senses. We usually get our seats in the mezzanine, overlooking the main floor. This provides us with a great vantage point to watch the musicians as well as the entire stage.
Renaissance designed a unique concert experience in performing two of their best albums, Turn of the Cards (1974) and Scheherazade and Other Stories (1975) back to back, playing every track in logical sequence. These two albums actually follow each other in the Renaissance discography forming the heart of their catalog. It made perfect sense to witness their music performed in concert as we listen to it on the recording. I long for the days when WNEW-FM, 102.7 NY City featured progressive album rock.
The band was in top form initiating “Running Hard”, as Annie Haslam joined the stage to enthusiastic applause. Annie Haslam acknowledged her fans with equal gusto. Turn of the Cards unfolded quickly before us as Michael Dunford pointed out. “Black Flame” and “Mother Russia” were my favorite songs of the first set.
Scheherazade and Other Stories, the second set, took us in a whole different magical direction. I found myself thoroughly intrigued with this series of songs. “Trip to the Fair” opens the album, taking us to a fair in the renaissance age. “Ocean Gypsy” took us to the water’s edge, a place of utter tranquility.
“Song of Scheherazade” which is performed in 9 movements was happily beyond the masterpiece I envisioned it might be live. My music appreciation was enhanced with new found dimensional harmonies, richly accented by the dual keyboard interplay. The band worked in collaborative splendor to create elegant music baroque. I was ecstatic to float in dream sequence on the puffy clouds Renaissance formed all around us.
The evening ended with a single encore (I must admit I felt guilty after listening to two full recordings of great music requesting more…). “Mystic and the Muse” failed to disappoint. It was yet another high point of the evening as Annie Haslam reached her highest arias to our blissful astonishment.
Renaissance was very accommodating to their fans. We love that Infinity Music Hall has a designated area for merchandise sales, meet and greet/ autograph sessions. We purchased the 2011 Tour Poster and had it signed by all the members of the group. It was such a thrill to meet Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford at the autograph table. It means a lot when you can exchange a few words with people you admire.
Set 1 – Turn of the Cards
- Running Hard
- I Think of You
- Things I Don’t Understand
- Black Flame
- Cold Is Being
- Mother Russia
Intermission (15 minutes)
Set 2 – Scheherazade and Other Stories
- Trip to the Fair
- The Vultures Fly High
- Ocean Gypsy
- Song of Scheherazade
- i. Fanfare
- ii. The Betrayal
- iii. The Sultan
- iv. Love Theme
- v. The Young Prince and Princess as told by Scheherazade
- vi. Festival Preparations
- vii. Fugue for the Sultan
- viii. The Festival
- ix. Finale
- Mystic and the Muse
- Renaissance -September 16, 2011, Infinity Hall (theconcertslut.wordpress.com)