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(140 min DVD / Metal Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Overture 2. Erosion 3. For the Greater Glory 4. Hide and Seek 5. Crown of Thorns 6. The Hanging Tree 7. The Enemy Smacks 8. Mindgames 9. Outer Limits 10. Shadows of Fate 11. Paintbox 12. Masters of Illusion 13. Nostradamus LINEUP: Clive Nolan - keyboards; vocals John Jowitt - basses; vocals Mark Westwood - guitar Andy Edwards - drums Alan Reed - vocals John Barnfield - keyboards Nick Barrett - guitar; vocals
Prolusion. No reviewer would be discovering America when introducing his or her potential readers to NEO. This is a kind of supergroup bringing together five veterans of the English neo-prog scene and two relative neophytes, drummer Andy Edwards and guitarist Mark Westwood. Personally I think it would be both a long and quite pointless affair to list all the outfits that the project's participants have been playing in, since the musicians' names are on the lips of probably everybody with an interest in progressive rock music.
Analysis. The main feature of this DVD, "Broadcast", depicts Neo playing live at the Wispianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland. The 13-track set begins with two of IQ's compositions, Overture and Erosion, from "Subterranea" and "The Seventh House" respectively, the first being certainly instrumental, the latter surprisingly finding John Jowitt fulfilling the duties of both bassist and lead singer. His vocal possibilities are good enough to be appreciated, though I would beware of taking him up as a proper replacement for Peter Nichols, just as an instance. Vocalist Alan Reed joins for the next five numbers, For the Greater Glory, Hide & Seek and the Crown of Thorns (all from Pallas's repertoire), The Hanging Tree (by Arena) and the final cut of The Enemy Smacks (IQ). Then follows Mindgames, which is IMHO one of the most featureless songs that Clive Nolan penned during his stay with Shadowland, though the album it is taken from, "Through the Looking Glass", is overall very good and is to my taste better than anything by Arena save, maybe, for "The Visitor". Here Clive takes lead vocals, appearing as a frontman, having given place behind the keyboards to John Barnfield. Finally Nick Barrett enters the stage and stays there until the very end of the show. Outer Limits (again from IQ's song roster) and Shadow of Fate (originally from Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman collaborative effort "The Hound of the Baskervilles") both feature Nick exclusively as a singer, and it is only the last three numbers, Paintbox, Master of Illusion and Nostradamus (all by Pendragon), where he plays guitar as well. The musicians play with ease, getting a genuine pleasure from what they do, and their audience is much more responsive then in the case of Andromeda, which seems to be quite strange, as both bands played the same day on the very same stage of Wispianski Theatre. There are only a couple of relative interesting headings in the bill of fare of extras, an interview with the project's initiators, Clive Nolan and John Jowitt, and Neo 's soundcheck at the ROSfest-2006 festival.
Conclusion. I am not sure if "Broadcast" can be regarded as Neo's own brainchild, because the set they present on this DVD consists exclusively of covers and renderings of the songs by their former and present bands. It's rather a sort of their tribute to themselves, a quasi-experimental effort whose gist can probably be gotten only by you, connoisseurs of Neo, regardless of whether you take the word as a genre definition or as the name of the project, which is the same in the final analysis.
VM: October 8, 2007
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