Clive Nolan - 'Alchemy Live'

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Clive Nolan - 'Alchemy Live'

This DVD is a must have if you liked the album.

It doesn't seem live five minutes ago that I was digesting Clive Nolan's two hour rock musical 'Alchemy', an ambitious and successful project with a cast of many. Scant months later I'm watching a staged version that's part stage musical, part concert and works better than something with so few opportunities for rehearsal has a right to do. The storyline revolves around various characters finding artifacts to unlock the secrets of Alchemy, and the performances are second to none from all the vocalists, including Threshold's Damian Wilson, Twelfth Night's Andy Sears and Landmarq's Tracy Hitchings, but none are more impressive than the main stars David Clifford and Caamora's Agnieszka Swita, also the stars of Nolan's previous musical, 'She'.

Recorded at a small theatre in Poland, the main characters are in costume and in a line across the front of the stage, with the small band behind them, the sole theatrical prop being a chair in front of Pendragon drummer Scott Higham's kit, and although the parts are acted as well as just sung, the fact that the singers are tied by their microphone stands prevents it from being a truly theatrical performance.

As Prog musicals go the songs are quite accessible, with memorable melody lines and lyrics that don't go too deeply into the story, but the realistic budget suggests that not everything you hear is live, some work having been done on vocal overdubs and the shots of the choir were done elsewhere because there's no sign of them in the theatre. Nevertheless, it's an engaging experience and the songs stand up on their own as well as part of the story. Nolan himself just takes part as a storyteller/singer and all the singers add something different to the performance, with the band as backing rather than a focal point.

Available as just a DVD or a box set, the box set also includes two CD's of the show and a bonus CD of demos, whilst the DVD extras include ads, rehearsals and a documentary among its many bonuses, although the documentary is quite poor and some of the interviews badly lit. This DVD is a must have if you liked the album, but if the double CD passed you by then you can get everything you would need in the box set.

Phil Ashcroft

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