Reviews Zone

Renaissance: 50th Anniversary – Ashes Are Burning: An Anthology / Live In Concert (Esoteric Antenna) 28th May 2021




5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)




This two-CD, DVD and Blu Ray four-disc set, is a fitting homage to one of the finest and classiest UK bands in the so-called progressive-rock/folk-rock category.

Lead singer Annie Haslam has a one-off, angelic voice with an amazing range and a blissful and mesmerising delivery, and she is still in very fine voice after five decades of this band’s career.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the formation of Renaissance, vocalist Annie and the band performed a series of concerts with an orchestra in the USA in October 2019.

Featuring a set list which included songs which had never been orchestrated or performed with an orchestra before. The most memorable concert took place at the Keswick Theater (sic) in Glenside, Pennsylvania on 12th October 2019.

This sold-out concert saw the band perform a set with the 10-piece Renaissance Chamber Orchestra, including fan favourites such as “Carpet Of The Sun”, “Ocean Gypsy”, “Running Hard”, “Day Of The Dreamer” and “A Song For All Seasons”.

It was made more special by the appearance of Renaissance co-founder Jim McCarty. In this set, he appears on six of the 33 tracks, including the epic closing piece of the concert, the classic “Ashes Are Burning”.

This four-disc set captures this concert over two CDs and a concert film on both DVD and High-Definition Blu Ray multi region formats (featuring 5.1 Surround Sound mix).

There are many who may only know this band from their gorgeous one-off Top 10 UK hit “Northern Lights”. If that is the case, then those folk are missing out bigtime and this box set would put right that injustice, I am sure. Incidentally, that classic song is not featured anywhere in this set. Why?

The band formed in England in 1969, and tapped into classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences with their music. The band created a big following in the US in the 70s and still have that fanbase today. Annie and the band all now based there.

The original line-up included two former members of the Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf’s sister Jane Relf. There was a high turnover of the lineup, until “the “classic line-up” of Annie Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established.

From 1972 to 1979, Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at New York’s hallowed Carnegie Hall. Two albums came out in the 80s, lineup changes and then they called it a day in 1987.

The band re-formed in 1998 to record “Tuscany”, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.

2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance, led by Haslam and Dunford, and since then the band has continued to record and tour. Dunford died in November 2012. The current line-up features all-US musicians apart from US-based Brit’, Annie Haslam.


By Graham Morrison




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