Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Alan Parsons Live Project - 2015

We see a lot of shows ...    

And the second best show we saw all of last year was The Alan Parsons Live Project at The Arcada Theatre.   

It was topped only by their SECOND show later that same night!!! 

(After a full-throttle 7:30 performance the band came back out at 10:00 to do a second show that kicked the energy level up another 200%.  We've never seen anything like it ... and I still don't know how they did it ... but it was truly incredible.  After it was over, I committed myself to total fandom ... and have been listening to their collected works virtually non-stop ever since.)

Last Friday Night (May 29th) we were treated to a return performance of this incredible band at the same venue ... and once again they completely blew us away with their unparalleled talent and musicianship.

The Alan Parsons Live Project transformed the small, friendly confines of the sold out, historic Arcada Theatre into The Royal Albert Hall for the evening through their musical magic ... it was literally rock and roll royalty putting on a majestic performance of the highest caliber ... the show was nothing short of magnificent.

To a man, this has to be one of the most accomplished collections of musical talent to ever grace one stage.  Song after song ... EVERY song ... they continued to amaze their very receptive audience, who awarded them with standing ovations throughout the evening as each stellar performance seemed to surpass the last.

All the hits were there ... everything from "I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You" to "Games People Play" to "Time" to "Don't Answer Me" to "Sirius / Eye In The Sky", a Chicagoland favorite thanks to its long-standing ties to The Chicago Bulls during the incredible Michael Jordan era.  Album favorites like "Breakdown", "Old And Wise" and the entire suite from "Turn Of A Friendly Card" were featured in a two hour show broken into two sets.  It all culminated with a final applause, the likes of which I'd never seen before ... this audience simply did NOT want the band to leave the stage.  Parsons himself was beaming ... and the band was almost giddy ... they, too, were aware of the connection they had made that night .. and it was a reciprocal soul grabbing accomplishment, nothing short of a spiritual experience ... top notch musicianship and vocals throughout ... in fact, the sight of all eight band members singing together at various crescendos of certain songs was truly goosebump-inducing.  (Drummer Danny Thompson gave our buddy Tommy Scheckel a run for the money in the who can sweat off the most weight during a concert performance Friday night ... he was absolutely drenched at the end of the show!  I can only imagine it took a couple of hours to wring him out afterwards!)

And, in a day and age where most artists are looking to see how they can best approximate their sound by minimizing the number of players on stage, The Alan Parsons Live Project has taken the opposite approach, adding new members over the past few years to expand their on stage ensemble to eight.  The newest addition is Dan Tracey on guitar and vocals and he proved to be a valuable asset, allowing veteran fellow guitarist Alastair Greene to wail even more on his guitar solos (while still taking on quite a few amazing solos of his own.)  PJ Olsson was in FINE voice Friday night as were ALL of the members of the band ... Guy Erez on bass, Todd Cooper on saxophone and percussion and Manny Focarazzo on keyboards.  Parsons (who alternated between keyboards and guitar) also paid homage to his recently departed partner Eric Woolfson, who passed away in 2009, referring to him as "the other half of The Alan Parsons Project" ... it was in respect of Eric's passing that prompted Parsons to rename the current line up as "The Alan Parsons Live Project".

Since being TOTALLY captivated at last year's performance and picking up the box set of complete works (available through Alan's website shown below ... or for about $20-25 less) and listening to this music nearly non-stop in between, I have come to find many musical similarities in structure and melody that help to define the Alan Parsons sound.  Intentional or not, some songs almost seem to blend well right into others ... but I prefer to think of this as more of a universal "theme" rather than a "borrowing" from the past.  (John Fogerty already proved that you can't plagiarize yourself years ago!!! lol)  Still, in overall execution, you won't find a better example of musical synchronicity than these guys ... it is nothing short of pure perfection on stage.  (Although I will agree with you, Alan ... the inclusion of the "contract obligatory" final album is exactly as you describe it ... horrible! ... a complete throw-away without a vocal to be found ... and not befitting of the other material recorded and released in a different cosmic spirit.)

That being said, their brand new material recorded under their own terms is outstanding and holds up perfectly with all that has come before it.  Last year we were treated to "Fragile", the then brand-new single, in concert ... and this year they presented "Do You Live At All", both also available through Alan's website and the usual sources like iTunes and Amazon.  Give a listen to the sound samples ... they're great.  (In this day and age, Alan explains, people buy singles ... they don't buy albums anymore ... so he's making available individual tracks for downloading to feed the current "mode of operation" and buying habits amongst music lovers.  Meanwhile, he has ALSO released all of his albums on vinyl for all of us true, old-school die-hards ... and you can purchase autographed copies of these LPs on his site as well for about $75 each.)

Parsons is sticking around Chicago through the weekend to participate in a Master Training Class at RaxTrax Recording studio where purchasers of a ticket are able to witness an actual recording session produced by this musical genius.  ($1000 tickets to sit in the studio completely sold out ... or for $500 you could sit in an adjacent room and watch the whole proceedings on a video screen!)  That event is happening today, as a matter of fact, and is an all day affair, kicking off at 9:30 am and running well into the evening with a champagne reception afterwards.

There are only a few shows left on this leg of the current tour ... the band stops in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and New York on June 5th and 6th ... and then has dates in California the following weekend (June 11th and 12th) before taking a break.  Again, you'll find more information on the official website.

HIGHLY recommended ... in fact, this show gets the Forgotten Hits highest standard award as an experience worth seeing ... you'll leave the theater as a major fan and want to delve deeper into their collection just as I did to find out what else you may have missed over the past few decades. (I nearly ran out of superlatives describing this incredible concert experience ... and can only assure you that each and every one of them was well earned and well  deserved ... a phenomenal show you won't want to miss.)  kk 

Official Alan Parsons Website:

Our Alan Parsons concert review from last year:

(special thanks to Luciano Bilotti for use of these photos in Forgotten Hits)